Why is the internet so slow?!

Ilker Nadi Bozkurt, Anthony Aguirre, Balakrishnan Chandrasekaran, P. Brighten Godfrey, Gregory Laughlin, Bruce Maggs, Ankit Singla

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In principle, a network can transfer data at nearly the speed of light. Today’s Internet, however, is much slower: our measurements show that latencies are typically more than one, and often more than two orders of magnitude larger than the lower bound implied by the speed of light. Closing this gap would not only add value to today’s Internet applications, but might also open the door to exciting new applications. Thus, we propose a grand challenge for the networking research community: building a speed-of-light Internet. To help inform research towards this goal, we investigate, through large-scale measurements, the causes of latency inflation in the Internet across the network stack. Our analysis reveals an under-explored problem: the Internet’s infrastructural inefficiencies. We find that while protocol overheads, which have dominated the community’s attention, are indeed important, reducing latency inflation at the lowest layers will be critical for building a speed-of-light Internet. In fact, eliminating this infrastructural latency inflation, without any other changes in the protocol stack, could speed up small object fetches by more than a factor of three.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPassive and Active Measurement - 18th International Conference, PAM 2017, Proceedings
EditorsSteve Uhlig, Johanna Amann, Mohamed Ali Kaafar
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783319543277
StatePublished - 2017
Event18th International Conference on Passive and Active Measurement, PAM 2017 - Sydney, Australia
Duration: Mar 30 2017Mar 31 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10176 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other18th International Conference on Passive and Active Measurement, PAM 2017
City Sydney

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Why is the internet so slow?!'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this