Innovating with Multipath TCP

There is a huge difference between research and innovation. Research often means finding new and original results. In the networking community, this often means inventing new protocols, finding new alogorithms, collecting measurements, … Innovation is different. According to the business dictionnary, innovation is “The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.”

Multipath TCP is an interesting example of a research result that drives innovation. In 2013, Apple started to use it to improve the performance of the SiRi voice recognition application. Two years later, several researchers from the IP Networking Lab created the Tessares to develop hybrid access networks that rely on Multipath TCP to efficiently combine xDSL and cellular networks. The main target of these hybrid networks are rural areas where existing xDSL networks do not provide enough bandwidth to support the current needs of rural users. The xDSL network is then complemented with the LTE network to boost the bandwidth when required.

This technology has been standardised by the BBF as TR-348 Hybrid Access Broadband Architecture. It is now deployed in multiple countries where rural users benefit from improved Internet access.

A recent paper published in IEEE Communications Standards Magazine and entitled Increasing Broadband Reach with Hybrid Access Networks provides additional technical details about this Multipath TCP use case.