The internet runs pretty much 24 hours a day in some parts of the world, but in other places—notably in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe—the internet “sleeps.”
Researchers say knowing more about that pattern will help them avoid confusing a sleeping internet with a broken one. It will also help them develop better systems to measure and track internet outages, such as those that struck the New York area after Hurricane Sandy.
“The internet is important in our lives and businesses, from streaming movies to buying online. Measuring network outages is a first step to improving internet reliability,” says John Heidemann, research professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute.
Heidemann collaborated with USC’s Lin Quan and Yuri Pradkin on the study, which will be presented at the 2014 ACM Internet Measurements Conference on November 5.
Their study found that the richer a country is, the more likely it is that the internet will be up and running 24/7.
“This work is one of the first to explore how networking policies affect how the network is used,” Heidemann says.
There are 4 billion IPv4 internet addresses. Heidemann and his team pinged about 3.7 million address blocks (representing about 950 million addresses) every 11 minutes over the span of two months, looking for daily patterns.
“This data helps us establish a baseline for the internet—to understand how it functions, so that we have a better idea of how resilient it is as a whole, and can spot problems quicker,” Heidemann says.
“We have grown our coverage to 4 million blocks [more than 1 billion addresses] as internet use grows,” Heidemann adds.
He hopes that long-term observations will help guide internet operation.
The Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate; HSARPA, Cyber Security Division via the Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate and SPAWAR funded the research.