Appraising the delay accuracy in browser-based network measurement

Weichao Li, Ricky K.P. Mok, Kow Chuen Chang, Waiting W.T. Fok

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Conducting network measurement in a web browser (e.g., speedtest and Netalyzr) enables end users to understand their network and application performance. However, very little is known about the (in) accuracy of the various methods used in these tools. In this paper, we evaluate the accuracy of ten HTTP-based and TCP socket-based methods for measuring the round-trip time (RTT) with the five most popular browsers on Linux and Windows. Our measurement results show that the delay overheads incurred in most of the HTTP-based methods are too large to ignore. Moreover, the overheads incurred by some methods (such as Flash GET and POST) vary significantly across different browsers and systems, making it very difficult to calibrate. The socket-based methods, on the other hand, incur much smaller overhead. Another interesting and important finding is that Date.getTime(), a typical timing API in Java, does not provide the millisecond resolution assumed by many measurement tools on some OSes (e.g., Windows 7). This results in a serious under-estimation of RTT. On the other hand, some tools over-estimate the RTT by including the TCP handshaking phase.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIMC 2013 - Proceedings of the 13th ACM Internet Measurement Conference
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2013
Event13th ACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2013 - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 23 Oct 201325 Oct 2013


Conference13th ACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2013


  • Accuracy
  • Delay
  • Measurement
  • Web

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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