Design Technology Lab | NYU Abu Dhabi
Yasir Zaki, Jay Chen, Thomas Potsch, Talal Ahmad, Lakshmi Subramanian
Web access is prohibitively slow in many developing regions despite substantial effort to increase bandwidth and network penetration. We explore the fundamental bottlenecks that cause poor web performance from a client's perspective by carefully dissecting webpage load latency contributors in Ghana. Based on our measurements from 2012 to 2014, we find several interesting issues that arise due to the increasing complexity of web pages and number of server redirections required to completely render the assets of a page. We observe that, rather than bandwidth, the primary bottleneck of web performance in Ghana is the lack of good DNS servers and caching infrastructure. The main bottlenecks are: (a) Recursive DNS query resolutions; (b) HTTP redirections; (c) TLS/SSL handshakes. We experiment with a range of well-known end-to-end latency optimizations and find that simple DNS caching, redirection caching, and the use of SPDY can all yield substantial improvements to user-perceived latency.