• Our paper Anycast on the Move: A Look at Mobile Anycast Performance was accepted to TMA 18! Congrats Sarah!
  • Our paper Mile High WiFi: A First Look At In-Flight Internet Connectivity was accepted to WWW 18!
  • Our paper Cell Spotting: Studying the role of cellular networks in the Internet was accepted to IMC 17!
  • When IPs Fly: A case for redefining airline communication accepted to HotMobile '16!
  • Our paper eXploring Xfinity: A first look at provider-enabled community networks accepted to PAM '16!
  • network performance accepted to Sigcomm C2B(I)D '15 workshop in London!
  • Application Time is released for Android! Download it from the Play Store - track your mobile application usage.
  • Namehelp Mobile is released for Android! Download it now from the Play Store - find the best DNS option for your mobile device.


I am currently working at Akamai in their scoring and topology team, working on cellular network topology discovery and mapping. I completed my Ph.D. in Computer Science in the Northwestern Aqualab in October 2016, under my advisor, Dr. Fabián Bustamante. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2009.

Here is my Curriculum Vitae.


My research explores mobile network performance from multiple vantage points, with a focus on mobile client measurement, ranging along the entire stack of network performance ranging from mapping of the global cellular network infrastructure, to mobile client performance measurements, to understanding mechanisms to best recruit and incentivize users for crowdsourced network measurements.

Client centric measurements are essential for fully understanding users' actual received performance. The impact of client context, such as the cellular core network and radio links can only be captured on the client, as even the mobile operator has little idea of mobile application performance. My research investigates ways of capturing client performance across multiple levels. I developed a programmable and versatile mobile experimentation engine (Alice), which has conducted over 929,000 individual experiments across 1872 unique users since October 2013. Using Alice, I have explored the infrastructure of cellular networks with a slant to its impact on the performance of existing content delivery networks. Mobile client measurements are intwined with the user carrying the device. I have research and designed systems to explore ways to recruit users for mobile crowdsourcing as well as drive them towards areas in need of measurements, critical for the scalablity of crowdsourced mobile network measurement.


Internet Topology Discovery

Investigating the changing Internet topology at a global scale, specifically looking at the growth of cellular access networks, their topology and traffic, as well as the proliferation and bottlenecks of IPv6.

Cellular Content Delivery

The rise of next-generation cellular networks is contributing to the rapid growth in mobile content consumption, which is expected to approximate half of all web traffic by 2019. Unfortunately existing content delivery systems fail to account for the structural and operational differences between cellular networks and typical eyeball networks. While this incongruity was overlooked previously due to high access latencies, and a limiting cellular infrastructure, recent advances in cellular technology have caused the selection of content replicas to be a key determinant in performance.

CDNs face several challenges including the inconsistency of client to resolver mappings (IMC 2014), dynamic client IP addresses, and an opaque cellular network which is unable to be probed from external sources. My research explores the impact of cellular infrastructure on existing CDN systems. Using measurements from 1900 crowdsourced volunteers, my work provides extensive network measurements to explore and characterize the global celluar infrastructure. In addition, with collaboration with Akamai, I have designed and implemented a system for the localization of cellular clients for use in replica selection (expected in production system Q2 2016).

Download Namehelp Mobile for Android to find best cellular DNS!

Alice - Lightweight Mobile Network Experimentation

Cellular network exploration requires a mobile client perspective. We created Alice, A Lightweight Interface for Mobile Experimentation, in order to get a global, client-side view of cellular operator networks.

Alice is a mobile library for Android designed to be packaged with multipe mobile applications for greater deployment, and offers a lightweight, programmable and robust interface for mobile network experimentation. Since its initial deployment in October 2013, Alice has been deployed in 4 Android applications with 1900 users worldwide, completing over 1 million mobile network experiments in total.

Visit the Alice Project Page for more information.

In-Flight Communications

Continuous connectivity for commercial airlines opens an exciting new field of study in networked systems. It tackles the difficult challenges in providing connectivity while traveling at 30,000 ft and speeds that exceed 500 mph. While existing solutions clearly address the problem of Internet accessibility, little information exists on the network performance of these systems aside from anecdotal evidence.

Measure your In-Flight Connectivity performance with WiFly!

Mobile Application Behavior

Considering how much mobile devices are ingrained in most aspects of people's lives, there still does not exist accurate models of mobile application usage. We are exploring the role of context on application usage patterns for use in a variety of applications.

Download AppT for Android to measure your app usage!

Mobile Crowdsourcing

Mobile crowdsourcing environments present new challenges for recruiting workers who achieve high levels of task compliance. We are exploring the ways in which different incentive structures affect these particpant characteristics. In particular, understanding how different incentives affect human mobilty remains an open question, and one with a large number of external factors.

Our first attempt was to reuse the incentives of existing mobile applications, such as location-based games. We developed a framework to integrate into existing mobile applications for incentive reuse for mobile sensing applications, called Crowd Soft Control (Paper in Proc. HotMobile 2012,) and Crowdsensing Under (Soft) Control ( Paper in Proc. Infocom 2015). We continued to explore the effects of incentives on users in mobile crowdsourcing environments. Our paper No one-size fits all - towards a principled approach for incentives in mobile crowdsourcing was presented at Proc. HotMobile 2014.


Improving content delivery through intelligent DNS selection. Download the Namehelp tool here. Namehelp is a tool which improves web performance by obtaining more accurate redirections to nearby content delivery networks. (Paper in Proc. IMC 2012).

TrailBlaze Chicago

Crowdsourcing common cycle routes for improved municiple planning. Download the app from the Android Marketplace here. This app was part of the Apps for Metro Chicago contest for the use of municiple data sources to help improve the lives of Chicago-ians. We were awarded 4th place in the Transportation Round, and 2nd Place in the Overall Round!

C3R - Mobile Urban Monitoring

Vehicular platform for participatory air pollution monitoring. A scalable solution for mobile urban sensings. Using low cost solid-state chemical sensors, we monitor CO2 levels across the city from significantly fewer deployed sensors. View the ( Tech Report) for more details.



  • Sarah Wasserman, John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante, Pedro Casas
    Anycast on the Move: A Look at Mobile Anycast Performance
    In Proc. TMA, 2018.
    Abstract |
  • John P. Rula, James Newman, Fabián Bustamante, Arash Molavi Kakhki, and David Choffnes
    Mile High WiFi: A First Look At In-Flight Internet Connectivity
    In Proc. WWW, April 2018.
    Abstract | PDF


  • John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante, and Moritz Steiner
    Cell Spotting: Studying the role of cellular networks in the Internet
    In Proc. IMC, November 2017.


  • Dipendra Jha, John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante
    eXploring Xfinity: A first look at provider-enabled community networks
    In Proc. PAM, March 2016.
  • John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante, David R. Choffnes
    When IPs Fly: A case for redefining airline communication
    In Proc. HotMobile, February 2016.


  • Zachary S. Bischof, John P. Rula,Fabián Bustamante
    In and Out of Cuba: Characterizing Cuba's Connectivity
    In Proc. IMC, October 2015.
  • John P. Rula, Zachary S. Bischof, Fabián Bustamante
    Second Chance: Understanding diversity in broadband access network performance
    In Proc. Sigcomm C2B(I)D Workshop, August 2015.
  • John P. Rula, Byungjin Jun, Fabián Bustamante
    Mobile AD(D): Estimating Mobile App Session Times for Better Ads
    In Proc. HotMobile, February 2015.
  • John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante
    Crowdsensing Under (Soft) Control
    In Proc. INFOCOMM 2015, April 2015.


  • John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante
    Behind the Curtain: Cellular DNS and Content Replica Selection
    In Proc. IMC 2014, November 2014.
  • John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante
    Behind the Curtain: The importance of replica selection in next generation cellular networks
    Poster in Proc. SIGCOMM, August 2014.
    Winner of SIGCOMM 2014 ACM Student Research Competition.
  • John P. Rula, Vishnu Navda, Fabián Bustamante, Ranjita Bhagwan, Saikat Guha
    "No One-Size Fits All": Towards a principled approach for incentives in mobile crowdsourcing
    In Proc. HotMobile, February 2014.


  • Zachary S. Bischof, Mario A. Sánchez, John S. Otto, John P. Rula, Fabián Bustamante
    Characterizing Broadband Services with Dasu
    Demonstration at USENIX NSDI, April 2013.




  • John S. Otto, John P. Rula, and Fabián E. Bustamante
    C3R -- Participatory Urban Monitoring from your Car
    Tech. Report NWU-EECS-09-10, EECS Dept., Northwestern Univ., 2009.

In the Press


Sailing -- I like sailing. I sailed intercollegiately for Northwestern during college.

Basketball -- I have much more desire to play than I have skill.