Exploiting multi-carrier access offers a promising direction to boost access quality in mobile networks. However, our experiments show that, the current practice does not achieve the full potential of this approach because it has not utilized fine-grained, cellular-specific domain knowledge. In this work, we propose iCellular, which exploits low-level cellular information at the device to improve multi-carrier access. Specifically, iCellular is proactive and adaptive in its multi-carrier selection by leveraging existing end-device mechanisms and standards-complaint procedures. It performs adaptive monitoring to ensure responsive selection and minimal service disruption, and enhances carrier selection with online learning and runtime decision fault prevention. It is readily deployable on smartphones without infrastructure/ hardware modifications. We implement iCellular on commodity phones and harness the efforts of Project Fi to assess multi-carrier access over two US carriers: T-Mobile and Sprint. Our evaluation shows that, iCellular boosts the devices with up to 3.74x throughput improvement, 6.9x suspension reduction, and 1.9x latency decrement over the state-of-the-art selection scheme, with moderate CPU, memory and energy overheads.
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