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Network Interface Statistics Overview

In Android 4.0, statistics reported by Linux network interfaces are recorded over time, and are used to enforce network quota limits, render user-visible charts, and more.

Each network device driver (Wi-Fi included) must follow the standard kernel device lifecycle, and return correct statistics through dev_get_stats(). In particular, statistics returned must remain strictly monotonic while the interface is active. Drivers may reset statistics only after successfully completing an unregister_netdev() or the equivalent that generates a NETDEV_UNREGISTER event for callbacks registered with register_netdevice_notifier() / register_inetaddr_notifier() / register_inet6addr_notifier().

Mobile operators typically measure data usage at the Internet layer (IP). To match this approach in Android 4.0, we rely on the fact that for the kernel devices we care about the rx_bytes and tx_bytes values returned by dev_get_stats() return exactly the Internet layer (IP) bytes transferred.  But we understand that for other devices it might not be the case. For now, the feature relies on this peculiarity. New drivers should have that property also, and the dev_get_stats() values must not include any encapsulation overhead of lower network layers (such as Ethernet headers), and should preferably not include other traffic (such as ARP) unless it is negligible.

The Android framework only collects statistics from network interfaces associated with a NetworkStateTracker in ConnectivityService. This enables the framework to concretely identify each network interface, including its type (such as TYPE_MOBILE or TYPE_WIFI) and subscriber identity (such as IMSI).  All network interfaces used to route data should be represented by a NetworkStateTracker so that statistics can be accounted correctly.