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IPDR vs. DPI: What’s the Difference?

Published on 26 Feb 2016 

Understand the similarities and differences between Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) before you make an investment. Refer to the table below to see a side-by-side comparison of these two popular data collection methods:

  Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
What is it?
  • Software-based technology used to collect and record network data traffic statistics from a CMTS
  • Contains information about every flow inside a CMTS
  • Provides details of consumption usage about subscriber devices on a network
  • Application-based data collection method that sits between the subscriber and the Internet
  • Scans all network traffic and analyzes unencrypted data within a packet to create statistics based on specific parameters
Purpose Provides network intelligence for:


  • Bandwidth monitoring
  • Usage-based pricing models
  • Capacity forecasting
  • Network planning
  • Marketing and sales campaigns
Provides network intelligence for:


  • Policy enforcement and network intelligence
  • Throttling certain types of network traffic to lower speeds (such as P2P file sharing)
How it works
  • CMTS is instructed to define, collect, encode, transport, and exchange cable modem-based usage records
  • Statistics are periodically and asynchronously reported to a central application called a collector, where data is filtered and analyzed for other departments to digest
  • Allows the network to discover what applications use the most bandwidth and depending on set policies limits bandwidth usage
  • Gains intelligence by examining every data packet as it passes an inspection point
  • Flows are created internally and traffic policies applied and data can be later accessed through an application
  • Application-agnostic
  • Essential service consumption data about every device on a network
  • Cost-effective
  • Industry standard, integrated into the DOCSIS protocol
  • Highlights network topology when cross-referenced with SNMP data
  • Little additional hardware required for implementation
  • Provides a high level of detail about subscriber Internet usage
  • Can be used for policy enforcement and to throttle certain traffic
  • Can be used for network forensics and lawful intercepts
  • There are some differences in interpretation of the standard between CMTS vendors
  • Level of details exposed do not show what content a subscriber is viewing, only what type of content.*
  • IPDR is device centric and not subscriber centric
  • Expensive and complex
  • Generally requires additional hardware integration
  • Level of details exposed is seen as too intrusive in the user community
  • Can burden the CMTS and risk affecting regular services