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3rd International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services — Abstract

Pp. 135–148 of the Proceedings

An Overlay MAC Layer for 802.11 Networks

Ananth Rao and Ion Stoica, University of California, Berkeley


The widespread availability of 802.11-based hardware has made it the premier choice of both researchers and practitioners for developing new wireless networks and applications. However, the ever increasing set of demands posed by these applications is stretching the 802.11 MAC protocol beyond its intended capabilities. For example, 802.11 provides no control over allocation of resources, and the default allocation policy is ill-suited for heterogeneous environments and multi-hop networks. Fairness problems are further exacerbated in multi-hop networks due to link asymmetry and hidden terminals. In this paper, we take a rst step towards addressing these problems without replacing the MAC layer by presenting the design and the implementation of an Overlay MAC Layer (OML), that works on top of the 802.11 MAC layer. OML uses loosely-synchronized clocks to divide the time in to equal size slots, and employs a distributed algorithm to allocate these slots among competing nodes. We have implemented OML in both a simulator and on a wireless testbed using the Click modular router. Our evaluation shows that OML can not only provide better exibility but also improve the fairness, throughput and predictability of 802.11 networks.
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