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Most studies on TCP over multi-hop wireless ad hoc networks have only addressed the issue of performance degradation due to temporarily broken routes, which results in TCP inability to distinguish between losses due to link failures or congestion. This problem tends to become more serious as network mobility increases. We tackle the equally important capture problem to which there has been little or no solution, and is present mostly in static and low mobility multihop wireless networks. This is a result of the interplay between the MAC layer and TCP backoff policies, which causes nodes to unfairly capture the wireless shared medium, hence preventing neighboring nodes to access the channel. This has been shown to have major negative effects on TCP performance comparable to the impact of mobility. We propose a novel algorithm, called COPAS (COntention-based PAth Selection), which incorporates two mechanisms to enhance TCP performance by avoiding capture conditions. First, it uses disjoint forward (sender to receiver for TCP data) and reverse (receiver to sender for TCP ACKs) paths in order to minimize the conflicts of TCP data and ACK packets. Second, COPAS employs a dynamic contention-balancing scheme where it continuously monitors and changes forward and reverse paths according to the level of MAC layer contention, hence minimizing the likelihood of capture. Through extensive simulation, COPAS is shown to improve TCP throughput by up to 90% while keeping routing overhead low.
Date of Conference: 14-16 Oct. 2002