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We introduce a methodology for studying wireless ad hoc networks in a multihop traffic environment. Our approach is to use theoretical upper bounds on network performance for evaluating the effects of various design choices: we focus on power control, the queuing discipline, the choice of routing and media access protocols, and their interactions. Using this framework, we then concentrate on the problem of medium access for wireless multihop networks. We first study CSMA/CA, and find that its performance strongly depends on the choice of the accompanying routing protocol. We then introduce two protocols that outperform CSMA/CA, both in terms of energy efficiency and achievable throughput. The progressive back off algorithm (PBOA) performs medium access jointly with power control. The progressive rump up algorithm (PRUA) sacrifices energy efficiency in favor of higher throughput. Both protocols slot time, and are integrated with queuing disciplines that are more relaxed than the first in first out (FIFO) rule. They are totally distributed and the overhead they require does not increase with the size and node density of the network.