Skip to Main Content
Decentralized medium access control schemes for wireless networks based on CSMA/CA, such as the IEEE 802.11 protocol, are known to be unfair. In multihop networks, they can even favor some links to such an extent that the others suffer from virtually complete starvation. This observation has been reported in quite a few works, but the factors causing it are still not well understood. We find that the capture effect and the relative values of the receive and carrier sensing ranges play a crucial role in the performance of these protocols. Using a simple Markovian model, we show that an idealized CSMA/CA protocol suffers from starvation when the receiving and sensing ranges are equal, but quite surprisingly that this unfairness is reduced or even disappears when these two ranges are sufficiently different. We also show that starvation has a positive counterpart, namely organization. When its access intensity is large the protocol organizes the transmissions in space in such a way that it maximizes the number of concurrent successful transmissions. We obtain exact formula for the so-called spatial reuse of the protocol on large line networks.