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DirCast: A practical and efficient Wi-Fi multicast system

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7 Author(s)

IP multicast applications such as live lecture broadcasts are being increasingly used in enterprise and campus networks. In many cases, end hosts access these multicast streams using Wi-Fi networks. However, multicast over Wi-Fi suffers from several well-known problems such as low data rate, high losses and unfairness vis-a-vis other contending unicast transmissions. In this paper we present DirCast, a system to solve many of these problems. DirCast requires no changes to the 802.11 MAC protocol or the wireless access points. Software changes are required on clients only if they wish to participate in multicast sessions. The aim of DirCast system is to minimize the airtime consumed by the multicast traffic, while simultaneously improving client experience. To meet these goals, the DirCast converts multicast packets to unicast packets targeted to certain selected clients; other clients receive these packets by listening in promiscuous mode. The target clients are carefully selected to minimize loss rate experienced by the non-targeted clients. If necessary, clients are forced to change the AP they are associated with. In addition, DirCast uses proactive adaptive FEC to further reduce the loss rate and implements a novel virtual multicast interface in order to be compatible with the security needs of the enterprise. We demonstrate the effectiveness of DirCast using extensive experiments in a Wi-Fi prototype implementation and through large-scale simulations.

Published in:

Network Protocols, 2009. ICNP 2009. 17th IEEE International Conference on

Date of Conference:

13-16 Oct. 2009