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With the rapid proliferation of broadband wireless services, it is of paramount importance to understand how fast data can be sent through a wireless local area network (WLAN). Thanks to a large body of research following the seminal work of Bianchi, WLAN throughput under saturated traffic condition has been well understood. By contrast, prior investigations on throughput performance under unsaturated traffic condition was largely based on phenomenological observations, which lead to a common misconception that WLAN can support a traffic load as high as saturation throughput, if not higher, under nonsaturation condition. In this paper, we show through rigorous analysis that this misconception may result in unacceptable quality of service: mean packet delay and delay jitter may approach infinity even when the traffic load is far below the saturation throughput. Hence, saturation throughput is not a sound measure of WLAN capacity under nonsaturation condition. To bridge the gap, we define safe-bounded-mean-delay (SBMD) throughput and safe-bounded-delay-jitter (SBDJ) throughput that reflect the actual network capacity users can enjoy when they require finite mean delay and delay jitter, respectively. Our earlier work proved that in a WLAN with multi-packet reception (MPR) capability, saturation throughput scales superlinearly with the MPR capability of the network. This paper extends the investigation to the nonsaturation case and shows that superlinear scaling also holds for SBMD and SBDJ throughputs. Our results here complete the demonstration of MPR as a powerful capacity-enhancement technique for WLAN under both saturation and nonsaturation conditions.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2010