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IEEE 802.11s Multihop MAC: A Tutorial

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4 Author(s)
Ricardo C. Carrano ; Computing Institute, MidiaCom Labs, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil ; Luiz C. S. Magalhaes ; Debora C. Muchaluat Saade ; Celio V. N. Albuquerque

Recently, IEEE started a task group to investigate adding wireless mesh capabilities to its ubiquitous IEEE 802.11 wireless local area networks standard. The proposal is specified as the IEEE 802.11s amendment. Although the IEEE802.11s amendment is still a draft, some implementations based on it may already be found. The first and most widespread of these implementations is the one developed by One Laptop per Child (OLPC) for its educational laptop - the XO. One notable feature of IEEE 802.11s is the fact that the mesh network is implemented at the link layer, relying on MAC addresses rather than IP addresses for its mechanisms. This feature enables the design and development of new CPU-free network devices that provide layer-2 multihop communication. This tutorial describes the main characteristics of the IEEE 802.11s proposal illustrating the advantages and disadvantages of the MAC layer approach in comparison to the traditional layer three paradigm to multihop wireless networks. To achieve this, this work provides a detailed analysis of 802.11s traffic captured in a real testbed, with special attention to the path discovery mechanism. The step by step explanation of the mesh mechanisms highlights how some of the design choices may impact on the scalability and reliability of such networks.

Published in:

IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 1 )