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The activity around the standardization of an IEEE 802.11 mesh protocol has gained momentum in recent years. The mesh architecture presents a huge potential for multiple device-to-device communication, which will likely be realized through multi-channel access techniques. Prior studies on multi-channel access focus on routing and media access control (MAC) layers and are limited primarily to analysis and simulation. In this paper, we present the application of a novel approach called distributed information sharing (DISH) to provide a simple multi-channel access solution for 802.11 mesh networks. We present a cooperative multi-channel access extension of the 802.11 MAC protocol by incorporating DISH into the IEEE 802.11 DCF design and implement the protocol using commodity 802.11 hardware and open source Linux drivers. The paper also presents protocol design considerations, implementation challenges and experimental results from a mesh testbed. The study clearly demonstrates the performance superiority of the technique under heavy traffic conditions and confirms that cooperative multi-channel access is a promising technology for boosting the performance of 802.11 mesh networks.
Date of Publication: October 2012