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Rate control methodologies that are currently available in IEEE 802.11 network cards seriously underutilize network resources and, in addition, per-second throughputs suffer from high variability. In this paper, we introduce an algorithm, H-RCA, that overcomes these shortcomings, giving substantially higher, and less variable, throughput. The approach solely uses information already available at the driver-level to function and can be implemented on 802.11e commodity hardware. H-RCA's design objective is to minimize the average time each packet spends on the medium (including retries) in order to maximize total network throughput. It uses a development of a recently proposed estimation scheme to distinguish transmission failures due to collisions from those caused by channel noise. It employs an estimate of the packet loss ratio due to noise in assessing whether it is appropriate to change rate. We demonstrate experimentally that packet loss ratio is not necessarily a monotonic increasing function of rate; this is accounted for in H-RCA's design. As H-RCA statistically separates noise losses from those caused by collisions, ns-2 simulations show that it is robust to changing environments. H-RCA does not require specific hardware support nor any change to the IEEE 802.11 protocol. This point is substantiated with results from an experimental implementation.