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Routing packets over multiple disjoint paths towards a destination can increase network utilization by load-balancing the traffic over the network. In wireless mesh networks, multi-radio multi-channel nodes are often used to create a larger set of interference-free paths thus increasing the chance of load-balancing. The drawback of load-balancing is that different paths might have different delay properties, causing packets to be reordered. This can reduce TCP performance significantly, as reordering is interpreted as a sign of congestion. Packet reordering can be avoided by letting the network layer forward traffic strictly on flow-level. This would avoid the negative drawbacks of packet reordering, but will also limit the ability to achieve optimal network throughput. On the other hand, there are several proposals that try to mitigate the effects of reordering at the transport layer. In this paper, we perform an in-depth evaluation of such TCP reordering mitigations in multi-radio multi-channel wireless mesh networks when using multi-path forwarding. We evaluate two TCP reordering mitigation techniques implemented in the Linux kernel. The transport layer mitigations are compared using different multi-path forwarding strategies. Our findings show that, in general, flow-level forwarding gives the best TCP performance and that transport layer reordering mitigations only marginally can improve performance.
Date of Conference: 8-10 Oct. 2012