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Harnessing the High Bandwidth of Multiradio Multichannel 802.11n Mesh Networks

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4 Author(s)
Ho, I.W.-H. ; Dept. of Electron. & Inf. Eng., Hong Kong Polytech. Univ., Kowloon, China ; Lam, P.P. ; Chong, P.H.J. ; Soung Chang Liew

There has been an increasing interest in deploying wireless mesh networks (WMNs) for communication and video surveillance purposes thanks to its low cost and ease of deployment. It is well known that a major drawback of WMN is multihop bandwidth degradation, which is primarily caused by contention and radio interference. The use of mesh nodes with multiple radios and channels has been regarded as a straightforward solution to the problem in the research community. However, we demonstrate in this paper through real-world experiments that such an approach cannot resolve the multihop TCP throughput degradation problem in IEEE 802.11n mesh networks. With extensive experimentation, we verify that the degradation is principally caused by the increase in TCP Round-Trip Time (RTT) when the number of hops increases. TCP throughput is fundamentally limited inversely by the RTT. We find that the multihop TCP throughput (up to five hops) when using 802.11n is no better than when using 802.11a, despite the much higher data rate 802.11n. We attempt to use multiple parallel TCP connections as a remedy to the problem, and it turns out that the wireless bandwidth can be fully utilized with a sufficient number of parallel streams. In general, our results give a key message that TCP tuning (e.g., setting the correct TCP buffers and use of parallel streams) is of paramount importance in high-bandwidth multihop wireless mesh networks that employ the latest wireless standards. These tuning techniques have to be implemented into commercial products to fully leverage the ever advancing wireless technologies to support the growing demand of multihop communications in wireless mesh networks.

Published in:

Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 2 )