Design and Evaluation of a Cross-Layer Framework for Improving 802.11 Networks: An Empirical Study

Design and Evaluation of a Cross-Layer Framework for Improving 802.11 Networks: An Empirical Study

Nurul I. Sarkar (School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/jbdcn.2013010102
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This paper reports on the design and evaluation of a class of cross-layer design (CLD) framework for improving the performance of 802.11-based wireless local area networks (WLANs). While various CLD approaches have been proposed for improving the performance of WLANs in recent years, the problem of efficient channel utilization, higher throughput, lower packet delay, and fairness has not been fully solved yet. To overcome the performance problems of 802.11, we propose a CLD framework which is based on a cross-layer medium access control (MAC) protocol called the channel-aware buffer unit multiple access (C-BUMA). In the framework, the radio propagation (i.e. physical layer) is combined with the MAC sub-layer to develop a robust cross-layer communication. By sharing channel information with the MAC protocol, the approach reduced unnecessary packet transmissions, and hence reduced bandwidth wastage and significantly improved the system performance. The proposed CLD method is evaluated by extensive simulation experiments. A comparison with 802.11 standards is provided. Results obtained show that the network achieves up to 13.5% higher throughput, 56% lower packet delay, 40% better fairness, and 38% lower packet dropping with the proposed CLD. We also found that the proposed CLD outperforms Pham’s CLD with respect to network throughput and packet dropping. The analysis and empirical results reported in this paper provide some insights into the design and evaluation of a CLD framework for improving data rate of 802.11 networks which may help researchers in this field to overcome the remaining design issues and challenges.
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A Review Of Literature

Research on CLD optimization in WLANs has recently attracted significant interest in the wider networking research community (Athanasiou, Korakis, Ercetin, & Tassiulas, 2009; Caillouet, Pérennes, & Rivano, 2011; Khan, Mahmud, Loo, & Al-Raweshidy, 2008; Obeidat et al., 2012). This research is concerned with sharing information between various protocol layers, as specified in the ISO/OSI reference model (OSI Reference Model). To overcome network performance problems, the CLD framework (i.e. the integration of two or more protocol layers) has been proposed by many network researchers. For brevity only a selected set of literature that is indicative of the range of approaches used for CLD optimization to improve WLAN performance is reported in this section.

Khan et al. (2008) proposed a CLD framework for rate adaptation in 802.11 networks. This rate adaptation approach is different from the other approaches reported in the literature (Choudhury & Gibson, 2007; Lee & Chung, 2008; Xia, Jin, & Hamdi, 2007). In Khan’s solution, the rate is adapted to the changing channel state, application preferences and underlying MAC sublayer timing constraints. The design is based on a cross layer approach involving two-way (application layer with rate adaptation algorithm) communications. It also incorporates a frame loss differentiation mechanism for assessing channel variations while performing rate adaptation.

Yuan et al. (2007) proposed an opportunistic cooperative MAC (OC-MAC) protocol based on cross-layer information utilization. The idea is to determine the best relay station between source and destination based on instantaneous channel measurements. After determining the relay station, the destination station decides whether or not to use it for data transmission. OC-MAC uses relay stations for data transmission only if it can improve system performance. OC-MAC performed better (i.e. lower packet delay) than distributed coordination function (DCF).

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