Algorithms and protocols for multi-channel wireless networks
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A wireless channel is shared by all devices, in the vicinity, that are tuned to the channel, and at any given time, only one of the devices can transmit information. One way to overcome this limitation, in throughput capacity, is to use multiple orthogonal channels for different devices, that want to transmit information at the same time. In this work, we consider the use of multiple orthogonal channels in wireless data networks. We explore algorithms and protocols for such multi-channel wireless networks under two broad categories of network-wide and link-level challenges. Towards handling the network-wide issues, we consider the channel assignment and routing issues in multi-channel wireless networks. We study both single radio and multi-radio multi-channel networks. For single radio multi-channel networks, we propose a new granularity for channel assignment, that we refer to as component level channel assignment. The strategy is relatively simple, and is characterized by several impressive practical advantages. For multi-radio multi-channel networks, we propose a joint routing and channel assignment protocol, known as Lattice Routing. The protocol manages channels of the radios, for the different nodes in the network, using information about current channel conditions, and adapts itself to varying traffic patterns, in order to efficiently use the multiple channels. Through ns2 based simulations, we show how both the protocols outperform other existing protocols for multi-channel networks under different network environments. Towards handling the link-level challenges, we identify the practical challenges in achieving a high data-rate wireless link across two devices using multiple off-the-shelf wireless radios. Given that the IEEE 802.11 a/g standards define 3 orthogonal wi-fi channels in the 2.4GHz band and 12 orthogonal wi-fi channels in the 5GHz band, we answer the following question: ``can a pair of devices each equipped with 15 wi-fi radios use all the available orthogonal channels to achieve a high data-rate link operating at 600Mbps?' Surprisingly, we find through experimental evaluation that the actual observed performance when using all fifteen orthogonal channels between two devices is a mere 91Mbps. We identify the reasons behind the low performance and present Glia, a software only solution that effectively exercises all available radios. We prototype Glia and show using experimental evaluations that Glia helps achieve close to 600Mbps data-rate when using all possible wi-fi channels.