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An Empirical Analysis of Heterogeneity in IEEE 802.11 MAC Protocol Implementations and its Implications

Gopinath, KN and Bhagwat, Pravin and Gopinath, K (2006) An Empirical Analysis of Heterogeneity in IEEE 802.11 MAC Protocol Implementations and its Implications. In: WiNTECH '06 Proceedings of the 1st international workshop on Wireless network testbeds, experimental evaluation & characterization , Sep'2006, Los Angeles.

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Official URL: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1161002

Abstract

Wireless LAN (WLAN) market consists of IEEE 802.11 MAC standard conformant devices (e.g., access points (APs), client adapters) from multiple vendors. Certain third party certifications such as those specified by the Wi-Fi alliance have been widely used by vendors to ensure basic conformance to the 802.11 standard, thus leading to the expectation that the available devices exhibit identical MAC level behavior. In this paper, however, we present what we believe to be the first ever set of experimental results that highlight the fact that WLAN devices from different vendors in the market can have heterogeneous MAC level behavior. Specifically, we demonstrate with examples and data that in certain cases, devices may not be conformant with the 802.11 standard while in other cases, they may differ in significant details that are not a part of mandatory specifications of the standard. We argue that heterogeneous MAC implementations can adversely impact WLAN operations leading to unfair bandwidth allocation, potential break-down of related MAC functionality and difficulties in provisioning the capacity of a WLAN. However, on the positive side, MAC level heterogeneity can be useful in applications such as vendor/model level device fingerprinting.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to ACM Press.
Keywords: IEEE 802.11;MAC;Heterogeneity;Conformance;Device signature; Performance models.
Department/Centre: Division of Electrical Sciences > Computer Science & Automation (Formerly, School of Automation)
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 05:56
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2011 05:56
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/41958

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