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Hopping around Wi-Fi networks

European researchers have developed a novel transport scheme for multi-hop wireless networks (MWNs). Much-needed applications will be used in areas such as emergency services and public safety systems.

MWNs are networks where end-to-end paths consist of several consecutive, wireless hops. This new architecture enables a number of new information and communications technology (ICT) applications while improving the performance of existing ICT services.

However, a new architecture requires new approaches to operate efficiently. Meeting this need was the aim of the 'Scheduling, routing, and transport challenges in multi-hop wireless networks' (EFFICIENTMULTIHOP) project, funded by the EU.

The main project goal was to address the architectural and design challenges of MWNs. It also set out to implement and assess the performance of transport schemes regarding congestion control and rate allocation.

By using formal theory and computer simulations, the project established that the performance of the current standard link scheduler is very close to optimum. During EFFICIENTMULTIHOP, the team also designed and implemented a novel transport scheme with very desirable features.

Advantages of the new system include the fact that no modifications are required to the transmission control protocol, the internet protocol or the media access control. In addition, despite its simplicity, the new technique is on average within 10 % of the max–min optimal allocation.

Now completed, the project also designed a method that predicts the current level of network connectivity and allows nodes to select the right routing protocol to be used each time. This approach improves the performance and robustness of such networks.

Furthermore, the project enabled MWNs to achieve the required performance needed for many practical services to run on such networks. These include a wide range of vehicle, military, environmental and disaster recovery applications.

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