1st Annual Conference on Broadband Networks

Research Article

A practical cross-layer mechanism for fairness in 802.11 networks

  • @INPROCEEDINGS{10.1109/BROADNETS.2004.10,
        author={Joseph Dunn and Michael Neufeld and Anmol Sheth and Dirk Grunwald and John Bennett},
        title={A practical cross-layer mechanism for fairness in 802.11 networks},
        proceedings={1st Annual Conference on Broadband Networks},
  • Joseph Dunn
    Michael Neufeld
    Anmol Sheth
    Dirk Grunwald
    John Bennett
    Year: 2004
    A practical cross-layer mechanism for fairness in 802.11 networks
    DOI: 10.1109/BROADNETS.2004.10
Joseph Dunn1,*, Michael Neufeld1,*, Anmol Sheth1,*, Dirk Grunwald1,*, John Bennett1,*
  • 1: University of Colorado, Department of Computer Science, Boulder, CO 80309
*Contact email: josephd@cs.colorado.edu, neufeldm@cs.colorado.edu, sheth@cs.colorado.edu, grunwald@cs.colorado.edu, jkb@cs.colorado.edu


Many companies, organizations and communities are providing wireless hotspots that provide networking access using 802.11b wireless networks. Since wireless networks are more sensitive to variations in bandwidth and environmental interference than wired networks, most networks support a number of transmission rates that have different error and bandwidth properties. Access points can communicate with multiple clients running at different rates, but this leads to unfair bandwidth allocation. If an access point communicates with a mix of clients using both 1 mb/s and 11 mb/s transmission rates, the faster clients are effectively throttled to 1 mb/s as well. This happens because the 802.11 MAC protocol approximate "station fairness", with each station given an equal chance to access the media. We provide a solution to provide "rate proportional fairness", where the 11 mb/s stations receive more bandwidth than the 1 mb/s stations. Unlike previous solutions to this problem, our mechanism is easy to implement, works with common operating systems and requires no change to the MAC protocol or the stations.