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RFC 4907


Architectural Implications of Link Indications

Part 4 of 4, p. 41 to 62
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Appendix A.  Literature Review

   This appendix summarizes the literature with respect to link
   indications on wireless local area networks.

A.1.  Link Layer

   The characteristics of wireless links have been found to vary
   considerably depending on the environment.

   In "Performance of Multihop Wireless Networks: Shortest Path is Not
   Enough" [Shortest], the authors studied the performance of both an
   indoor and outdoor mesh network.  By measuring inter-node throughput,
   the best path between nodes was computed.  The throughput of the best
   path was compared with the throughput of the shortest path computed
   based on a hop-count metric.  In almost all cases, the shortest path
   route offered considerably lower throughput than the best path.

   In examining link behavior, the authors found that rather than
   exhibiting a bi-modal distribution between "up" (low loss rate) and
   "down" (high loss rate), many links exhibited intermediate loss
   rates.  Asymmetry was also common, with 30 percent of links
   demonstrating substantial differences in the loss rates in each
   direction.  As a result, on wireless networks the measured throughput
   can differ substantially from the negotiated rate due to
   retransmissions, and successful delivery of routing packets is not
   necessarily an indication that the link is useful for delivery of

   In "Measurement and Analysis of the Error Characteristics of an
   In-Building Wireless Network" [Eckhardt], the authors characterize
   the performance of an AT&T Wavelan 2 Mbps in-building WLAN operating
   in Infrastructure mode on the Carnegie Mellon campus.  In this study,
   very low frame loss was experienced.  As a result, links could be
   assumed to operate either very well or not at all.

   In "Link-level Measurements from an 802.11b Mesh Network" [Aguayo],
   the authors analyze the causes of frame loss in a 38-node urban
   multi-hop 802.11 ad-hoc network.  In most cases, links that are very
   bad in one direction tend to be bad in both directions, and links
   that are very good in one direction tend to be good in both
   directions.  However, 30 percent of links exhibited loss rates
   differing substantially in each direction.

   Signal to noise ratio (SNR) and distance showed little value in
   predicting loss rates, and rather than exhibiting a step-function
   transition between "up" (low loss) or "down" (high loss) states,
   inter-node loss rates varied widely, demonstrating a nearly uniform

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   distribution over the range at the lower rates.  The authors
   attribute the observed effects to multi-path fading, rather than
   attenuation or interference.

   The findings of [Eckhardt] and [Aguayo] demonstrate the diversity of
   link conditions observed in practice.  While for indoor
   infrastructure networks site surveys and careful measurement can
   assist in promoting ideal behavior, in ad-hoc/mesh networks node
   mobility and external factors such as weather may not be easily

   Considerable diversity in behavior is also observed due to
   implementation effects.  "Techniques to reduce IEEE 802.11b MAC layer
   handover time" [Velayos] measured handover times for a stationary STA
   after the AP was turned off.  This study divided handover times into
   detection (determination of disconnection from the existing point of
   attachment), search (discovery of alternative attachment points), and
   execution (connection to an alternative point of attachment) phases.
   These measurements indicated that the duration of the detection phase
   (the largest component of handoff delay) is determined by the number
   of non-acknowledged frames triggering the search phase and delays due
   to precursors such as RTS/CTS and rate adaptation.

   Detection behavior varied widely between implementations.  For
   example, network interface cards (NICs) designed for desktops
   attempted more retransmissions prior to triggering search as compared
   with laptop designs, since they assumed that the AP was always in
   range, regardless of whether the Beacon was received.

   The study recommends that the duration of the detection phase be
   reduced by initiating the search phase as soon as collisions can be
   excluded as the cause of non-acknowledged transmissions; the authors
   recommend three consecutive transmission failures as the cutoff.
   This approach is both quicker and more immune to multi-path
   interference than monitoring of the SNR.  Where the STA is not
   sending or receiving frames, it is recommended that Beacon reception
   be tracked in order to detect disconnection, and that Beacon spacing
   be reduced to 60 ms in order to reduce detection times.  In order to
   compensate for more frequent triggering of the search phase, the
   authors recommend algorithms for wait time reduction, as well as
   interleaving of search and data frame transmission.

   "An Empirical Analysis of the IEEE 802.11 MAC Layer Handoff Process"
   [Mishra] investigates handoff latencies obtained with three mobile
   STA implementations communicating with two APs.  The study found that
   there is a large variation in handoff latency among STA and AP
   implementations and that implementations utilize different message
   sequences.  For example, one STA sends a Reassociation Request prior

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   to authentication, which results in receipt of a Deauthenticate
   message.  The study divided handoff latency into discovery,
   authentication, and reassociation exchanges, concluding that the
   discovery phase was the dominant component of handoff delay.  Latency
   in the detection phase was not investigated.

   "SyncScan: Practical Fast Handoff for 802.11 Infrastructure Networks"
   [Ramani] weighs the pros and cons of active versus passive scanning.
   The authors point out the advantages of timed Beacon reception, which
   had previously been incorporated into [IEEE-802.11k].  Timed Beacon
   reception allows the station to continually keep up to date on the
   signal to noise ratio of neighboring APs, allowing handoff to occur
   earlier.  Since the station does not need to wait for initial and
   subsequent responses to a broadcast Probe Response (MinChannelTime
   and MaxChannelTime, respectively), performance is comparable to what
   is achievable with 802.11k Neighbor Reports and unicast Probe

   The authors measured the channel switching delay, the time it takes
   to switch to a new frequency and begin receiving frames.
   Measurements ranged from 5 ms to 19 ms per channel; where timed
   Beacon reception or interleaved active scanning is used, switching
   time contributes significantly to overall handoff latency.  The
   authors propose deployment of APs with Beacons synchronized via
   Network Time Protocol (NTP) [RFC1305], enabling a driver implementing
   SyncScan to work with legacy APs without requiring implementation of
   new protocols.  The authors measured the distribution of inter-
   arrival times for stations implementing SyncScan, with excellent

   "Roaming Interval Measurements" [Alimian] presents data on the
   behavior of stationary STAs after the AP signal has been shut off.
   This study highlighted implementation differences in rate adaptation
   as well as detection, scanning, and handoff.  As in [Velayos],
   performance varied widely between implementations, from half an order
   of magnitude variation in rate adaptation to an order of magnitude
   difference in detection times, two orders of magnitude in scanning,
   and one and a half orders of magnitude in handoff times.

   "An experimental study of IEEE 802.11b handoff performance and its
   effect on voice traffic" [Vatn] describes handover behavior observed
   when the signal from the AP is gradually attenuated, which is more
   representative of field experience than the shutoff techniques used
   in [Velayos].  Stations were configured to initiate handover when
   signal strength dipped below a threshold, rather than purely based on
   frame loss, so that they could begin handover while still connected
   to the current AP.  It was noted that stations continued to receive
   data frames during the search phase.  Station-initiated

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   Disassociation and pre-authentication were not observed in this

A.1.1.  Link Indications

   Within a link layer, the definition of "Link Up" and "Link Down" may
   vary according to the deployment scenario.  For example, within PPP
   [RFC1661], either peer may send an LCP-Terminate frame in order to
   terminate the PPP link layer, and a link may only be assumed to be
   usable for sending network protocol packets once Network Control
   Protocol (NCP) negotiation has completed for that protocol.

   Unlike PPP, IEEE 802 does not include facilities for network layer
   configuration, and the definition of "Link Up" and "Link Down" varies
   by implementation.  Empirical evidence suggests that the definition
   of "Link Up" and "Link Down" may depend on whether the station is
   mobile or stationary, whether infrastructure or ad-hoc mode is in
   use, and whether security and Inter-Access Point Protocol (IAPP) is

   Where a STA encounters a series of consecutive non-acknowledged
   frames while having missed one or more Beacons, the most likely cause
   is that the station has moved out of range of the AP.  As a result,
   [Velayos] recommends that the station begin the search phase after
   collisions can be ruled out; since this approach does not take rate
   adaptation into account, it may be somewhat aggressive.  Only when no
   alternative workable rate or point of attachment is found is a "Link
   Down" indication returned.

   In a stationary point-to-point installation, the most likely cause of
   an outage is that the link has become impaired, and alternative
   points of attachment may not be available.  As a result,
   implementations configured to operate in this mode tend to be more
   persistent.  For example, within 802.11 the short interframe space
   (SIFS) interval may be increased and MIB variables relating to
   timeouts (such as dot11AuthenticationResponseTimeout,
   dot11AssociationResponseTimeout, dot11ShortRetryLimit, and
   dot11LongRetryLimit) may be set to larger values.  In addition, a
   "Link Down" indication may be returned later.

   In IEEE 802.11 ad-hoc mode with no security, reception of data frames
   is enabled in State 1 ("Unauthenticated" and "Unassociated").  As a
   result, reception of data frames is enabled at any time, and no
   explicit "Link Up" indication exists.

   In Infrastructure mode, IEEE 802.11-2003 enables reception of data
   frames only in State 3 ("Authenticated" and "Associated").  As a
   result, a transition to State 3 (e.g., completion of a successful

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   Association or Reassociation exchange) enables sending and receiving
   of network protocol packets and a transition from State 3 to State 2
   (reception of a "Disassociate" frame) or State 1 (reception of a
   "Deauthenticate" frame) disables sending and receiving of network
   protocol packets.  As a result, IEEE 802.11 stations typically signal
   "Link Up" on receipt of a successful Association/Reassociation

   As described within [IEEE-802.11F], after sending a Reassociation
   Response, an Access Point will send a frame with the station's source
   address to a multicast destination.  This causes switches within the
   Distribution System (DS) to update their learning tables, readying
   the DS to forward frames to the station at its new point of
   attachment.  Were the AP to not send this "spoofed" frame, the
   station's location would not be updated within the distribution
   system until it sends its first frame at the new location.  Thus, the
   purpose of spoofing is to equalize uplink and downlink handover
   times.  This enables an attacker to deny service to authenticated and
   associated stations by spoofing a Reassociation Request using the
   victim's MAC address, from anywhere within the ESS.  Without
   spoofing, such an attack would only be able to disassociate stations
   on the AP to which the Reassociation Request was sent.

   The signaling of "Link Down" is considerably more complex.  Even
   though a transition to State 2 or State 1 results in the station
   being unable to send or receive IP packets, this does not necessarily
   imply that such a transition should be considered a "Link Down"
   indication.  In an infrastructure network, a station may have a
   choice of multiple Access Points offering connection to the same
   network.  In such an environment, a station that is unable to reach
   State 3 with one Access Point may instead choose to attach to another
   Access Point.  Rather than registering a "Link Down" indication with
   each move, the station may instead register a series of "Link Up"

   In [IEEE-802.11i], forwarding of frames from the station to the
   distribution system is only feasible after the completion of the
   4-way handshake and group-key handshake, so that entering State 3 is
   no longer sufficient.  This has resulted in several observed
   problems.  For example, where a "Link Up" indication is triggered on
   the station by receipt of an Association/Reassociation Response, DHCP
   [RFC2131] or Router Solicitation/Router Advertisement (RS/RA) may be
   triggered prior to when the link is usable by the Internet layer,
   resulting in configuration delays or failures.  Similarly, transport
   layer connections will encounter packet loss, resulting in back-off
   of retransmission timers.

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A.1.2.  Smart Link Layer Proposals

   In order to improve link layer performance, several studies have
   investigated "smart link layer" proposals.

   "Advice to link designers on link Automatic Repeat reQuest (ARQ)"
   [RFC3366] provides advice to the designers of digital communication
   equipment and link-layer protocols employing link-layer Automatic
   Repeat reQuest (ARQ) techniques for IP.  It discusses the use of ARQ,
   timers, persistency in retransmission, and the challenges that arise
   from sharing links between multiple flows and from different
   transport requirements.

   In "Link-layer Enhancements for TCP/IP over GSM" [Ludwig], the
   authors describe how the Global System for Mobile Communications
   (GSM)-reliable and unreliable link layer modes can be simultaneously
   utilized without higher layer control.  Where a reliable link layer
   protocol is required (where reliable transports such TCP and Stream
   Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) [RFC2960] are used), the Radio
   Link Protocol (RLP) can be engaged; with delay-sensitive applications
   such as those based on UDP, the transparent mode (no RLP) can be
   used.  The authors also describe how PPP negotiation can be optimized
   over high-latency GSM links using "Quickstart-PPP".

   In "Link Layer Based TCP Optimisation for Disconnecting Networks"
   [Scott], the authors describe performance problems that occur with
   reliable transport protocols facing periodic network disconnections,
   such as those due to signal fading or handoff.  The authors define a
   disconnection as a period of connectivity loss that exceeds a
   retransmission timeout, but is shorter than the connection lifetime.
   One issue is that link-unaware senders continue to back off during
   periods of disconnection.  The authors suggest that a link-aware
   reliable transport implementation halt retransmission after receiving
   a "Link Down" indication.  Another issue is that on reconnection the
   lengthened retransmission times cause delays in utilizing the link.

   To improve performance, a "smart link layer" is proposed, which
   stores the first packet that was not successfully transmitted on a
   connection, then retransmits it upon receipt of a "Link Up"
   indication.  Since a disconnection can result in hosts experiencing
   different network conditions upon reconnection, the authors do not
   advocate bypassing slow start or attempting to raise the congestion
   window.  Where IPsec is used and connections cannot be differentiated
   because transport headers are not visible, the first untransmitted
   packet for a given sender and destination IP address can be
   retransmitted.  In addition to looking at retransmission of a single
   packet per connection, the authors also examined other schemes such

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   as retransmission of multiple packets and simulated duplicate
   reception of single or multiple packets (known as rereception).

   In general, retransmission schemes were superior to rereception
   schemes, since rereception cannot stimulate fast retransmit after a
   timeout.  Retransmission of multiple packets did not appreciably
   improve performance over retransmission of a single packet.  Since
   the focus of the research was on disconnection rather than just lossy
   channels, a two-state Markov model was used, with the "up" state
   representing no loss, and the "down" state representing 100 percent

   In "Multi Service Link Layers: An Approach to Enhancing Internet
   Performance over Wireless Links" [Xylomenos], the authors use ns-2 to
   simulate the performance of various link layer recovery schemes (raw
   link without retransmission, go back N, XOR-based FEC, selective
   repeat, Karn's RLP, out-of-sequence RLP, and Berkeley Snoop) in
   stand-alone file transfer, Web browsing, and continuous media
   distribution.  While selective repeat and Karn's RLP provide the
   highest throughput for file transfer and Web browsing scenarios,
   continuous media distribution requires a combination of low delay and
   low loss and the out-of-sequence RLP performed best in this scenario.
   Since the results indicate that no single link layer recovery scheme
   is optimal for all applications, the authors propose that the link
   layer implement multiple recovery schemes.  Simulations of the
   multi-service architecture showed that the combination of a low-error
   rate recovery scheme for TCP (such as Karn's RLP) and a low-delay
   scheme for UDP traffic (such as out-of-sequence RLP) provides for
   good performance in all scenarios.  The authors then describe how a
   multi-service link layer can be integrated with Differentiated

   In "WaveLAN-II: A High-Performance Wireless LAN for the Unlicensed
   Band" [Kamerman], the authors propose an open-loop rate adaptation
   algorithm known as Automatic Rate Fallback (ARF).  In ARF, the sender
   adjusts the rate upwards after a fixed number of successful
   transmissions, and adjusts the rate downwards after one or two
   consecutive failures.  If after an upwards rate adjustment the
   transmission fails, the rate is immediately readjusted downwards.

   In "A Rate-Adaptive MAC Protocol for Multi-Hop Wireless Networks"
   [RBAR], the authors propose a closed-loop rate adaptation approach
   that requires incompatible changes to the IEEE 802.11 MAC.  In order
   to enable the sender to better determine the transmission rate, the
   receiver determines the packet length and signal to noise ratio (SNR)
   of a received RTS frame and calculates the corresponding rate based
   on a theoretical channel model, rather than channel usage statistics.
   The recommended rate is sent back in the CTS frame.  This allows the

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   rate (and potentially the transmit power) to be optimized on each
   transmission, albeit at the cost of requiring RTS/CTS for every frame

   In "MiSer: An Optimal Low-Energy Transmission Strategy for IEEE
   802.11 a/h" [Qiao], the authors propose a scheme for optimizing
   transmit power.  The proposal mandates the use of RTS/CTS in order to
   deal with hidden nodes, requiring that CTS and ACK frames be sent at
   full power.  The authors utilize a theoretical channel model rather
   than one based on channel usage statistics.

   In "IEEE 802.11 Rate Adaptation: A Practical Approach" [Lacage], the
   authors distinguish between low-latency implementations, which enable
   per-packet rate decisions, and high-latency implementations, which do
   not.  The former implementations typically include dedicated CPUs in
   their design, enabling them to meet real-time requirements.  The
   latter implementations are typically based on highly integrated
   designs in which the upper MAC is implemented on the host.  As a
   result, due to operating system latencies the information required to
   make per-packet rate decisions may not be available in time.

   The authors propose an Adaptive ARF (AARF) algorithm for use with
   low-latency implementations.  This enables rapid downward rate
   negotiation on failure to receive an ACK, while increasing the number
   of successful transmissions required for upward rate negotiation.
   The AARF algorithm is therefore highly stable in situations where
   channel properties are changing slowly, but slow to adapt upwards
   when channel conditions improve.  In order to test the algorithm, the
   authors utilized ns-2 simulations as well as implementing a version
   of AARF adapted to a high-latency implementation, the AR 5212
   chipset.  The Multiband Atheros Driver for WiFi (MadWiFi) driver
   enables a fixed schedule of rates and retries to be provided when a
   frame is queued for transmission.  The adapted algorithm, known as
   the Adaptive Multi Rate Retry (AMRR), requests only one transmission
   at each of three rates, the last of which is the minimum available
   rate.  This enables adaptation to short-term fluctuations in the
   channel with minimal latency.  The AMRR algorithm provides
   performance considerably better than the existing MadWifi driver.

   In "Link Adaptation Strategy for IEEE 802.11 WLAN via Received Signal
   Strength Measurement" [Pavon], the authors propose an algorithm by
   which a STA adjusts the transmission rate based on a comparison of
   the received signal strength (RSS) from the AP with dynamically
   estimated threshold values for each transmission rate.  Upon
   reception of a frame, the STA updates the average RSS, and on
   transmission the STA selects a rate and adjusts the RSS threshold
   values based on whether or not the transmission is successful.  In
   order to validate the algorithm, the authors utilized an OPNET

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   simulation without interference, and an ideal curve of bit error rate
   (BER) vs. signal to noise ratio (SNR) was assumed.  Not surprisingly,
   the simulation results closely matched the maximum throughput
   achievable for a given signal to noise ratio, based on the ideal BER
   vs. SNR curve.

   In "Hybrid Rate Control for IEEE 802.11" [Haratcherev], the authors
   describe a hybrid technique utilizing Signal Strength Indication
   (SSI) data to constrain the potential rates selected by statistics-
   based automatic rate control.  Statistics-based rate control
   techniques include:

   Maximum Throughput

   This technique, which was chosen as the statistics-based technique in
   the hybrid scheme, sends a fraction of data at adjacent rates in
   order to estimate which rate provides the maximum throughput.  Since
   accurate estimation of throughput requires a minimum number of frames
   to be sent at each rate, and only a fraction of frames are utilized
   for this purpose, this technique adapts more slowly at lower rates;
   with 802.11b rates, the adaptation time scale is typically on the
   order of a second.  Depending on how many rates are tested, this
   technique can enable adaptation beyond adjacent rates.  However,
   where maximum rate and low frame loss are already being encountered,
   this technique results in lower throughput.

   Frame Error Rate (FER) Control

   This technique estimates the FER, attempting to keep it between a
   lower limit (if FER moves below, increase rate) and upper limit (if
   FER moves above, decrease rate).  Since this technique can utilize
   all the transmitted data, it can respond faster than maximum
   throughput techniques.  However, there is a tradeoff of reaction time
   versus FER estimation accuracy; at lower rates either reaction times
   slow or FER estimation accuracy will suffer.  Since this technique
   only measures the FER at the current rate, it can only enable
   adaptation to adjacent rates.


   This technique modifies FER control techniques by enabling rapid
   downward rate adaptation after a number (5-10) of unsuccessful
   retransmissions.  Since fewer packets are required, the sensitivity
   of reaction time to rate is reduced.  However, upward rate adaptation
   proceeds more slowly since it is based on a collection of FER data.
   This technique is limited to adaptation to adjacent rates, and it has
   the disadvantage of potentially worsening frame loss due to

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   While statistics-based techniques are robust against short-lived link
   quality changes, they do not respond quickly to long-lived changes.
   By constraining the rate selected by statistics-based techniques
   based on ACK SSI versus rate data (not theoretical curves), more
   rapid link adaptation was enabled.  In order to ensure rapid
   adaptation during rapidly varying conditions, the rate constraints
   are tightened when the SSI values are changing rapidly, encouraging
   rate transitions.  The authors validated their algorithms by
   implementing a driver for the Atheros AR5000 chipset, and then
   testing its response to insertion and removal from a microwave oven
   acting as a Faraday cage.  The hybrid algorithm dropped many fewer
   packets than the maximum throughput technique by itself.

   In order to estimate the SSI of data at the receiver, the ACK SSI was
   used.  This approach does not require the receiver to provide the
   sender with the received power, so that it can be implemented without
   changing the IEEE 802.11 MAC.  Calibration of the rate versus ACK SSI
   curves does not require a symmetric channel, but it does require that
   channel properties in both directions vary in a proportional way and
   that the ACK transmit power remains constant.  The authors checked
   the proportionality assumption and found that the SSI of received
   data correlated highly (74%) with the SSI of received ACKs.  Low pass
   filtering and monotonicity constraints were applied to remove noise
   in the rate versus SSI curves.  The resulting hybrid rate adaptation
   algorithm demonstrated the ability to respond to rapid deterioration
   (and improvement) in channel properties, since it is not restricted
   to moving to adjacent rates.

   In "CARA: Collision-Aware Rate Adaptation for IEEE 802.11 WLANs"
   [CARA], the authors propose Collision-Aware Rate Adaptation (CARA).
   This involves utilization of Clear Channel Assessment (CCA) along
   with adaptation of the Request-to-Send/Clear-to-Send (RTS/CTS)
   mechanism to differentiate losses caused by frame collisions from
   losses caused by channel conditions.  Rather than decreasing rate as
   the result of frame loss due to collisions, which leads to increased
   contention, CARA selectively enables RTS/CTS (e.g., after a frame
   loss), reducing the likelihood of frame loss due to hidden stations.
   CARA can also utilize CCA to determine whether a collision has
   occurred after a transmission; however, since CCA may not detect a
   significant fraction of all collisions (particularly when
   transmitting at low rate), its use is optional.  As compared with
   ARF, in simulations the authors show large improvements in aggregate
   throughput due to addition of adaptive RTS/CTS, and additional modest
   improvements with the additional help of CCA.

   In "Robust Rate Adaptation for 802.11 Wireless Networks" [Robust],
   the authors implemented the ARF, AARF, and SampleRate [SampleRate]
   algorithms on a programmable Access Point platform, and

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   experimentally examined the performance of these algorithms as well
   as the ONOE [ONOE] algorithm implemented in MadWiFi.  Based on their
   experiments, the authors critically examine the assumptions
   underlying existing rate negotiation algorithms:

   Decrease transmission rate upon severe frame loss
        Where severe frame loss is due to channel conditions, rate
        reduction can improve throughput.  However, where frame loss is
        due to contention (such as from hidden stations), reducing
        transmission rate increases congestion, lowering throughput and
        potentially leading to congestive collapse.  Instead, the
        authors propose adaptive enabling of RTS/CTS so as to reduce
        contention due to hidden stations.  Once RTS/CTS is enabled,
        remaining losses are more likely to be due to channel
        conditions, providing more reliable guidance on increasing or
        decreasing transmission rate.

   Use probe frames to assess possible new rates
        Probe frames reliably estimate frame loss at a given rate unless
        the sample size is sufficient and the probe frames are of
        comparable length to data frames.  The authors argue that rate
        adaptation schemes such as SampleRate are too sensitive to loss
        of probe packets.  In order to satisfy sample size constraints,
        a significant number of probe frames are required.  This can
        increase frame loss if the probed rate is too high, and can
        lower throughput if the probed rate is too low.  Instead, the
        authors propose assessment of the channel condition by tracking
        the frame loss ratio within a window of 5 to 40 frames.

   Use consecutive transmission successes/losses to increase/decrease
        The authors argue that consecutive successes or losses are not a
        reliable basis for rate increases or decreases; greater sample
        size is needed.

   Use PHY metrics like SNR to infer new transmission rate
        The authors argue that received signal to noise ratio (SNR)
        routinely varies 5 dB per packet and that variations of 10-14 dB
        are common.  As a result, rate decisions based on SNR or signal
        strength can cause transmission rate to vary rapidly.  The
        authors question the value of such rapid variation, since
        studies such as [Aguayo] show little correlation between SNR and
        frame loss probability.  As a result, the authors argue that
        neither received signal strength indication (RSSI) nor
        background energy level can be used to distinguish losses due to
        contention from those due to channel conditions.  While multi-
        path interference can simultaneously result in high signal
        strength and frame loss, the relationship between low signal

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        strength and high frame loss is stronger.  Therefore,
        transmission rate decreases due to low received signal strength
        probably do reflect sudden worsening in channel conditions,
        although sudden increases may not necessarily indicate that
        channel conditions have improved.

   Long-term smoothened operation produces best average performance
        The authors present evidence that frame losses more than 150 ms
        apart are uncorrelated.  Therefore, collection of statistical
        data over intervals of 1 second or greater reduces
        responsiveness, but does not improve the quality of transmission
        rate decisions.  Rather, the authors argue that a sampling
        period of 100 ms provides the best average performance.  Such
        small sampling periods also argue against use of probes, since
        probe packets can only represent a fraction of all data frames
        and probes collected more than 150 ms apart may not provide
        reliable information on channel conditions.

   Based on these flaws, the authors propose the Robust Rate Adaptation
   Algorithm (RRAA).  RRAA utilizes only the frame loss ratio at the
   current transmission rate to determine whether to increase or
   decrease the transmission rate; PHY layer information or probe
   packets are not used.  Each transmission rate is associated with an
   estimation window, a maximum tolerable loss threshold (MTL) and an
   opportunistic rate increase threshold (ORI).  If the loss ratio is
   larger than the MTL, the transmission rate is decreased, and if it is
   smaller than the ORI, transmission rate is increased; otherwise
   transmission rate remains the same.  The thresholds are selected in
   order to maximize throughput.  Although RRAA only allows movement
   between adjacent transmission rates, the algorithm does not require
   collection of an entire estimation window prior to increasing or
   decreasing transmission rates; if additional data collection would
   not change the decision, the change is made immediately.

   The authors validate the RRAA algorithm using experiments and field
   trials; the results indicate that RRAA without adaptive RTS/CTS
   outperforms the ARF, AARF, and Sample Rate algorithms.  This occurs
   because RRAA is not as sensitive to transient frame loss and does not
   use probing, enabling it to more frequently utilize higher
   transmission rates.  Where there are no hidden stations, turning on
   adaptive RTS/CTS reduces performance by at most a few percent.
   However, where there is substantial contention from hidden stations,
   adaptive RTS/CTS provides large performance gains, due to reduction
   in frame loss that enables selection of a higher transmission rate.

   In "Efficient Mobility Management for Vertical Handoff between WWAN
   and WLAN" [Vertical], the authors propose use of signal strength and
   link utilization in order to optimize vertical handoff.  WLAN to WWAN

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   handoff is driven by SSI decay.  When IEEE 802.11 SSI falls below a
   threshold (S1), Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)-based decay detection is
   undertaken to determine if the signal is likely to continue to decay.
   If so, then handoff to the WWAN is initiated when the signal falls
   below the minimum acceptable level (S2).  WWAN to WLAN handoff is
   driven by both PHY and MAC characteristics of the IEEE 802.11 target
   network.  At the PHY layer, characteristics such as SSI are examined
   to determine if the signal strength is greater than a minimum value
   (S3).  At the MAC layer, the IEEE 802.11 Network Allocation Vector
   (NAV) occupation is examined in order to estimate the maximum
   available bandwidth and mean access delay.  Note that depending on
   the value of S3, it is possible for the negotiated rate to be less
   than the available bandwidth.  In order to prevent premature handoff
   between WLAN and WWAN, S1 and S2 are separated by 6 dB; in order to
   prevent oscillation between WLAN and WWAN media, S3 needs to be
   greater than S1 by an appropriate margin.

A.2.  Internet Layer

   Within the Internet layer, proposals have been made for utilizing
   link indications to optimize IP configuration, to improve the
   usefulness of routing metrics, and to optimize aspects of Mobile IP

   In "Analysis of link failures in an IP backbone" [Iannaccone], the
   authors investigate link failures in Sprint's IP backbone.  They
   identify the causes of convergence delay, including delays in
   detection of whether an interface is down or up.  While it is fastest
   for a router to utilize link indications if available, there are
   situations in which it is necessary to depend on loss of routing
   packets to determine the state of the link.  Once the link state has
   been determined, a delay may occur within the routing protocol in
   order to dampen link flaps.  Finally, another delay may be introduced
   in propagating the link state change, in order to rate limit link
   state advertisements, and guard against instability.

   "Bidirectional Forwarding Detection" [BFD] notes that link layers may
   provide only limited failure indications, and that relatively slow
   "Hello" mechanisms are used in routing protocols to detect failures
   when no link layer indications are available.  This results in
   failure detection times of the order of a second, which is too long
   for some applications.  The authors describe a mechanism that can be
   used for liveness detection over any media, enabling rapid detection
   of failures in the path between adjacent forwarding engines.  A path
   is declared operational when bidirectional reachability has been

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   In "Detecting Network Attachment (DNA) in IPv4" [RFC4436], a host
   that has moved to a new point of attachment utilizes a bidirectional
   reachability test in parallel with DHCP [RFC2131] to rapidly
   reconfirm an operable configuration.

   In "L2 Triggers Optimized Mobile IPv6 Vertical Handover: The
   802.11/GPRS Example" [Park], the authors propose that the mobile node
   send a router solicitation on receipt of a "Link Up" indication in
   order to provide lower handoff latency than would be possible using
   generic movement detection [RFC3775].  The authors also suggest
   immediate invalidation of the Care-of Address (CoA) on receipt of a
   "Link Down" indication.  However, this is problematic where a "Link
   Down" indication can be followed by a "Link Up" indication without a
   resulting change in IP configuration, as described in [RFC4436].

   In "Layer 2 Handoff for Mobile-IPv4 with 802.11" [Mun], the authors
   suggest that MIPv4 Registration messages be carried within
   Information Elements of IEEE 802.11 Association/Reassociation frames,
   in order to minimize handoff delays.  This requires modification to
   the mobile node as well as 802.11 APs.  However, prior to detecting
   network attachment, it is difficult for the mobile node to determine
   whether or not the new point of attachment represents a change of
   network.  For example, even where a station remains within the same
   ESS, it is possible that the network will change.  Where no change of
   network results, sending a MIPv4 Registration message with each
   Association/Reassociation is unnecessary.  Where a change of network
   results, it is typically not possible for the mobile node to
   anticipate its new CoA at Association/Reassociation; for example, a
   DHCP server may assign a CoA not previously given to the mobile node.
   When dynamic VLAN assignment is used, the VLAN assignment is not even
   determined until IEEE 802.1X authentication has completed, which is
   after Association/Reassociation in [IEEE-802.11i].

   In "Link Characteristics Information for Mobile IP" [Lee], link
   characteristics are included in registration/Binding Update messages
   sent by the mobile node to the home agent and correspondent node.
   Where the mobile node is acting as a receiver, this allows the
   correspondent node to adjust its transport parameters window more
   rapidly than might otherwise be possible.  Link characteristics that
   may be communicated include the link type (e.g., 802.11b, CDMA (Code
   Division Multiple Access), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), etc.)
   and link bandwidth.  While the document suggests that the
   correspondent node should adjust its sending rate based on the
   advertised link bandwidth, this may not be wise in some
   circumstances.  For example, where the mobile node link is not the
   bottleneck, adjusting the sending rate based on the link bandwidth
   could cause congestion.  Also, where the transmission rate changes
   frequently, sending registration messages on each transmission rate

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   change could by itself consume significant bandwidth.  Even where the
   advertised link characteristics indicate the need for a smaller
   congestion window, it may be non-trivial to adjust the sending rates
   of individual connections where there are multiple connections open
   between a mobile node and correspondent node.  A more conservative
   approach would be to trigger parameter re-estimation and slow start
   based on the receipt of a registration message or Binding Update.

   In "Hotspot Mitigation Protocol (HMP)" [HMP], it is noted that Mobile
   Ad-hoc NETwork (MANET) routing protocols have a tendency to
   concentrate traffic since they utilize shortest-path metrics and
   allow nodes to respond to route queries with cached routes.  The
   authors propose that nodes participating in an ad-hoc wireless mesh
   monitor local conditions such as MAC delay, buffer consumption, and
   packet loss.  Where congestion is detected, this is communicated to
   neighboring nodes via an IP option.  In response to moderate
   congestion, nodes suppress route requests; where major congestion is
   detected, nodes rate control transport connections flowing through
   them.  The authors argue that for ad-hoc networks, throttling by
   intermediate nodes is more effective than end-to-end congestion
   control mechanisms.

A.3.  Transport Layer

   Within the transport layer, proposals have focused on countering the
   effects of handoff-induced packet loss and non-congestive loss caused
   by lossy wireless links.

   Where a mobile host moves to a new network, the transport parameters
   (including the RTT, RTO, and congestion window) may no longer be
   valid.  Where the path change occurs on the sender (e.g., change in
   outgoing or incoming interface), the sender can reset its congestion
   window and parameter estimates.  However, where it occurs on the
   receiver, the sender may not be aware of the path change.

   In "The BU-trigger method for improving TCP performance over Mobile
   IPv6" [Kim], the authors note that handoff-related packet loss is
   interpreted as congestion by the transport layer.  In the case where
   the correspondent node is sending to the mobile node, it is proposed
   that receipt of a Binding Update by the correspondent node be used as
   a signal to the transport layer to adjust cwnd and ssthresh values,
   which may have been reduced due to handoff-induced packet loss.  The
   authors recommend that cwnd and ssthresh be recovered to pre-timeout
   values, regardless of whether the link parameters have changed.  The
   paper does not discuss the behavior of a mobile node sending a
   Binding Update, in the case where the mobile node is sending to the
   correspondent node.

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   In "Effect of Vertical Handovers on Performance of TCP-Friendly Rate
   Control" [Gurtov], the authors examine the effect of explicit
   handover notifications on TCP-friendly rate control (TFRC).  Where
   explicit handover notification includes information on the loss rate
   and throughput of the new link, this can be used to instantaneously
   change the transmission rate of the sender.  The authors also found
   that resetting the TFRC receiver state after handover enabled
   parameter estimates to adjust more quickly.

   In "Adapting End Host Congestion Control for Mobility" [Eddy], the
   authors note that while MIPv6 with route optimization allows a
   receiver to communicate a subnet change to the sender via a Binding
   Update, this is not available within MIPv4.  To provide a
   communication vehicle that can be universally employed, the authors
   propose a TCP option that allows a connection endpoint to inform a
   peer of a subnet change.  The document does not advocate utilization
   of "Link Up" or "Link Down" events since these events are not
   necessarily indicative of subnet change.  On detection of subnet
   change, it is advocated that the congestion window be reset to
   INIT_WINDOW and that transport parameters be re-estimated.  The
   authors argue that recovery from slow start results in higher
   throughput both when the subnet change results in lower bottleneck
   bandwidth as well as when bottleneck bandwidth increases.

   In "Efficient Mobility Management for Vertical Handoff between WWAN
   and WLAN" [Vertical], the authors propose a "Virtual Connectivity
   Manager", which utilizes local connection translation (LCT) and a
   subscription/notification service supporting simultaneous movement in
   order to enable end-to-end mobility and maintain TCP throughput
   during vertical handovers.

   In an early version of "Datagram Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP)"
   [RFC4340], a "Reset Congestion State" option was proposed in Section
   11.  This option was removed in part because the use conditions were
   not fully understood:

      An HC-Receiver sends the Reset Congestion State option to its
      sender to force the sender to reset its congestion state -- that
      is, to "slow start", as if the connection were beginning again.
      The Reset Congestion State option is reserved for the very few
      cases when an endpoint knows that the congestion properties of a
      path have changed.  Currently, this reduces to mobility: a DCCP
      endpoint on a mobile host MUST send Reset Congestion State to its
      peer after the mobile host changes address or path.

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   "Framework and Requirements for TRIGTRAN" [TRIGTRAN] discusses
   optimizations to recover earlier from a retransmission timeout
   incurred during a period in which an interface or intervening link
   was down.  "End-to-end, Implicit 'Link-Up' Notification" [E2ELinkup]
   describes methods by which a TCP implementation that has backed off
   its retransmission timer due to frame loss on a remote link can learn
   that the link has once again become operational.  This enables
   retransmission to be attempted prior to expiration of the backed-off
   retransmission timer.

   "Link-layer Triggers Protocol" [Yegin] describes transport issues
   arising from lack of host awareness of link conditions on downstream
   Access Points and routers.  Transport of link layer triggers is
   proposed to address the issue.

   "TCP Extensions for Immediate Retransmissions" [Eggert] describes how
   a transport layer implementation may utilize existing "end-to-end
   connectivity restored" indications.  It is proposed that in addition
   to regularly scheduled retransmissions that retransmission be
   attempted by the transport layer on receipt of an indication that
   connectivity to a peer node may have been restored.  End-to-end
   connectivity restoration indications include "Link Up", confirmation
   of first-hop router reachability, confirmation of Internet layer
   configuration, and receipt of other traffic from the peer.

   In "Discriminating Congestion Losses from Wireless Losses Using
   Interarrival Times at the Receiver" [Biaz], the authors propose a
   scheme for differentiating congestive losses from wireless
   transmission losses based on inter-arrival times.  Where the loss is
   due to wireless transmission rather than congestion, congestive
   backoff and cwnd adjustment is omitted.  However, the scheme appears
   to assume equal spacing between packets, which is not realistic in an
   environment exhibiting link layer frame loss.  The scheme is shown to
   function well only when the wireless link is the bottleneck, which is
   often the case with cellular networks, but not with IEEE 802.11
   deployment scenarios such as home or hotspot use.

   In "Improving Performance of TCP over Wireless Networks" [Bakshi],
   the authors focus on the performance of TCP over wireless networks
   with burst losses.  The authors simulate performance of TCP Tahoe
   within ns-2, utilizing a two-state Markov model, representing "good"
   and "bad" states.  Where the receiver is connected over a wireless
   link, the authors simulate the effect of an Explicit Bad State
   Notification (EBSN) sent by an Access Point unable to reach the
   receiver.  In response to an EBSN, it is advocated that the existing
   retransmission timer be canceled and replaced by a new dynamically

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   estimated timeout, rather than being backed off.  In the simulations,
   EBSN prevents unnecessary timeouts, decreasing RTT variance and
   improving throughput.

   In "A Feedback-Based Scheme for Improving TCP Performance in Ad-Hoc
   Wireless Networks" [Chandran], the authors proposed an explicit Route
   Failure Notification (RFN), allowing the sender to stop its
   retransmission timers when the receiver becomes unreachable.  On
   route reestablishment, a Route Reestablishment Notification (RRN) is
   sent, unfreezing the timer.  Simulations indicate that the scheme
   significantly improves throughput and reduces unnecessary

   In "Analysis of TCP Performance over Mobile Ad Hoc Networks"
   [Holland], the authors explore how explicit link failure notification
   (ELFN) can improve the performance of TCP in mobile ad hoc networks.
   ELFN informs the TCP sender about link and route failures so that it
   need not treat the ensuing packet loss as due to congestion.  Using
   an ns-2 simulation of TCP Reno over 802.11 with routing provided by
   the Dynamic Source Routing (DSR) protocol, it is demonstrated that
   TCP performance falls considerably short of expected throughput based
   on the percentage of the time that the network is partitioned.  A
   portion of the problem was attributed to the inability of the routing
   protocol to quickly recognize and purge stale routes, leading to
   excessive link failures; performance improved dramatically when route
   caching was turned off.  Interactions between the route request and
   transport retransmission timers were also noted.  Where the route
   request timer is too large, new routes cannot be supplied in time to
   prevent the transport timer from expiring, and where the route
   request timer is too small, network congestion may result.

   For their implementation of ELFN, the authors piggybacked additional
   information (sender and receiver addresses and ports, the TCP
   sequence number) on an existing "route failure" notice to enable the
   sender to identify the affected connection.  Where a TCP receives an
   ELFN, it disables the retransmission timer and enters "stand-by"
   mode, where packets are sent at periodic intervals to determine if
   the route has been reestablished.  If an acknowledgment is received,
   then the retransmission timers are restored.  Simulations show that
   performance is sensitive to the probe interval, with intervals of 30
   seconds or greater giving worse performance than TCP Reno.  The
   effect of resetting the congestion window and RTO values was also
   investigated.  In the study, resetting the congestion window to one
   did not have much of an effect on throughput, since the
   bandwidth/delay of the network was only a few packets.  However,
   resetting the RTO to a high initial value (6 seconds) did have a
   substantial detrimental effect, particularly at high speed.  In terms
   of the probe packet sent, the simulations showed little difference

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   between sending the first packet in the congestion window, or
   retransmitting the packet with the lowest sequence number among those
   signaled as lost via the ELFNs.

   In "Improving TCP Performance over Wireless Links" [Goel], the
   authors propose use of an ICMP-DEFER message, sent by a wireless
   Access Point on failure of a transmission attempt.  After exhaustion
   of retransmission attempts, an ICMP-RETRANSMIT message is sent.  On
   receipt of an ICMP-DEFER message, the expiry of the retransmission
   timer is postponed by the current RTO estimate.  On receipt of an
   ICMP-RETRANSMIT message, the segment is retransmitted.  On
   retransmission, the congestion window is not reduced; when coming out
   of fast recovery, the congestion window is reset to its value prior
   to fast retransmission and fast recovery.  Using a two-state Markov
   model, simulated using ns-2, the authors show that the scheme
   improves throughput.

   In "Explicit Transport Error Notification (ETEN) for Error-Prone
   Wireless and Satellite Networks" [Krishnan], the authors examine the
   use of explicit transport error notification (ETEN) to aid TCP in
   distinguishing congestive losses from those due to corruption.  Both
   per-packet and cumulative ETEN mechanisms were simulated in ns-2,
   using both TCP Reno and TCP SACK over a wide range of bit error rates
   and traffic conditions.  While per-packet ETEN mechanisms provided
   substantial gains in TCP goodput without congestion, where congestion
   was also present, the gains were not significant.  Cumulative ETEN
   mechanisms did not perform as well in the study.  The authors point
   out that ETEN faces significant deployment barriers since it can
   create new security vulnerabilities and requires implementations to
   obtain reliable information from the headers of corrupt packets.

   In "Towards More Expressive Transport-Layer Interfaces" [Eggert2],
   the authors propose extensions to existing network/transport and
   transport/application interfaces to improve the performance of the
   transport layer in the face of changes in path characteristics
   varying more quickly than the round-trip time.

   In "Protocol Enhancements for Intermittently Connected Hosts"
   [Schuetz], the authors note that intermittent connectivity can lead
   to poor performance and connectivity failures.  To address these
   problems, the authors combine the use of the Host Identity Protocol
   (HIP) [RFC4423] with a TCP User Timeout Option and TCP Retransmission
   trigger, demonstrating significant improvement.

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A.4.  Application Layer

   In "Application-oriented Link Adaptation for IEEE 802.11"
   [Haratcherev2], rate information generated by a link layer utilizing
   improved rate adaptation algorithms is provided to a video
   application, and used for codec adaptation.  Coupling the link and
   application layers results in major improvements in the Peak Signal
   to Noise Ratio (PSNR).  Since this approach assumes that the link
   represents the path bottleneck bandwidth, it is not universally
   applicable to use over the Internet.

   At the application layer, the usage of "Link Down" indications has
   been proposed to augment presence systems.  In such systems, client
   devices periodically refresh their presence state using application
   layer protocols such as SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence
   Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) [RFC3428] or Extensible Messaging and
   Presence Protocol (XMPP) [RFC3921].  If the client should become
   disconnected, their unavailability will not be detected until the
   presence status times out, which can take many minutes.  However, if
   a link goes down, and a disconnect indication can be sent to the
   presence server (presumably by the Access Point, which remains
   connected), the status of the user's communication application can be
   updated nearly instantaneously.

Appendix B.  IAB Members at the Time of This Writing

   Bernard Aboba
   Loa Andersson
   Brian Carpenter
   Leslie Daigle
   Elwyn Davies
   Kevin Fall
   Olaf Kolkman
   Kurtis Lindqvist
   David Meyer
   David Oran
   Eric Rescorla
   Dave Thaler
   Lixia Zhang

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Author's Address

   Bernard Aboba, Ed.
   Microsoft Corporation
   One Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA 98052

   Phone: +1 425 706 6605
   Fax:   +1 425 936 7329



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