Virtual Wires: Rethinking WiFi networks
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WiFi is the dominant means for home Internet access, yet is frequently a performance bottleneck. Without reliable, satisfactory performance at the last hop, end-to-end quality of service (QoS) efforts will fail. Three major reasons for WiFi bottlenecking performance are its: 1) inherent wireless channel characteristics, 2) approach to access control of the shared broadcast channel, and 3) impact on transport layer protocols, such as TCP, that operate end-to-end, and over-react to the loss or delay caused by the single WiFi link. In this paper, we leverage the philosophy of centralization in modern networking and present our cross layer design to address the problem. Specifically, we introduce centralized control at the point of entry/egress into the WiFi network. Based on network conditions measured from buffer sizes, airtime and throughput, flows are scheduled to the optimal utility. Unlike most existing WiFi QoS approaches, our design only relies on transparent modifications, requiring no changes to the network (including link layer) protocols, applications, or user intervention. Through extensive experimental investigation, we show that our design significantly enhances the reliability and predictability of WiFi performance, providing a “virtual wire”-like link to the targeted application.