"Our objective is to maximize throughput while ensuring that all users get similar 'quality of experience' from the wireless system, meaning that users get similar levels of satisfaction from the performance they experience from whatever applications they're running," says Parth Pathak, a Ph.D. student in computer science at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the research.
Multi-hop wireless networks use multiple wireless nodes to provide coverage to a large area by forwarding and receiving data wirelessly between the nodes. However, because they have limited bandwidth and may interfere with each other's transmissions, these networks can have difficulty providing service fairly to all users within the network. Users who place significant demands on network bandwidth can effectively throw the system off balance, with some parts of the network clogging up while others remain underutilized.
Over the past few years, new technology has become available that could help multi-hop networks use their wireless bandwidth more efficiently by splitting the band into channels of varying sizes, according to the needs of the users in the network. Previously, it was only possible to form channels of equal size. However, it was unclear how multi-hop networks could take advantage of this technology, because there was not a clear way to determine how these varying channel widths should be assigned.
Now an NC State team has advanced a solution to the problem.