Improving the Range and Latency in 802.11ac Networks
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Improving the Range and Latency in 802.11ac Networks

  • Author(s): Yin, Patrick
  • Advisor(s): Pottie, Greg
  • Lu, Songwu
  • et al.

As IoT and drone applications become increasing popular, there exists a demand to be able to increase communications range. In addition, with possible applications in video streaming/AR/VR, the necessity for a low-latency scheme to reduce overall transmission delay becomes more critical. Therefore, we approach this problem on two fronts – one on the PHY layer to solve the long-range issue, and the other on the MAC layer to solve the latency issue. There are preexisting works on long range communications, but these use directional antennas, high powered amplifiers, and protocol customizations on the MAC layer. Unfortunately, these approaches are not suited for the spread out and mobile nature of IoT and drone applications. Therefore, we focus on the PHY layer, specifically on the concept of predistortion, to offer our solution: increased linear power that would offer a boost in omnidirectional range without the need of directional antennas. Although much work has been done to reduce overall latency, the methods do not completely address our problem. To meet millisecond level requirements for delay sensitive applications, we recognize that the long tail of the packet delay distribution poses a significant issue. Although different mitigation techniques can be developed on various layers, we choose a path that would offer maximum marketability: a software-based solution at the MAC layer that offers the maximum amount of delay reduction without changing components at the physical level. We can therefore couple our long-range solution in PHY with our low latency resolution in MAC in the form of an API that would allow for easy installation and customizations of commodity Wi-Fi systems.

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