An Empirical Analysis of the IEEE 802.11 MAC Layer Handoff Process

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2002-09-18

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IEEE 802.11 based wireless networks have seen rapid growth and deployment in the recent years. Critical to the 802.11 MAC operation, is the handoff function which occurs when a mobile node moves its association from one access point to another. In this paper, we present an empirical study of this handoff process at the link layer, with a detailed breakup of the latency into various components. In particular, we show that a MAC layer function

  • probe is the primary contributor to the overall handoff latency. In our study, we observe that the latency is significant enough to affect the quality of service for many applications (or network connections). Further we
    find a large variation in the latency with from one handoff to another and also among APs and STAs used from different vendors. In this study, we account for this variation and also draw the guidelines for future handoff schemes. (Also UMIACS-TR-2002-75)

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