A framework for integrating Mobile Hosts within the Internet

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Host mobility and wireless access are two emerging design considerations that pose challenging problems at all layers of the networking protocol stack. This dissertation investigates their impact on the design of link, network, and transport layer protocols. At the network layer, we have designed and implemented a new routing architecture that allows the current set of Internet standards to support routing to mobile hosts. At the link and transport layers, we have designed mechanisms to improve throughput over error-prone wireless channels.

At the network layer, the most crucial problem is that of routing. The existing Internet routing mechanisms cannot route packets to hosts whose points of attachment to the network change over time. Exploiting IP's Loose Source Route option, we have designed and implemented a routing scheme which provides location independent network access to TCP/IP compliant mobile hosts. It also allows mobile hosts equipped with multiple network interfaces to dynamically migrate active network sessions from one network interface to another. The proposed scheme only requires the addition of two new entity types, Mobile Routers and Mobile Access Stations. These entities perform all required mobility-aware functions, such as address translation, user tracking and location management. No modifications to existing host or router software are required.

Although MobileIP provides continuous network connectivity to mobile hosts, the effects of host movement and wireless medium characteristics are often visible at the transport layer. We consider the effect of wireless medium characteristics on the performance of Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) sessions. Unlike wired networks, packets transmitted on wireless channels are often subject to burst errors which cause back to back packet losses. We show that TCP's error-recovery mechanisms perform poorly when packets from a TCP session are subject to burst errors. Unlike other approaches which require modification to TCP, our solution requires enhancements only at the wireless link layer, thus making it applicable to other transport protocols as well. We use a Channel State Dependent Packet (CSDP) scheduler which takes wireless channel characteristics into consideration in making packet dispatching decisions. Our results show that the CSDP technique provides improved throughput, better channel utilization, and fairness among multiple TCP streams. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-95-124)