Temporal Connectivity of Vehicular Networks: The Power of Store-Carry-and-Forward
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Store-carry-and-forward is extensively used in vehicular environments for many and varied purposes, including routing, disseminating, downloading, uploading, or offloading delay-tolerant content. The performance gain of store-carryand-forward over traditional connected forwarding is primarily determined by the fact that it grants a much improved network connectivity. Indeed, by letting vehicles physically carry data, store-carry-and-forward adds a temporal dimension to the (typically fragmented) instantaneous network topology that is employed by connected forwarding. Temporal connectivity has thus a important role in the operation of a wide range of vehicular network protocols. Still, our understanding of the dynamics of the temporal connectivity of vehicular networks is extremely limited. In this paper, we shed light on this underrated aspect of vehicular networking, by exploring a vast space of scenarios through an evolving graph-theoretical approach. Our results show that using store-carry-and-forward greatly increases connectivity, especially in very sparse networks. Moreover, using store-carry-and-forward mechanisms to share content within a geographically-bounded area can be very efficient, i.e., new entering vehicles can be reached rapidly.