Packet Mass Transit: Improving Frame Aggregation in 60 GHz Networks
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The impact of frame aggregation on wireless network performance increases dramatically with higher data rates. The key problem is that the transmission time of packets decreases while the medium access, preamble and packet header overhead remain the same. Recent 802.11 standards address this issue using frame aggregation, i.e., grouping multiple data frames in a single transmission to reduce the overhead. This already provides substantial efficiency gains in networks operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and for future 60 GHz networks such as 802.11ad, gains are even more pronounced due to the order of magnitude higher data rates. In 802.11ad, frame aggregation becomes crucial to achieve the multi-gbps data rates that are possible in theory, since medium access overhead can be 20x larger than the time required to transmit a single packet. While frame aggregation is essential, it very much depends on the traffic patterns present in the wireless network, and a node may not always have enough packets in the transmit queue to achieve a sufficiently large aggregated frame size. In this paper, we investigate in which case nodes should wait to construct a larger aggregated packet before starting the channel access procedure. We present a simple waiting policy for the uplink case that either waits for a minimum number of packets or for a maximum amount of time, whichever comes first. For the downlink case, we utilize a maximum weight scheduling policy with a maximum waiting time. Our results show that both policies significantly improve medium utilization, thus increasing throughput and reducing end-to-end delay.