Spectrum Utilization and Congestion of IEEE 802.11 Networks in the 2.4 GHz ISM Band

Jan-Willem van Bloem, Roel Schiphorst, Taco Kluwer, Cornelis H. Slump

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    3 Citations (Scopus)
    156 Downloads (Pure)


    Wi-Fi technology, plays a major role in society thanks to its widespread availability, ease of use and low cost. To assure its long term viability in terms of capacity and ability to share the spectrum ef﬿ciently, it is of paramount to study the spectrum utilization and congestion mechanisms in live environments. In this paper the service level in the 2.4 GHz ISM band is investigated with focus on todays IEEE 802.11 WLAN systems with support for the 802.11e extension. Here service level means the overall Quality of Service (QoS), i.e. can all devices ful﬿ll their communication needs? A crosslayer approach is used, since the service level can be measured at several levels of the protocol stack. The focus is on monitoring at both the Physical (PHY) and the Medium Access Control (MAC) link layer simultaneously by performing respectively power measurements with a spectrum analyzer to assess spectrum utilization and packet snif﬿ng to measure the congestion. Compared to traditional QoS analysis in 802.11 networks, packet snif﬿ng allows to study the occurring congestion mechanisms more thoroughly. The monitoring is applied for the following two cases. First the influence of interference between WLAN networks sharing the same radio channel is investigated in a controlled environment. It turns out that retry rate, Clear-ToSend (CTS), Request-To-Send (RTS) and (Block) Acknowledgment (ACK) frames can be used to identify congestion, whereas the spectrum analyzer is employed to identify the source of interference. Secondly, live measurements are performed at three locations to identify this type of interference in real-live situations. Results show inef﬿cient use of the wireless medium in certain scenarios, due to a large portion of management and control frames compared to data content frames (i.e. only 21% of the frames is identi﬿ed as data frames).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)401-430
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of green engineering
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


    • Interference
    • Spectrum Sensing
    • cross-layer
    • EWI-22242
    • ISM band
    • Congestion
    • IR-81459
    • IEEE 802.11e
    • METIS-296087


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