A Model of WiFi Performance With Bounded Latency

Bjørn Ivar Teigen, Neil Davies, Kai Olav Ellefsen, Tor Skeie, Jim Torresen

In September 2020, the Broadband Forum published a new industry standard for measuring network quality. The standard centers on the notion of quality attenuation. Quality attenuation is a measure of the distribution of latency and packet loss between two points connected by a network path. A vital feature of the quality attenuation idea is that we can express detailed application requirements and network performance measurements in the same mathematical framework. Performance requirements and measurements are both modeled as latency distributions. To the best of our knowledge, existing models of the 802.11 WiFi protocol do not permit the calculation of complete latency distributions without assuming steady-state operation. We present a novel model of the WiFi protocol. Instead of computing throughput numbers from a steady-state analysis of a Markov chain, we explicitly model latency and packet loss. Explicitly modeling latency and loss allows for both transient and steady-state analysis of latency distributions, and we can derive throughput numbers from the latency results. Our model is, therefore, more general than the standard Markov chain methods. We reproduce several known results with this method. Using transient analysis, we derive bounds on WiFi throughput under the requirement that latency and packet loss must be bounded.

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