Virtual PCF: Improving VoIP over WLAN performance with legacy clients
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Abstract Voice over IP (VoIP) is one of the fastest growing applications on the Internet. Concurrently, 802.11 Wireless LANs (WLANs) have become ubiquitous in residential, enterprise, campus and public networks. Currently the majority of traffic on WLANs is data traffic but as more people use wireless networks as their primary access medium, a greater portion of traffic will be real-time traffic such as VoIP traffic. Unfortunately 802.11 networks are designed to handle delay-insensitive, bursty traffic and perform poorly for VoIP streams. Experimental and analytical results have shown that a single 802.11b access point operating at the maximum 11 Mbps rate can support only 5 to 10 VoIP connections simultaneously. Intuitively, an 11 Mbps link should support approximately 85 bi-directional 64Kbps (G.711) streams. The reason for this under-utilization lies primarily in the Distributed Coordination Function (DCF) used by 802.11 MAC layer. The problem can be addressed by using the optional Point Coordination Function (PCF). However PCF is not widely implemented in commodity hardware nor likely to be. There is a similar problem with the proposed 802.11e standard for quality of service. To solve these problems we propose Virtual PCF, a legacy-client compatible solution to increase the number of simultaneous VoIP calls. We implement Virtual PCF, a scheme which employs a variety of techniques to improve both uplink and downlink VoIP QoS. This alleviates delays and packet loss due to DCF contention and doubles the number of supported VoIP sessions.