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Enterprise WLANs have made a dramatic shift towards centralized architectures in the recent past. The reasons for such a change have been ease of management and better design of various control and security functions. The data path of WLANs, however, continues to use the distributed, random-access model, as defined by the popular DCF mechanism of the 802.11 standard. While theoretical results indicate that a centrally scheduled data path can achieve higher efficiency than its distributed counterpart, the likely complexity of such a solution has inhibited practical consideration. In this paper, the authors take a fresh, implementation and deployment oriented, view in understanding data path choices in enterprise WLANs.
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