Elucidating the Instability of Random Access Wireless Mesh Networks

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Executive Summary

This paper investigates both theoretically and experimentally the stability of CSMA-based wireless mesh networks, where a network is said to be stable if and only if the queue of each relay node remains (almost surely) finite. The authors identify two key factors that impact stability: the network size and the so-called "Stealing effect", a consequence of the hidden node problem and non-zero propagation delays. They consider the case of a greedy source and prove, by using Foster's theorem, that 3-hop networks are stable, but only if the stealing effect is accounted for. On the other hand, the authors prove that 4-hop networks are always unstable (even with the stealing effect) and show by simulations that instability extends to more complex linear and non-linear topologies.

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