Epsilon: Patching Mobile WiFi Networks

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Executive Summary

Open Wi-Fi networks offer a chance to have ubiquitous, mobile connectivity by opportunistically leveraging previously deployed resources. Open Wi-Fi access points are densely deployed in many cities, offering high bandwidth at no cost to the mobile node. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi networks are riddled with coverage holes, resulting in poor network performance, even if planned for blanket coverage. To back this claim, the authors present the results of a measurement study of a small city's Wi-Fi network - both planned and unplanned - using mobile nodes, verified with data collected from a second city. They find that holes can be broadly classified into two categories: permanent holes due to a lack of Wi-Fi coverage; and transient holes that are due to mobility and channel characteristics.

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