On the Fairness of Large CSMA Networks

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Executive Summary

The authors characterize the fairness of decentralized medium access control protocols based on CSMA/CA, in large multi-hop wireless networks. In particular, they show that the widely observed unfairness of these protocols in small network topologies does not always persist in large topologies. In regular networks, this unfairness is essentially due to the unfair advantage of nodes at the border of the network, which have a restricted neighborhood and thus a higher probability to access the communication channel. In large 1D lattice networks these border effects do not propagate inside the network, and nodes sufficiently far away from the border have equal access to the channel; as a result the protocol is long-term fair. In 2D lattice networks, they observe a phase transition.

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