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In this paper, the authors analyze backoff protocols, such as the one used in Ethernet. They examine a General Backoff Function (GBF) rather than just the Binary Exponential Backoff (BEB) used by Ethernet. Under some mild assumptions they find stability and optimality conditions for a wide class of backoff protocols with GBF. In particular, it is proved that the maximal throughput rate over the class of backoff protocols is a fixed function of the Number of stations (N) and the optimal average service time is about Ne for large N. The reasons of the instability of the BEB protocol (for a big enough input rate) are explained.
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