Modeling the 802.11 protocol under different capture and sensing capabilities
Decentralized medium access control schemes for wireless networks based on CSMA/CA, such as the 802.11 protocol, are known to be unfair. In multi-hop networks, they can even favor some connections to such an extent that the others suffer from virtually complete starvation. This observation has been reported in quite a few works, but the factors causing it are still not well understood. We find that the capture effect and the relative values of the receiving and carrier sensing ranges play a crucial role in the unfairness of these protocols. We show that an idealized 802.11 protocol does suffer from starvation when the receiving and sensing ranges are equal, but quite surprisingly this unfairness is reduced or even disappears when these two ranges are sufficiently different. Using a Markovian model, we explain why apparently benign variations in these ranges have such a dramatic impact on the 802.11 protocol performance.