Concurrent multipath transmission to improve performance for multi-homed devices in heterogeneous networks

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Recent network technology developments have led to the emergence of a variety of access network technologies - such as IEEE 802.11, wireless local area network (WLAN), IEEE 802.16, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WIMAX) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) - which can be integrated to offer ubiquitous access in a heterogeneous network environment. User devices also come equipped with multiple network interfaces to connect to the different network technologies, making it possible to establish multiple network paths between end hosts. However, the current connectivity settings confine the user devices to using a single network path at a time, leading to low utilization of the resources in a heterogeneous network and poor performance for demanding applications, such as high definition video streaming. The simultaneous use of multiple network interfaces, also called bandwidth aggregation, can increase application throughput and reduce the packets' end-to-end delays. However, multiple independent paths often have heterogeneous characteristics in terms of offered bandwidth, latency and loss rate, making it challenging to achieve efficient bandwidth aggregation. For instance, striping the flow's packets over multiple network paths with different latencies can cause packet reordering, which can significantly degrade performance of the current transport protocols. This thesis proposes three new solutions to mitigate the effects of network path heterogeneity on the performance of various concurrent multipath transmission settings. First, a network layer solution is proposed to stripe packets of delay-sensitive and high-bandwidth applications for concurrent transmission across multiple network paths. The solution leverages the paths' latency heterogeneity to reduce packet reordering, leading to minimal reordering delay, which improves performance of delay-sensitive applications. Second, multipath video streaming is developed for H.264 scalable video, where the reference video packets are adaptively assigned to low loss network paths to reduce drifting errors, thus combatting H.264 video distortion effectively. Finally, a new segment scheduling framework - which carefully considers path heterogeneity - is incorporated into the IETF Multipath TCP to improve throughput performance. The proposed solutions have been validated using a series of simulation experiments. The results reveal that the proposed solutions can enable efficient bandwidth aggregation for concurrent multipath transmission over heterogeneous network paths.