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In this section, some of the issues to be considered while designing a transport layer protocol for ad hoc wireless networks are discussed.

  • Induced traffic: Unlike wired networks, ad hoc wireless networks utilize multi-hop radio relaying. A link-level transmission affects the neighbor nodes of both the sender and receiver of the link. In a path having multiple links, transmission at a particular link affects one upstream link and one downstream link. This traffic at any given link (or path) due to the traffic through neighboring links (or paths) is referred to as induced traffic. This is due to the broadcast nature of the channel and the location-dependent contention on the channel. This induced traffic affects the throughput achieved by the transport layer protocol.

  • Induced throughput unfairness: This refers to the throughput unfairness at the transport layer due to the throughput/delay unfairness existing at the lower layers such as the network and MAC layers. For example, an ad hoc wireless network that uses IEEE 802.11 DCF as the MAC protocol may experience throughput unfairness at the transport layer as well. A transport layer protocol should consider these in order to provide a fair share of throughput across contending flows.

  • Separation of congestion control, reliability, and flow control: A transport layer protocol can provide better performance if end-to-end reliability, flow control, and congestion control are handled separately. Reliability and flow control are end-to-end activities, whereas congestion can at times be a local activity. The transport layer flow can experience congestion with just one intermediate link under congestion. Hence, in networks such as ad hoc wireless networks, the performance of the transport layer may be improved if these are separately handled. While separating these, the most important objective to be considered is the minimization of the additional control overhead generated by them.

  • Power and bandwidth constraints: Nodes in ad hoc wireless networks face resource constraints including the two most important resources: (i) power source and (ii) bandwidth. The performance of a transport layer protocol is significantly affected by these constraints.

  • Misinterpretation of congestion: Traditional mechanisms of detecting congestion in networks, such as packet loss and retransmission timeout, are not suitable for detecting the network congestion in ad hoc wireless networks. This is because the high error rates of wireless channel, location-dependent contention, hidden terminal problem, packet collisions in the network, path breaks due to the mobility of nodes, and node failure due to a drained battery can also lead to packet loss in ad hoc wireless networks. Hence, interpretation of network congestion as used in traditional networks is not appropriate in ad hoc wireless networks.

  • Completely decoupled transport layer: Another challenge faced by a transport layer protocol is the interaction with the lower layers. Wired network transport layer protocols are almost completely decoupled from the lower layers. In ad hoc wireless networks, the cross-layer interaction between the transport layer and lower layers such as the network layer and the MAC layer is important for the transport layer to adapt to the changing network environment.

  • Dynamic topology: Some of the deployment scenarios of ad hoc wireless networks experience rapidly changing network topology due to the mobility of nodes. This can lead to frequent path breaks, partitioning and remerging of networks, and high delay in reestablishment of paths. Hence, the performance of a transport layer protocol is significantly affected by the rapid changes in the network topology.

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