WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

Computer Science Department

Treatment-Based Classification in Residential Wireless Access Points

Feng Li

Committee: Professor Mark Claypool (WPI), Professor Robert Kinicki (WPI), Professor Craig Wills (WPI), and Dr. Tim Strayer (BBN Technologies)

Ph.D. Thesis
Computer Science Department, WPI
Spring 2014


IEEE 802.11 wireless access points (APs) act as the central communication hub inside homes, connecting all networked devices to the Internet. Home users run a variety of network applications with diverse Quality-of-Service requirements (QoS) through their APs. However, wireless APs are often the bottleneck in residential networks as broadband connection speeds keep increasing. Because of the lack of QoS support and complicated configuration procedures in most off-the-shelf APs, users can experience QoS degradation with their wireless networks, especially when multiple applications are running concurrently.

This dissertation presents CATNAP, Classification And Treatment iN an AP, to provide better QoS support for various applications over residential wireless networks, especially timely delivery for real-time applications and high throughput for download-based applications. CATNAP consists of three major components: supporting functions, classifiers, and treatment modules. The supporting functions collect necessary flow level statistics and feed it into the CATNAP classifiers. Then, the CATNAP classifiers categorize flows along three-dimensions: response-based/non-response-based, interactive/non-interactive, and greedy/non-greedy. Each CATNAP traffic category can be directly mapped to one of the following treatments: push/delay, limited advertised window size/drop, and reserve bandwidth. Based on the classification results, the CATNAP treatment module automatically applies the treatment policy to provide better QoS support.

CATNAP is implemented with the NS network simulator, and evaluated against DropTail and Strict Priority Queue (SPQ) under various network and traffic conditions. In most simulation cases, CATNAP provides better QoS supports than DropTail: it lowers queuing delay for multimedia applications such as VoIP, games and video, fairly treats FTP flows with various round trip times, and is even functional when misbehaving UDP traffic is present. Unlike current QoS methods, CATNAP is a plug-and-play solution, automatically classifying and treating flows without any user configuration, or any modification to end hosts or applications.