Spatial Reuse in IEEE 802.11ax WLANs

Published in Elsevier Computer Communications, 2019

Recommended citation: Wilhelmi, F., Barrachina-Muñoz, S., Cano, C., Selinis, I., & Bellalta, B. (2021). Spatial reuse in IEEE 802.11 ax WLANs. Computer Communications.

Abstract: Dealing with massively crowded scenarios is one of the most ambitious goals of next-generation wireless networks. With this goal in mind, the IEEE 802.11ax amendment includes, among other techniques, the Spatial Reuse (SR) operation. The SR operation encompasses a set of unprecedented techniques that are expected to significantly boost Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) performance in dense environments. In particular, the main objective of the SR operation is to maximize the utilization of the medium by increasing the number of parallel transmissions. Nevertheless, due to the novelty of the operation, its performance gains remain largely unknown. In this paper, we first provide a gentle tutorial of the SR operation included in the IEEE 802.11ax. Then, we analytically model SR and delve into the new kinds of MAC-level interactions among network devices. Finally, we provide a simulation-driven analysis to showcase the potential of SR in various deployments, comprising different network densities and traffic loads. Our results show that the SR operation can significantly improve the medium utilization, especially in scenarios under high interference conditions. Moreover, our results demonstrate the non-intrusive design characteristic of SR, which allows enhancing the number of simultaneous transmissions with a low impact on the environment. We conclude the paper by giving some thoughts on the main challenges and limitations of the IEEE 802.11ax SR operation, including research gaps and future directions.

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