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In the IEEE 802.11 standard, the fundamental medium access mechanism is called Distributed Coordination
Function (DCF) and Point Coordination Function (PCF). However, DCF is unable to provide the required
performance for voice and video applications, because it is fundamentally developed for Best Effort services.
For that reason, the IEEE802.11e amendment was approved in order to provide QoS (Quality of Service)
support to WLANs.

IEEE 802.11e
The standard is considered of critical importance to support real-time applications and to fulfill their QoS
requirements, such as voice over WLAN and streaming multimedia. The amendment has been incorporated
into the published IEEE 802.11-2007 standard.

It defined the Hybrid Coordination Function (HCF) as enhanced medium access (MAC) mechanism,
which includes two access mechanisms which are:

Enhanced Distributed Coordination Access (EDCA)

HCF Controlled Channel Access (HCCA)

Both EDCA and HCCA define Traffic Categories (TC) .

While the legacy MAC allowed the AP to start the contention free periods (CFP) which is periodic, the
802.11e MAC enhances CFP to a CAP (Controlled Access Phase) and allows initiating CAPs periods
arbitrarily even during the contention period as it illustrated in Fig.1.

EDCA: Enhanced Distributed Channel Access

When using the EDCA MAC access scheme, applications are divided into 4 groups to grant QoS. These
groups are called Access Categories (ACs) and they are:

Voice (VO)
Video (VI)
Best effort (BE)
Background (BK)

The EDCA mechanism is analogous to the DCF. Frames arriving at the MAC layer are firstly classified
according to their priority. Traffic differentiation is accomplished through medium access parameters which

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presume different values for each AC. These parameters are: the Arbitration InterFrame Space Number
(AIFSN), the Contention Window Minimum and Maximum (CWmin and CWmax). The standard also
introduces the Transmission Opportunity (TXOP).

HCCA: HCF Controlled Channel Access

HCCA can be considered as an enhancement of PCF, yet it can be invoked at any time even during the
contention period.

HCCA is controlled by the Hybrid Coordinator HC, which is similar to PC in 802.11 PCF. A CFP period is
initiated when the HC transmits a beacon frame. Once HC gains access to the medium, it polls stations along
with their requirements of the traffic streams by sending QoS + CFPoll frames. The station which has
answered the HC allocates the medium for TXOP period to transmit its traffic. When the HC has finished
polling all stations, or the current transmitting station has no more data to transmit, the HC ends the CFP
period by sending a QoS CF-Poll (CF-end) frame where the RA matching its own MAC address with
Duration/ID field set to 0.

Burst transmission

This scheme consists on grouping the frame and sharing the access time in the channel between several
frames possessing the same destination. Thus, the frames are sent in a burst during the period of a transmit
opportunity (TXOP). As defined by Fig.2, each frame is acknowledged by an ACK frame, SIFS after the
transmission of the data. In this scheme, a station is able to transmit after an AIFS period followed by a
counter backoff when the medium is busy.

IEEE 802.11n
Although this amendment introduces the service differentiation scheme, it was not able to guarantee QoS for
applications having strict QoS requirements. It is an amendment to the IEEE 802.11-2007.

Face to demand for higher performance WLANs to support multimedia applications, the standard 802.11n is
appeared for next generation WLAN.

PHY enhancements:

An IEEE 802.11n WLAN can operate with transmission data rate reaching 600 Mbps by using multiple-input
multiple-output (MIMO) technology.

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MIMO is a technology that uses multiple antennas to coherently resolve more information than possible using
a single antenna. One way it provides this is through Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM), which spatially
multiplexes multiple independent data streams, transferred simultaneously within one spectral channel of

MIMO SDM can significantly increase data throughput as the number of resolved spatial data streams is
increased. Each spatial stream requires a discrete antenna at both the transmitter and the receiver. In addition,
MIMO technology requires a separate radio-frequency chain and analog-to-digital converter for each MIMO
antenna, making it more expensive to implement than non-MIMO systems.

Channels operating with a width of 40 MHz are another feature incorporated into 802.11n; this doubles the
channel width from 20 MHz in previous 802.11 PHYs to transmit data, and provides twice the PHY data rate
available over a single 20 MHz channel. It can be enabled in the 5 GHz mode, or within the 2.4 GHz mode if
there is knowledge that it will not interfere with any other 802.11 or non-802.11 (such as Bluetooth) system
using the same frequencies. The MIMO architecture, together with wider-bandwidth channels, offers
increased physical transfer rate over 802.11a (5 GHz) and 802.11g (2.4 GHz).

Number of antennas:

The number of simultaneous data streams is limited by the minimum number of antennas in use on both sides
of the link.

The a x b : c notation helps identify what a given radio is capable of, where:

- a is the maximum number of transmit antennas

- b is the maximum number of receive antennas
- c is the maximum number of data spatial streams.

The 802.11n draft allows up to 4 x 4 : 4. Common configurations of 11n devices are:

- 2x2:2 - 2x3:2 - 3x2:2

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All three configurations have the same maximum throughputs and features, and differ only in the amount of
diversity the antenna systems provide. In addition, a fourth configuration, 3 x 3 : 3 is becoming common,
which has a higher throughput, due to the additional data stream.

Data rates:

Assuming equal operating parameters to an 802.11g network achieving 54 Mbps (on a single 20 MHz
channel with one antenna), an 802.11n network can achieve 72 Mbps (on a single 20 MHz channel with one
antenna and 400ns guard interval); the speed may go up to 150 Mbps if there aren't other Bluetooth,
microwave or Wi-Fi emissions in the neighborhood by using two 20 MHz in 40 MHz mode. If more antennas
are used, then 802.11n can go up to 288 Mbps in 20 MHz mode with 4 antennas, or 600 Mbps in 40 MHz
mode with 4 antennas and 400 ns guard interval.

Data rates up to 600 Mbps are achieved only with the maximum of 4 spatial streams using one 40 MHz-wide
channel. Various modulation schemes and coding rates are defined by the standard and are represented by a
Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS) index value.

MAC enhancements:

Three main MAC enhancements have been appeared with 802.11n to reduce the protocol overheads:

Block Acknowledgement (BA)

Aggregation MAC Service Data Unit (A-MSDU)
MAC Protocol Data Unit (A-MPDU)

Next, the details of these enhancements are presented.

Block Acknowledgement (BA) :

This scheme consists on grouping the frame and sharing the access time in the channel between several
frames possessing the same destination. Thus, the frames are sent in a burst, separated with SIFS, during the
period of a transmit opportunity (TXOP). All the frames sent are acknowledged by a unique Block
Acknowledgement (BA) instead of an ACK frame for each frame transmitted, as it is presented by Fig.4.

The station transmits a request for BA (BAR), and the receiver respond with BA after a SIFS period. The
transmission takes place during a TXOP period. The Immediate BA with RIFS mode is similar to Immediate
BA SIFS mode, but the frames are separated with RIFS which is less than SIFS.

Aggregation scheme: A-MSDU and A-MPDU:

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Fundamentally, A-MSDU is designed to tolerate multiple MSDUs to be transmitted to the same receiver
concatenated in a one MPDU. The top MAC layer receives packets from the Link Layer and these buffered
packets are then aggregated to form a single A-MSDU.

For each MSDU subframe in an A-MSDU frame, the MSDU subframe includes the Subframe Header, the
MSDU data payload and the Padding field. The Subframe Header includes three fields: the Destination
Address, the Source Address and length which indicates the MSDU data payload.

The AMSDU aggregation is only tolerable for packets having the same source and destination. The
maximum length A-MSDU that a station can receive is either 3839 bytes or 7935 bytes. A single AMSDU
contains multiple MSDU subframes. A single AMSDU frame is transmitted after adding the Physical Header,
the MAC header and the FCS field.

The principle of A-MPDU is to send multiple MPDU subframes with a unique PHY header in the goal to
reduce the overhead PHY header. For each A-MPDU, every MPDU subframe includes an MPDU frame, the
MPDU delimiter and the padding bytes. Multiple MPDU subframes are concatenated into one larger A-
MPDU frame.

All the MPDU subframes within an A-MPDU should be addressed to the same receiver, but the MPDU
subframe could have different source address. With A-MPDU, is fully formed MAC PDUs are logically
aggregated at the bottom of the MAC. A short MPDU delimiter is pretended to each MPDU and the
aggregate presented to the PHY as the PSDU for transmission in a single PPDU. The MPDU delimiter is 32
bits in length and consists of a 4-bit reserved field, a 12-bit MPDU length field, an 8-bit CRC field, and an 8-
bit signature field. The 8-bit CRC covers the 4-bit reserved and 12-bit length fields and validates the integrity
of the header. The MPDU is padded with 0-3 bytes to round it up to a 32-bit word boundary.

A station advertises the maximum A-MPDU length that it can receive in its HT Capabilities element. The
advertised maximum length may be one of the following: 8191, 16383, 32767, or 65 535 bytes. Fig.5
represents the two level of aggregation scheme A-MSDU and A-MPDU.

IEEE 802.11ac

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Even though 802.11n can deliver high throughput, only one-to-one communications in the infrastructure
mode are supported and the network throughput is limited by the maximum per-link data rate. To overcome
this deficiency, a new standard IEEE 802.11ac is developed adding enhancements for PHY and MAC layers.

PHY enhancements:

In general, 802.11ac could be seen as a lateral extension of 802.11n in which the two basic notions of
multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) and wider channel bandwidth, anchored in 802.11n are enhanced.
The basic idea is that theoretical maximum PHY data rate can be linearly increased by a factor of the number
of spatial streams (transmit/receive antennas) or channel bandwidth. In other words, PHY data rate can be
doubled (quadrupled) by doubling the number of spatial streams or (and) channel bandwidth. Fig. 6 illustrates
the key mandatory and optional PHY features. Note that the blocks in dashed lines represent the new PHY
features enhancements of 802.11ac in contrast to 802.11n.

Carrier Frequency

IEEE 802.11ac is an amendment to IEEE 802.11 [12] for very high throughput (VHT) operation in frequency
bands below 6 GHz, excluding 2.4 GHz (i.e., unlicensed bandsat 5 GHz band).

Channel Bandwidth

IEEE 802.11ac supports 40 MHz, 80 MHz, and 160 MHz channel bandwidth compared to only 20 MHz and
40 MHz supported by 802.11n.

MAC enhancements:

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The major MAC layer enhancement is TXOP sharing, which is used to perform multiple downlink traffic
streams to multiple receiver STAs simultaneously.

TXOP scharing

To support multiple downlink traffic streams to multiple receiver STAs simultaneously, 802.11ac enhance the
MAC layer by extending the existing transmit opportunity by proposing a new technique called TXOP

The idea of proposing TXOP sharing comes from the limitations of the legacy EDCA TXOP principle.
Indeed, during an EDCA TXOP obtained by a station, only frames belonging to the same AC are transmitted.
By this way, multiple frames belonging to different ACs are not allowed to be transmitted simultaneously.
The main idea of TXOP sharing is to allow the AP to perform simultaneous transmissions to multiple
receiving STAs by using the group ID.

With this scheme, each EDCF of an AP uses its own EDCA parameters to compete for TXOP. When an
EDCF gains a TXOP, it will be the owner of this TXOP, and its associated ACs is considered as Primary AC
and the remainder ACs is the secondary one. We can talk about multi-user TXOP (MU-TXOP) when the
primary AC allows secondary AC to share the TXOP for simultaneous transmissions. Hence, the AP has two
types of destinations: Primary and Secondary destinations which are respectively targeted by data frames of
Primary AC and secondary AC. We can have only one Primary AC and multiple secondary ACs, but there
could be multiple destinations (primary and secondary). As it is shown in Table. II. 802.11ac adds new phase
to guarantee the TXOP sharing mechanism. In this period, it is the primary AC that decides which secondary
AC is permitted to share the TXOP with, as well as destinations (Primary and Secondary) to target for

Fig.6. represents how different ACs can share an EDCATXOP. AC-VI is considered as the primary AC, and
it wants to send two blocks of MSDUs frames for STA-1 and STA-3 respectively. Hence, these two stations
are primary destinations. Secondary ACs are AC-VO and AC-BE, and STA-2 is a secondary destination.
MSDUs frames will be transmitted into multiple A-MPDUs. For the two secondary ACs, the higher priority
is transmitted first.

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IEEE 802.11ad
IEEE802.11ac has a big sister named IEEE 802.11ad, which can transmit in the 60GHz band that provides
the opportunity for much wider band channels. It is called multi-gigabit throughput in 60GHz band,
802.11ad network can provide solutions of throughput intensive applications since it will offer theoretical
data rate over 7Gbps.

PHY enhancements:

IEEE 802.11ad is an amendment to 802.11 for enhancements for multi-gigabit throughput in 60 GHz band. In
this band, typically 7 GHz of spectrum is available for unlicensed usage compared to 83.5 MHz in 2.4 GHz
band. This standard defines 4 channels, each with 2.16 GHz band-width, for operation at 60 GHz band.

IEEE 802.11ad defines both SC (Single Carrier) modulation and OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency
Division Multiplexing) modulation. Moreover, in this standard, the data is encoded by an LDPC encoder
with 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, and 13/16 code rates

MAC enhancements:

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Many enhancements are proposed to the MAC layer to achieve very high throughput delivery and to support
directionality of antenna layer. These enhancements are:

Bi-directional aggregation frame with aggregated ACK, TDMA, directional associations, and

IEEE 802.11aa
Another WLAN specification named IEEE 802.11aa is under develop. The More reliable Working group
MRG of 802.11aa aims to extend the base MAC 802.11 to provide a robust and reliable multicast audio/video
streaming over 802.11 WLAN as well as keeping data and voice performance in particular for the delivery of
multicast traffic with low delay and jitter. The main MAC enhancements are:

Stream Classification Service (SCS) which extend the IEEE 802.11e EDCA mapping access category
and GroupCast with Retries service GCR which defines new acknowledgement schemes.

IEEE 802.11p

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In order to provide Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) for future vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication,
the IEEE proposed the IEEE 802.11p Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) standard. This standard was
accepted in September 2003.

It operates in the 5.855.925 GHz ITS band in the United States and the newly allocated 5.8555.905 GHz band in Europe. Its PHY is
identical to OFDM-based 802.11a. However, in addition to the traditional 20 MHz, 802.11p can optionally operate with reduced 10
MHz channel spacing in order to compensate for the increased delay spread in outdoor vehicular environments. With 10 MHz channel
spacing, the maximum PHY data rate supported is halved to 27 Mb/s. To allow for longer communication distance, maximum radio
output power may be increased up to 760 mW. Due to the harsh environmental conditions, 802.11p requires radios to be operable in
an extended temperature range from 40C to 85C. In the MAC section we focus on the features necessary to meet specific needs
that limit latency (e.g., for safety-related applications).

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Ong, E. H., Kneckt, J., Alanen, O., Chang, Z., Huovinen, T., & Nihtil, T. (2011, September).
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Charfi, E., Chaari, L., & Kamoun, L. (2012, July). Upcoming WLANs MAC access
mechanisms: An overview. In Communication Systems, Networks & Digital Signal Processing
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Ong, E. H., Kneckt, J., Alanen, O., Chang, Z., Huovinen, T., & Nihtil, T. (2011, September).
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