802.11 power-saving mode for mobile computing in Wi-Fi hotspots: Limitations, enhancements and open issues

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Nowadays Wi-Fi is the most mature technology for wireless-Internet access. Despite the large (and ever increasing) diffusion of Wi-Fi hotspots, energy limitations of mobile devices are still an issue. To deal with this, the standard 802.11 includes a Power-Saving Mode (PSM), but not much attention has been devoted by the research community to understand its performance in depth. We think that this paper contributes to fill the gap. We focus on a typical Wi-Fi hotspot scenario, and assess the dependence of the PSM behavior on several key parameters such as the packet loss probability, the Round Trip Time, the number of users within the hotspot. We show that during traffic bursts PSM is able to save up to 90% of the energy spent when no energy management is used, and introduces a limited additional delay. Unfortunately, in the case of long inactivity periods between bursts, PSM is not the optimal solution for energy management. We thus propose a very simple Cross-Layer Energy Manager (XEM) that dynamically tunes its energy-saving strategy depending on the application behavior and key network parameters. XEM does not require any modification to the applications or to the 802.11 standard, and can thus be easily integrated in current Wi-Fi devices. Depending on the network traffic pattern, XEM reduces the energy consumption of an additional 20–96% with respect to the standard PSM.

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