Packet voice/data in local broadcast networks
A local area network that can support both voice and data packets offers economic advantages due to the use of only a single network for both types of traffic, greater flexibility to changing user demands, and it also enables efficient use to be made of the transmission capacity. The latter aspect is very important in local broadcast networks where the capacity is a scarce resource, for example mobile radio. This research has examined two types of local broadcast network, these being the Ethernet-type bus local area network and a mobile radio network with a central base station. With such contention networks, medium access control (MAC) protocols are required to gain access to the channel. MAC protocols must provide efficient scheduling on the channel between the distributed population of stations who want to transmit. No access scheme can exceed the performance of a single server queue, due to the spatial distribution of the stations. Stations cannot in general form a queue without using part of the channel capacity to exchange protocol information. In this research, several medium access protocols have been examined and developed in order to increase the channel throughput compared to existing protocols. However, the established performance measures of average packet time delay and throughput cannot adequately characterise protocol performance for packet voice. Rather, the percentage of bits delivered within a given time bound becomes the relevant performance measure. Performance evaluation of the protocols has been examined using discrete event simulation and in some cases also by mathematical modelling. All the protocols use either implicit or explicit reservation schemes, with their efficiency dependent on the fact that many voice packets are generated periodically within a talkspurt. Two of the protocols are based on the existing 'Reservation Virtual Time CSMA/CD' protocol, which forms a distributed queue through implicit reservations. This protocol has been improved firstly by utilising two channels, a packet transmission channel and a packet contention channel. Packet contention is then performed in parallel with a packet transmission to increase throughput. The second protocol uses variable length packets to reduce the contention time between transmissions on a single channel. A third protocol developed, is based on contention for explicit reservations. Once a station has achieved a reservation, it maintains this effective queue position for the remainder of the talkspurt and transmits after it has sensed the transmission from the preceeding station within the queue. In the mobile radio environment, adaptions to the protocols were necessary in order that their operation was robust to signal fading. This was achieved through centralised control at a base station, unlike the local area network versions where the control was distributed at the stations. The results show an improvement in throughput compared to some previous protocols. Further work includes subjective testing to validate the protocols' effectiveness.