PhD Defense: Reconfigurable, Energy-Efficient, and Application-Aware Wireless Systems for Emerging Markets

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 9:12pm

PhD Defense, Ashish Sharma

Date: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Time: 12:30 pm
Location: 1132 Harold Frank Hall
Committee: Elizabeth Belding (chair), Kevin Almeroth, Ben Zhao, Ravi Jain (Google)

Title: Reconfigurable, Energy-Efficient, and Application-Aware Wireless Systems for Emerging Markets

The information and communication infrastructure of a region plays a pivotal role in its socio-economic development and can be regarded as one of its greatest assets. Social scientists studying this phenomenon have identified a strong correlation between telecom infrastructure penetration and the growth in the GDP of developing nations. Although the past decade has experienced a phenomenal expansion in cellular networks in both the developed and developing worlds, only a small fraction of the world population has benefited from the Internet. In fact, Internet penetration in the developing nations is still an order of magnitude lower than in the developed world.

We develop new protocols and architectures aimed at building sustainable wireless networking solutions for the emerging markets of the world. The design of networking systems for developing nations must take into account such socio-economic challenges as low per capita income, high illiteracy rates, and a growing power crisis. These conditions entail that networking systems be reconfigurable to allow organic growth of the networking infrastructure, and maximize the utilization of available resources such as energy and channel capacity. Finally, for the long term viability of wireless networks in emerging markets, it is critical to support voice and video applications, especially in health and education services.

To this end, we develop a reconfigurable software platform that allows the implementation of novel, adaptive wireless medium access (MAC) protocols without requiring any changes to the existing 802.11 hardware. We demonstrate that application awareness at the lower layers of the networking stack can yield significant improvements in throughput and QoS for wireless network traffic in an energy-efficient manner. We design and implement a system that leverages the existing cellular infrastructure present in the developing world to provide wireless Internet connectivity. In this talk, we present the design and implementation of Whi-Spi, an adaptive medium access control
protocol for the recently unlicensed TV white spaces to build rural wireless broadband networks.

All welcome.