This paper explores the possibility of injecting mobility into wireless network infrastructure. We envision WiFi APs on wheels that move to optimize user performance. Movements need not be all around the floor, neither do they have to operate on batteries. As a first step, WiFi APs at home could remain tethered to power and Ethernet outlets while moving in small areas (perhaps under the couch). If such systems prove successful, perhaps future buildings could offer explicit support for network infrastructure mobility. This paper begins with a higher level discussion of robotic wireless networks-the opportunities and the hurdles-and then pivots by developing a smaller slice of the vision through a system called iMob. With iMob, a WiFi AP is mounted on a Roomba robot and made to periodically move within a 2x2 sqft region. The core questions pertain to finding the best location to move to, such that the SNRs from its clients are strong, and the interferences from other APs are weak. Our measurements show that the richness of wireless multipath offers significant opportunities-even within a 2x2 sqft region, locations exist that are 1.7x better than the average location in terms of throughput. When multiple APs in a neighborhood coordinate, the gains can be even higher. In sum, although infrastructure mobility has been discussed in the context of Google Balloons, ad hoc networks, and delay tolerant networks, we believe that the possibility of moving our personal devices in homes and offices is relatively unexplored, and could open doors to new kinds of innovation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Networks and Communications
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering