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Refereed Papers

Track: Technology for Developing Regions

Paper Title:
Long Distance Wireless Mesh Network Planning: Problem Formulation and Solution


Several research efforts as well as deployments have chosen IEEE 802.11 as a low-cost, long-distance access technology to bridge the digital divide. In this paper, we consider the important issue of planning such networks to the minimize system cost. This is a non-trivial task since it involves several sets of variables: the network topology, tower heights, antenna types to be used and their orientations, and radio transmit powers. The task is further complicated due to the presence of network performance constraints, and the inter-dependence among the variables. Our first contribution in this paper is the formulation of this problem in terms of the variables, constraints and the optimization criterion. Our second contribution is in identifying the dependencies among the variables and breaking-down the problem into four tractable sub-parts. In this process, we extensively use domain knowledge to strike a balance between tractability and practicality.

We have evaluated the proposed algorithms using random input sets as well as real-life instances with success. We have been able to show detailed planning of network topology, required tower heights, antenna types, and transmit powers for the Ashwini project, a long distance WiFi network under deployment in Andhra Pradesh, India, In this case, we are able to achieve within 2% additional cost of a lower bound estimate.

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