TCP Westwood: Bandwidth estimation for enhanced transport over wireless links
TCP Westwood (TCPW) is a sender-side modification of the TCP congestion window algorithm that improves upon the performance of TCP Reno in wired as well as wireless networks. The improvement is most significant in wireless networks with lossy links, since TCP Westwood relies on end-to-end bandwidth estimation to discriminate the cause of packet loss (congestion or wireless channel effect) which is a major problem in TCP Reno. An important distinguishing feature of TCP Westwood with respect to previous wireless TCP “extensions” is that it does not require inspection and/or interception of TCP packets at intermediate (proxy) nodes. Rather, it fully complies with the end-to-end TCP design principle. The key innovative idea is to continuously measure at the TCP source the rate of the connection by monitoring the rate of returning ACKs. The estimate is then used to compute congestion window and slow start threshold after a congestion episode, that is, after three duplicate acknowledgments or after a timeout. The rationale of this strategy is simple: in contrast with TCP Reno, which “blindly” halves the congestion window after three duplicate ACKs, TCP Westwood attempts to select a slow start threshold and a congestion window which are consistent with the effective bandwidth used at the time congestion is experienced. We call this mechanism faster recovery. The proposed mechanism is particularly effective over wireless links where sporadic losses due to radio channel problems are often misinterpreted as a symptom of congestion by current TCP schemes and thus lead to an unnecessary window reduction. Experimental studies reveal improvements in throughput performance, as well as in fairness. In addition, friendliness with TCP Reno was observed in a set of experiments showing that TCP Reno connections are not starved by TCPW connections. Most importantly, TCPW is extremely effective in mixed wired and wireless networks where throughput improvements of up to 550% are observed. Finally, TCPW performs almost as well as localized link layer approaches such as the popular Snoop scheme, without incurring the O/H of a specialized link layer protocol.