Are All Bits Equal?-Experimental Study of IEEE 802.11 Communication Bit Errors
Recently, practical subframe-level schemes, such as frame combining and partial packet recovery, have been proposed for combating wireless transmission errors. These approaches depend heavily on the bit error behavior of wireless data transmissions, which is overlooked in the literature. We study the characteristics of subframe bit errors and their location distribution by conducting extensive experiments on several IEEE 802.11 WLAN testbeds. Our measurement results identify three bit error patterns: slope-line, saw-line, and finger. Among these three patterns, we have verified that the slope-line and saw-line are present in different physical environments and across various hardware platforms. However, the finger pattern does not appear on some platforms. We discuss our current hypotheses for the reasons behind these bit error patterns and how identifying these patterns may help improve the robustness of WLAN transmissions. We believe that identifiable bit error patterns can potentially introduce new opportunities in channel coding, network coding, forward error correction (FEC), and frame combining.