User-AP Association Management in Software-Defined WLANs


Despite the planned operation of enterprise wireless local area networks (WLANs), they still experience unsatisfactory performance due to several inefficiencies. One of the major issues is the so-called sticky user problem, in which users~remain connected to an access point (AP) until the signal quality becomes too weak. In this paper, we leverage software-defined networking (SDN) to propose a user association solution for WLANs aiming to mitigate such inefficiencies, thus improving resource utilization. As it is a computationally hard problem, we also design various low-complexity user-AP association schemes that consider not only signal quality but also AP loads and minimum quality requirements for user traffic. Moreover, to provide simultaneous content distribution in a sustainable mode, we propose exploiting link-layer multicasting to decide on user-AP associations. Our analysis via simulations and experimentation on an open-source testbed shows that considering user-AP association jointly with multicast delivery leads to a significant performance increase over the default client-driven approach: the median throughput is 11x higher when all users request the same content and the achieved improvement decreases to 68% for 100 contents. Moreover, due to more efficient use of the airtime, unicast users achieve higher throughput if multicast delivery is exploited.

IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management