Interactive WiFi Connectivity For Moving Vehicles

  • Aruna Balasubramanian ,
  • Ratul Mahajan ,
  • Arun Venkataramani ,
  • Brian Levine ,
  • John Zahorjan



We ask if the ubiquity of WiFi can be leveraged to provide cheap connectivity from moving vehicles for common applications such as Web browsing and VoIP. Driven by this question, we conduct a study of connection quality available to vehicular WiFi clients based on measurements from testbeds in two different cities. We find that current WiFi handoff methods, in which clients communicate with one basestation at a time, lead to frequent disruptions in connectivity. We also find that clients can overcome many disruptions by communicating with multiple basestations simultaneously. These findings lead us to develop ViFi, a protocol that opportunistically exploits basestation diversity to minimize disruptions and support interactive applications for mobile clients. ViFi uses a decentralized and lightweight probabilistic algorithm for coordination between participating basestations. Our evaluation using a two-month long deployment and trace-driven simulations shows that its link-layer performance comes close to an ideal diversity-based protocol. Using two applications, VoIP and short TCP transfers, we show that the link layer performance improvement translates to better application performance. In our deployment, ViFi doubles the number of successful short TCP transfers and doubles the length of disruption-free VoIP sessions compared to an existing WiFi-style handoff protocol.