MAR: A Commuter Router Infrastructure for the Mobile Internet

Pablo Rodriguez, Rajiv Chakravorty, Julian Chesterfield, Ian Pratt, Suman Banerjee


We introduce MAR, a commuter mobile access router infrastructure that exploits wireless diversity (e.g. channel diversity, network diversity, and technology diversity) to provide improved data performance for wireless data users. Our system design stems from the observation that rather than choosing a single wireless service provider (e.g. Sprint, AT&T, BT, Vodafone), a single technology (e.g. GPRS, UMTS, CDMA, 802.11), or a single wireless channel, users can obtain significant benefits by using the multiplicity of choices available. MAR is a wireless multi-homed device that can be placed in moving vehicles (e.g. car, bus, train) to enable high-speed data access. MAR dynamically instantiates new channels based on traffic demand, aggregates the bandwidth and dynamically shifts load from poor quality to better quality channels. MAR, thus, provides a faster, more stable, and reliable communication channel to mobile users. We have implemented and tested the MAR system in our testbed which spans the networks of three different cellular providers. Through our experiments we have performed a detailed evaluation to quantify the benefits of MAR for different protocols and applications. For example, even in highly mobile environments, MAR, on average, improves the end-user experience of web-browsing and streaming applications by a factor of 2.8 and 4.4 respectively. Our results show that significant benefits can be obtained by exploiting the diversity in coverage offered by many cellular operators, different technology networks (e.g. GPRS, CDMA), and diverse wireless channels.