A Mobile Ad hoc Network (MANET) is a collection of mobile nodes connected together over a wireless medium, which self-organize into an autonomous multi-hop wireless network. This kind of networks allows people and devices to seamlessly internetwork in areas with no pre-existing communication infrastructure, e.g., disaster recovery environments. Ad hoc networking is not a new concept, having been around in various forms for over 20 years. However, in the past only tactical networks followed the ad hoc networking paradigm. Recently, the introduction of new technologies such as IEEE 802.11, are moved the application field of MANETs to a more commercial field. These evolutions have been generating a renewed and growing interest in the research and development of MANETs.
It is widely recognized that a prerequisite for the commercial penetration of the ad hoc networking technologies is the integration with existing wired/wireless infrastructure-based networks to provide an easy and transparent access to the Internet and its services. However, most of the existing solutions for enabling the interconnection between MANETs and the Internet are based on complex and inefficient mechanisms, as Mobile-IP and IP tunnelling. This thesis describes an alternative approach to build multi-hop and heterogeneous proactive ad hoc networks, which can be used as flexible and low-cost extensions of traditional wired LANs. The proposed architecture provides transparent global Internet connectivity and address autocofiguration capabilities to mobile nodes without requiring configuration changes in the pre-existing wired LAN, and relying on basic layer-2 functionalities. This thesis also includes an experimental evaluation of the proposed architecture and a comparison between this architecture with a well-known alternative NAT-based solution. The experimental outcomes confirm that the proposed technique ensures higher per-connection throughputs than the NAT-based solution.
This thesis also examines the problems encountered by TCP over multi-hop ad hoc networks. Research on efficient transport protocols for ad hoc networks is one of the most active topics in the MANET community. Such a great interest is basically motivated by numerous observations showing that, in general, TCP is not able to efficiently deal with the unstable and very dynamic environment provided by multi-hop ad hoc networks. This is because some assumptions, in TCP design, are clearly inspired by the characteristics of wired networks dominant at the time when it was conceived. More specifically, TCP implicitly assumes that packet loss is almost always due to congestion phenomena causing buffer overflows at intermediate routers. Furthermore, it also assumes that nodes are static (i.e., they do not change their position over time). Unfortunately, these assumptions do not hold in MANETs, since in this kind of networks packet losses due to interference and link-layer contentions are largely predominant, and nodes may be mobile. The typical approach to solve these problems is patching TCP to fix its inefficiencies while preserving compatibility with the original protocol. This thesis explores a different approach. Specifically, this thesis presents a new transport protocol (TPA) designed from scratch, and address TCP interoperability at a late design stage. In this way, TPA can include all desired features in a neat and coherent way. This thesis also includes an experimental, as well as, a simulative evaluation of TPA, and a comparison between TCP and TPA performance (in terms of throughput, number of unnecessary transmissions and fairness). The presented analysis considers several of possible configurations of the protocols parameters, different routing protocols, and various networking scenarios. In all the cases taken into consideration TPA significantly outperforms TCP.