Abstract: Wireless local area networks (WLANs) are emerging as a popular technology for access to the Internet and enterprise networks. In the long term, the success of WLANs depends on services that support mobile network clients.
Although other researchers have explored mobility prediction in hypothetical scenarios, evaluating their predictors analytically or with synthetic data, few studies have been able to evaluate their predictors with real user mobility data. As a first step towards filling this fundamental gap, we work with a large data set collected from the Dartmouth College campus-wide wireless network that hosts more than 500 access points and 6,000 users. Extending our earlier work that focuses on predicting the next-visited access point (i.e., location), in this work we explore the predictability of the time of user mobility. Indeed, our contributions are two-fold. First, we evaluate a series of predictors that reflect possible dependencies across time and space while benefiting from either individual or group mobility behaviors. Second, as a case study we examine voice applications and the use of handoff prediction for advance bandwidth reservation. Using application-specific performance metrics such as call drop and call block rates, we provide a picture of the potential gains of prediction.
Our results indicate that it is difficult to predict handoff time accurately, when applied to real campus WLAN data. However, the findings of our case study also suggest that application performance can be improved significantly even with predictors that are only moderately accurate. The gains depend on the applications' ability to use predictions and tolerate inaccurate predictions. In the case study, we combine the real mobility data with synthesized traffic data. The results show that intelligent prediction can lead to significant reductions in the rate at which active calls are dropped due to handoffs with marginal increments in the rate at which new calls are blocked.
Keywords: mobile computing, wireless, network
Copyright © 2006 by IEEE.The copy made available here is the authors' version; for a definitive copy see the publisher's version described above.