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Mobile Ad Hoc Network

A mobile ad hoc network (MANET) is a continuously self-configuring,
infrastructure-less network of mobile devices connected without wires. It is
vastly different from traditional networks with well documented infrastructures
and so gives rise to some unique problems not usually encountered in
traditional networks. One such problem is the reliability problem which results
from mobile devices working as routers. As opposed to traditional networks,
where the building blocks of a network infrastructure - switches, routers etc. are
considered to be more or less stationary, the building blocks of a MANET are
mobile which can interrupt smooth exchange of data, especially in case of fast
moving devices. This report looks into the reliability problem MANET and
proposes a solution that incorporates the use of the internet in tandem with
MANET to ensure high quality connection between hosts.

MANETs are a kind of wireless ad hoc network that usually has a routable
networking environment on top of a Link Layer ad hoc network. MANETs consist
of a peer-to-peer, self-forming, self-healing network. Various routing algorithms
developed for ad hoc networks can be used in MANET. These routing
algorithms can be divided into 4 main categories - Table Driven(proactive), OnDemand(reactive), Hybrid and Hierarchical.
Table driven protocols maintains fresh lists of destinations and their routes by
periodically distributing routing tables throughout the network. On-demand
protocol finds a route on demand by flooding the network with Route Request
packets. Hybrid type of protocol combines the advantages of proactive and
reactive routing. The routing is initially established with some proactively
prospected routes and then serves the demand from additionally activated
nodes through reactive flooding. With Hierarchical type of protocol the choice of
proactive and of reactive routing depends on the hierarchic level in which a
node resides. The routing is initially established with some proactively
prospected routes and then serves the demand from additionally activated
nodes through reactive flooding on the lower levels. The choice for one or the
other method requires proper attributation for respective levels.
To ensure compatibility with the protocols in the OSI network model, designed
with traditional network architecture in mind, a network layer protocol called
Internet MANET Encapsulation Protocol(IMEP) has been implemented to assist
the routing algorithms used in MANET as well as provide mechanisms for
supporting link status and neighbor connectivity sensing, control packet
aggregation and encapsulation, one-hop neighbor broadcast (or multicast)
reliability, multipoint relaying, network-layer address resolution and provides
hooks for interrouter authentication procedures.

Some of the earlier MANET routing algorithms, such as the AODV and DSDV
routing algorithms, do not take the quality of signal into account when
establishing routes. This results in highly unstable connection in real life
scenario, even though simulation results suggested otherwise. This is because
in real life scenarios a lot of factors play a role in successful transfer of data
even when the communicating devices are apparently in range, factors which
are not replicated in simulation softwares. This case can be observed clearly
specially when the wirelessly communicating devices are just in range of each
Each routing protocol used in MANET has its own disadvantages. However, this
report examines a problem with nature of MANET itself, irrelevant of the routing
protocols. Due to the mobile nature of the devices, two devices communicating
with each other can easily get disconnected if any of them, or some
intermediate devices playing critical roles in forming the route between them,
gets out of range of the network and MANET routing algorithms find no route
between them. This problem is very rare in traditional network architecture,
where routers are stationary. The ultimate result is the abrupt discontinuation of
communication. After a little observation, it becomes apparent that this problem,
given rise by highly dynamic network topology of MANET with extremely mobile
devices, is simply a generalization of the problem with AODV and DSDV, just
not limited to those earlier algorithms, but applicable to all the MANET routing
The following figure illustrates this problem.

Figure: Unreliable connection of mobiles nodes in MANET.

Let us consider a MANET topology with 2 moving mobile devices and 2

relatively stationary device. Let us assume that devices A and D are
communicating via VOIP using the SIP protocol while moving away from each
other. While they both are within the range of intermediate devices B or C, a
route can be formed to establish a connection. However, as soon as one or both
of A and D move out of range of the area covered by devices C and D, the
connection between A and D is dropped resulting in an abrupt discontinuation of
the VOIP service.

The proposed solution is to use the internet as a fallback network. This solution
is to be implemented at the IMEP protocol. At first, a threshold value for the
signal value will be set. Whenever signal quality reaches below the defined
threshold, routing algorithm will be requested to find another route to continue
the connection. If no such routes exist where the signal level is above the
specified threshold, then the fallback procedure will initiate. At the beginning of
this procedure, it has to be ensured that both devices can fallback to the
internet. One of the devices will send the other device a request to fallback to
the internet to continue communication. The other device will check to see if it
can connect to the internet and send its public IP address if internet is available
or a negative reply otherwise. If the other device sends a negative reply, then
the first device will stop the fallback procedure and the connection will be
dropped. If the other device replies with a valid IP address, the first device will
continue with the rest of the fallback procedure. It will connect to the internet
and use the other device's IP address to continue communication over internet.
The obvious challenge in this solution is finding a way for the other device to
send its public IP address to the first device. It needs to connect to the internet
to get a public IP and to connect to the internet it needs to leave the MANET.
One way to solve this problem requires the other device to disconnect from the
MANET, connect to the internet and record the public IP address, disconnect
from the internet and connect to the MANET again to send the public IP address
to the first device, disconnect from the MANET for the last time and finally
connect to the internet again, requesting the same public IP address from the
DHCP server that it received in the previous connection.

In this report, we have given an overview of MANET, how it differs from
traditional network architecture, types of routing algorithms and the protocol
responsible for integrating MANET in the OSI model. Then we looked into one
of the problems that arises in MANET due to the mobility of its routers and
proposed a, although trivial, solution to this problem. Lastly, in the next section
we discuss the future scope of this work.

Future Work
The solution proposed in this report makes many assumptions but proposes no
mechanisms to validate those assumptions. We have assumed the whole
fallback to the internet procedure will complete before the communicating
devices move out of the MANET. Although the way the proposed algorithms
works ensures that the fallback procedure starts well before the communicating
devices move far away from each other by setting a high threshold value, in real
life situations this will probably not be very effective and this area is open for
future research. The assumption that a device, after getting a public IP once,
disconnecting and connecting to the internet again, will get the same public IP
simply by requesting for it from the DHCP server is also not very sound. The
proposed solution is purely a hypothesis. Further research can be done to solve
the problem of continuing MANET communication over internet.