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Collision Avoidance in wireless networks

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 20 Mar, 2023
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We take a close look at so-called WiFi which is also known as IEEE standard 802.11 

Consider the situation depicted in the figure, where each of the four nodes is able to send and receive signals that reach just the nodes to its immediate left and right. For example, B can exchange frames with A and C but it cannot reach D, while C can reach B and D but not A. (A and D’s reach is not shown in the figure.) Suppose both A and C want to communicate with B and so they each send it a frame. A and C are unaware of each other since their signals do not carry that far. These two frames collide with each other at B, but unlike an Ethernet, neither A nor C is aware of this collision. A and C are said to be hidden nodes with respect to each other. According to Wikipedia, the hidden node problem can be defined as “In wireless networking, the hidden node problem or hidden terminal problem occurs when a node is visible to a wireless access point (AP), but not to other nodes communicating with that AP.”

Collision cannot be detected in hidden node problem

This is because the nodes A and C are out of range of each other(and so cannot detect a collision while transmitting). Thus, Carrier sense multiple access with collision detection (CSMA/CD) does not work, and collisions occur. The data received by the access point is corrupted due to the collision. To overcome the hidden node problem, RTS/CTS handshaking (IEEE 802.11 RTS/CTS) is implemented in addition to the Carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance (CSMA/CA) scheme. A related problem, called the exposed node problem, occurs under the following stated circumstances: Suppose B is sending to A (as in the above Figure). Node C is aware of this communication because it hears B’s transmission. It would be a mistake for C to conclude that it cannot transmit to anyone just because it can hear B’s transmission. For example, suppose C wants to transmit to node D. This is not a problem since C’s transmission to D will not interfere with A’s ability to receive from B. We address these problems by an algorithm known as Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance (MACA). The sender and receiver exchange frames with each other before transmitting data. This informs all nearby nodes that a transmission is about to begin. Sender transmits Request to Send (RTS) frame to receiver. The receiver then replies with clear to send (CTS) frame back to the sender. Any node that receives CTS frame knows that it is close to the receiver, therefore, cannot transmit a frame. Any node that receives the RTS frame but not the CTS frame knows that is not close to the receiver to interfere with it, So it is free to transmit data. Reference – Wikipedia This article is contributed by Nikhil Ranjan 10 and Palak Jain. If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article using or mail your article to See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or if you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.

Features of collision avoidance in wireless networks include:

  1. Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance (CSMA/CA): This is a protocol used in wireless networks to prevent data collisions. CSMA/CA ensures that a device checks for the presence of other signals before transmitting data, thus reducing the risk of collisions.
  2. Clear Channel Assessment (CCA): CCA is a mechanism used to determine whether a wireless channel is clear or busy before transmitting data. This feature helps to avoid collisions by ensuring that a device does not transmit data when the channel is already in use.
  3. Request to Send (RTS) and Clear to Send (CTS): RTS and CTS are signals that are sent between devices to reserve a channel for data transmission. These signals help to prevent collisions by ensuring that only one device transmits data at a time.
  4. Collision Detection: In cases where collisions do occur, collision detection helps to reduce their impact by allowing the devices to detect and retransmit the data.
  5. Backoff Algorithm: Backoff algorithm is a feature that ensures that devices wait for a random period before attempting to retransmit data in the event of a collision. This feature helps to reduce the risk of multiple devices attempting to transmit data simultaneously, which could result in further collisions.

Advantages of collision avoidance in wireless networks:

  1. Improved network efficiency: Collision avoidance helps to reduce the risk of data collisions, which can cause network congestion and slow down data transmission. By ensuring that devices transmit data one at a time, collision avoidance helps to improve network efficiency.
  2. Reduced data errors: Data collisions can lead to data errors and packet loss. Collision avoidance helps to reduce these errors by ensuring that data is transmitted in a controlled manner.
  3. Better network throughput: By reducing the risk of data collisions, collision avoidance helps to increase network throughput, allowing more data to be transmitted in a shorter period of time.

Fairness: Collision avoidance protocols like CSMA/CA ensure that all devices have an equal opportunity to transmit data, regardless of their position in the network. This helps to ensure fairness in the network.

Disadvantages of collision avoidance in wireless networks:

  1. Increased latency: Collision avoidance protocols like CSMA/CA introduce latency into the network, as devices have to wait for their turn to transmit data. This can lead to slower data transmission and increased response times.
  2. Network overhead: Collision avoidance protocols require additional signaling between devices, which can increase network overhead and reduce overall network efficiency.
  3. Limited scalability: Collision avoidance protocols like CSMA/CA may not scale well in larger networks with many devices. As the number of devices increases, the likelihood of collisions also increases, leading to decreased network efficiency.
  4. Complexity: Implementing collision avoidance protocols can be complex and require additional hardware and software resources. This can make it more challenging to manage and troubleshoot network issues.
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