One more bit is enough

Yong Xia, Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, Ion Stoica, Shivkumar Kalyanaraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Achieving efficient and fair bandwidth allocation while minimizing packet loss in high bandwidth-delay product networks has long been a daunting challenge. Existing end-to-end congestion control (eg TCP) and traditional congestion notification schemes (eg TCP+AQM/ECN) have significant limitations in achieving this goal. While the recently proposed XCP protocol addresses this challenge, XCP requires multiple bits to encode the congestion-related information exchanged between routers and end-hosts. Unfortunately, there is no space in the IP header for these bits, and solving this problem involves a non-trivial and time-consuming standardization process.In this paper, we design and implement a simple, low-complexity protocol, called Variable-structure congestion Control Protocol (VCP), that leverages only the existing two ECN bits for network congestion feedback, and yet achieves comparable performance to XCP, ie high utilization, low persistent queue length, negligible packet loss rate, and reasonable fairness. On the downside, VCP converges significantly slower to a fair allocation than XCP. We evaluate the performance of VCP using extensive ns2 simulations over a wide range of network scenarios. To gain insight into the behavior of VCP, we analyze a simple fluid model, and prove a global stability result for the case of a single bottleneck link shared by flows with identical round-trip times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalComputer Communication Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • AQM
  • Congestion control
  • ECN
  • Protocol
  • TCP
  • XCP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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