The hidden cost of hidden terminals

Feilu Liu, Jian Lin, Zhifeng Tao, Thanasis Korakis, Elza Erkip, Shivendra Panwar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The performance unfairness problem in a single cell IEEE 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN) is considered. While existing research is based on the assumption that all nodes have the same transmission success probability and per-node throughput, this fairness exists only if all nodes within range of the access point can sense each other. Recent measurements suggest that this is not necessarily true and terminals can be hidden from each other. In this paper, the impact of hidden terminals on the performance unfairness among individual nodes is investigated via analysis, simulation and experimental measurements in a real network. In the presence of hidden terminals, it is observed that the widely accepted conclusion of equal performance among nodes does not hold any more. Instead, nodes far from the access point (AP) see more hidden terminals than those close to the AP, so they get more packet losses and lower throughput. This phenomenon is not due to inter-cell interference, or channel disparities among nodes, and is significant even when the RTS/CTS mechanism designed to mitigate the impact of hidden terminals is turned on. The simulation results show that for a 16-node WLAN with a fixed data rate of 6Mbps, the throughput of a node close to the AP is more than twice that of an edge node, due to hidden terminals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2010 IEEE International Conference on Communications, ICC 2010
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 IEEE International Conference on Communications, ICC 2010 - Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: May 23 2010May 27 2010

Publication series

NameIEEE International Conference on Communications
ISSN (Print)0536-1486


Other2010 IEEE International Conference on Communications, ICC 2010
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
CityCape Town


  • 802.11
  • CSMA
  • Hidden terminal
  • Measurement
  • Performance unfairness
  • Throughput
  • Wireless LAN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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