Wireless mesh networks (WMNs) have been proposed to provide cheap, easily deployable and robust Internet access. The dominant Internet-bound traffic from clients causes a congestion bottleneck around the gateway, which can significantly limit the throughput of the WMN clients in accessing the Internet.

In this paper, we present MeshCache, a transparent caching system for WMNs that exploits the locality in client Internet-bound traffic to mitigate the bottleneck effect at the gateway, thereby improving client perceived performance. MeshCache leverages the fact that a WMN typically spans a small geographic

area and hence mesh routers are easily over-provisioned with CPU, memory, and disk storage, and extends the individual wireless mesh routers in a WMN with built-in content caching functionality. It then performs cooperative caching among the wireless mesh routers.

We explore two architecture designs for MeshCache: (1) caching at every client access mesh router upon file download, and (2) caching at each mesh router along the route the Internet traffic travels, which requires breaking a single end-to-end transport connection into multiple single-hop transport connections along the route. We also leverage the abundant research results from cooperative web caching in the Internet in designing cache selection protocols for efficiently locating caches containing data objects for these two architectures. We further compare these two MeshCache designs with caching at the gateway router only.

Through extensive simulations and evaluations using a prototype implementation on a testbed, we find that MeshCache can significantly improve the performance of client nodes in WMNs. In particular, our experiments with a Squid-based MeshCache implementation deployed on the MAP mesh network testbed

with 15 routers show that compared to caching at the gateway only, the MeshCache architecture with hop-by-hop caching reduces the load at the gateway by 38%, improves the average client throughput by 170%, and increases the number of transfers that achieve a throughput greater than 1 Mbps by a factor of 3.


Wireless mesh networks, cooperative caching, system design and implementation, crosslayering

Date of this Version

August 2006