Scaling multi-user MIMO WLANs: The case for concurrent uplink control messages Academic Article uri icon


  • Downlink Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) enables the simultaneous spatial sharing of the channel by multiple users to achieve a capacity gain over Single-Input Single-Output (SISO) systems. Unfortunately, the overhead required to enable multi-user MIMO is much higher than the overhead required for single-stream systems. Namely, for K users, collection of channel state information requires K transmission exchanges (i.e., O(K)) between the AP and users. Likewise, the MU-MIMO acknowledgement process also requires the same amount of exchanges, thus reducing the performance gains attained via simultaneous downlink transmission. In this paper, we design, implement, and experimentally evaluate Concurrent Uplink Control Messages (CUiC) to scale the MU-MIMO control information exchange process and improve the efficiency of 802.11ac-based MU-MIMO networks. Our key technique is the design of new channel sounding and acknowledgement mechanisms that enable multiple users to transmit their reverse-direction control messages (i.e., beamforming reports and acknowledgments) concurrently to the AP, in O(1) transmission slots. We implement CUiC and perform an extensive set of experiments and demonstrate throughput gains of more than 100% compared to 802.11ac.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015