If I fragment data on the MAC layer, can I improve the throughput fairness in 802.11?

Initially, I thought so, because if a client always sends very long frames and another client always sends short frames, the client with the long frames would always have a larger throughput than the other client. If I then enable fragmentation on both clients with the fragmentation threshold set to the frame length of the shorter frames, then both clients would always send frames of the same length, leading to the same throughput.

However, I am now wondering if this is the case. Because of the exponential backoff algorithm, could it happen that the client with the longer frames always sends all fragments in burst, and only then the other client is able to send its data?

I even tried to test this using iPerf, and for multiple clients sending with different frame lengths, I couldn't make out any difference with fragmentation on vs. off. Is there any way to use fragmentation to increase throughput fairness?

1 Answer 1


802.11 frame fragmentation isn't about bandwidth distribution, it's about getting a frame delivered in smaller fragments across a noisy channel.

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