Nomadic Communications - aa 2013-14

Past academic year courses: bottom page

The course is held, as usual, jointly by Dr. Alessandro Villani and myself.

I will cover mostly the theoric/descriptive parts, while Alessandro will take care of the labs. The program is described on the official Faculty page. Labs are mandatory, part of the exam will be based on Lab reports. This year the labs will be centered on protocol design and manipulation on OpenFWWF-enabled devices.

Bill Board

  • Mon. May 12: Today we finish the seminar by Michele Segata on Vehicular Networks in the afternoon: 16-19 Room A108.
    Next monday (May 19) we have the final seminar on Mesh Networks given by Leonardo Maccari again 16-18 in room A108.
    Labs will continue regularly until the end of the semester.
  • Sun. Apr. 27: Tomorrow morning we have regular theory lessons, in the afternoon there is laborotory as adreed before Easter.
  • Wed. Mar. 26: The Lab of April 2 is canceled for the ICT days. Today we have a 1/2 hour seminar at the beginning of the Lab on an "OpenFWWF Success Story" given by
  • Mon. Mar. 17: Remember we now have theory only monday morning. For next wednesday labs, we meet at 2PM at the reception of Povo2, then we go to the lab together. Le labs are at level -2 in Povo 2. Please, bring your own laptops as we will need them as remote terminals of the devices. If you have a Linux on them ... all the better.
  • Wed. Mar. 11: It is now time to start thinking about labs groups. Next wednesdays you will start hands-on work. Each group will be assigned 4 devices to "play with". We need 4-5 groups, if there are more we might have problems with devices ... and interference too.
  • Sat. Mar. 8: Monday we have a seinar by Francesco Gringoli on OpenFWWF. The seminar will be in Room 208 starting at 14.00. About 2h 2h:30 will be dedicated to the description of OpenFWWF, its philosophy and usage, then we start having a hands-n look at the devices we'll use in the labs.


We begin the course with a rush on theory, in order to have enough knowledge of Wireless Networks, WIFI and 802.11 standard and systems before we start the Labs. This means that the first two weeks we have 6 hours of theory:

  • Monday Feb. 17, 9:00-11:00 room A108
  • Monday Feb. 17, 16:00-18:00 room A108
  • Wednesday Feb. 19, 16:00-18:00 room A108
  • Monday Feb. 24, 9:00-11:00 room A108
  • Monday Feb. 24, 16:00-18:00 room A108

The first week of March we do not have lessons.

March 10 we start the regular calendar

  • Theory: Mondays 9:00-11:00 room A108
  • Labs
    • Mondays 14:00-18:00, Networking Teaching Labs at level -2 in Povo 2. the lab is reserved for you to complete experiments, play with devices, start writing reports. Me or Alessandro may drop-by from time to time, but our presence is not guaranteed.
    • Wednesdays 14:00-18:00, Networking Teaching Labs at level -2 in Povo 2. Wednesdays are now the "official hours" in calendar. Alessandro, often Francesco Gringoli will also be present too, will explain the laboratory topic, help you setup experiments and answer all questions.


The formal exams dates during the summer will be defined later during the course.

You have to subscribe via ESSE3 when you want to take the exam, however the actual date of the exam is free, you just have to take an appointment with me. I strongly encourage groups to take the oral together, but there is no fromal requirement on this.

The oral can be taken when the lab reports are delivered in their final form, but you have to allow me 3-4 days minimum to correct the reports. I can receive and correct reports via e-mail also when I'm not in Trento in July, but in June.

Labs Organization

This year the labs are centered on actual impementation and design of MAC protocols on embedded Linux devices featuring the OpenFWWF platform.

OpenFWWF is a reverse-engineered platform that provides an easy and inexpensive platform to implement new Medium Access Control (MAC) mechanisms and protocols, and is a valid alternative to simulations and expensive ad-hoc platforms. The combination of OpenFWWF and b43 driver is a complete and cheap tool that makes testing of new MAC easy achievable, which let us run true lab work on nomadic systems and appreciate differences between design chioces and various options in wireless protocol design.

Labs are best done in pairs, specially for writing the reports. Groups of three are accepted, as well as singles. More than three the work bocomes too dispersive.

Here is a template and LaTeX style to write decent reports, with some hints on the organization.

Teaching and Support Material

We don't have any "official textbook." Here are the printouts of the slides I use to follow a predefined course while teaching. They are by no means a textbook and I will spend maybe half a lesson on a single slide and ... surf over the next 10 in 10 minutes. They are intended to help you in scribbling notes, not to substitute the lessons. They are posted before the lesson, sometimes the evening before, but normally with a couple of days advance. If you want to have an idea of the whole material you can check the material of the past years, but I normally change part of the course, so do not entirely rely on old material.

  • Introduction, general notions and rehearsal of known concepts: MAC protocols and protocol architectures.
  • 802.11: The WLAN standard. Generalities, the base access protocol and the different PHY layers.
  • 802.11e: Changing the MAC to differentaite service, enchance fairnes and differentiate services.
  • 802.11n: Using Space diversity to enchance capacity and resilience.
  • Ad-hoc, Mesh and Vehicular Networks: a Primer.
  • Vehicular Networks Seminar by Michele Segata.
  • Wireless Mmsh and Community Networks Seminar by Leonardo Maccari


Just for the braves
The 802.11 standard and related documents are available for free download (but you need to register) from the IEEE 802.11 website Includes 802.11b/g/a/h/n; 802.11e and much more. You can consider it the ultimate source of information, but it is unfortunately a bit hard to read and ... it is 2793 pages!

Academic Years