Scholarly Communications Project

Improving the Performance of the World Wide Web over Wireless Networks


Todd B. Fleming

Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science


Electrical Engineering


Scott F. Midkiff, Chair
Nathaniel J. Davis
F. Gail Gray

November 4, 1996
Blacksburg, Virginia


The World Wide Web (WWW) has become the largest source of Internet traffic, but it was not designed for wireless networks. Documents with large inline images take a long time to fetch over low-bandwidth wireless networks. Radio signal dropouts cause file transfers to abort; users have to restart file transfers from the beginning. Dropouts also prevent access to documents that have not yet been visited by the user. All of these problems create user frustration and limit the utility of the WWW and wireless networks.

In this work, a new Wireless World Wide Web (WWWW) proxy server and protocol were developed that address these problems. A client based on NCSA Mosaic connects to the proxy server using the new protocol, Multiple Hypertext Stream Protocol (MHSP). The proxy prefetches documents to the client, including inline images. The proxy also reduces the resolution of large bitmaps to improve performance over slow links. MHSP provides the ability to resume file transfers when the link has been broken then reestablished.

The WWWW system was tested and evaluated by running script-controlled clients on different emulated network environments. This new system decreased document load time an average of 32 to 37 percent, depending on network configuration.

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