3.8. Use RTS/CTS to avoid hidden station problem


Another MAC-layer problem specific to wireless is the ?hidden node? issue, in which two stations on opposite sides of an access point can both ?hear? activity from an access point, but not from each other, usually due to distance or an obstruction. To solve this problem, 802.11 specifies an optional Request to Send/Clear to Send (RTS/CTS) protocol at the MAC layer. When this feature is in use, a sending station transmits an RTS and waits for the access point to reply with a CTS. Since all stations in the network can hear the access point, the CTS causes them to delay any intended transmissions, allowing the sending station to transmit and receive a packet acknowledgment without any chance of collision. Since RTS/CTS adds additional overhead to the network by temporarily reserving the medium, it is typically used only on the largest-sized packets, for which retransmission would be expensive from a bandwidth standpoint.