MOWSER: Wireless Web Access
January 1, 1999 - August 1, 2000
The software and protocols associated with information browsing systems are largely designed with static hosts and wired networks in mind, HTTP and the Web are a case in point. Static hosts are connected to wired, high bandwidth networks, and are capable of transmitting and receiving large amounts of data without significant delays. As such, the size and format of the data files being received by the browser/client has never been a concern. However, this causes problems when information access is desired on mobile hosts (MH), since data transmission over a wireless network is much slower than on a wired network. Mobile computers are also relatively resource-poor, compared to their desktop counterparts. This fact is ignored by HTTP servers, and large data files are transmitted to computers that cannot properly display them. Also, mobile computers operate in constantly changing network environments. It is possible for a mobile computer to become temporarily disconnected from a network when it changes base stations or goes out of range of a base station. A mobile host may also doze off to preserve battery power and thus be disconnected. The information browsing system and protocols assocaiated with mobile computers should thus be able to tolerate the fault of temporary disconnection.
These problems have been recognized in academic literature since the mid 90s. Mowser, an active project since 1994, has been focused on addressing these problems in the context of web browsing from a mobile host. The current model of Web browsing is inherently sequential, and wasteful of bandwidth. Our research investigates an efficient model for browsing and describes the design of a smart Web browsing application which operates based on the user's available resources and manages disconnection. Initial work on Mowser focussed on a Proxy oriented approach. More recent work has combined end--end and proxy approaches, and is implemented as a Apache module.