Telecom Techniques Guide


What are the disadvantages of automatic repeat request?

What are the disadvantages of automatic repeat request?

Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) is a communication protocol used to improve the reliability of data transmission over unreliable or error-prone channels. While ARQ is effective at detecting and correcting errors, it also comes with its own set of disadvantages and trade-offs. In this detailed explanation, we will explore the disadvantages of ARQ:

Increased Latency:

One of the primary disadvantages of ARQ is the potential increase in communication latency. When errors are detected, ARQ requests the retransmission of the corrupted data packets.

This retransmission process introduces additional delays, which can be problematic for real-time or time-sensitive applications, such as video conferencing or online gaming.

Reduced Throughput:

ARQ can reduce the overall throughput of a communication link. When errors occur, the sender must retransmit the data, which consumes additional bandwidth and time.

In high-error-rate environments, where frequent retransmissions are required, the effective data transfer rate can be significantly lower than the raw channel capacity.

Synchronization Challenges:

ARQ protocols rely on maintaining synchronization between the sender and receiver. The receiver must acknowledge received packets and request retransmissions for missing or corrupted packets.

If synchronization is lost due to network issues or packet loss, it can lead to inefficiencies or even deadlock situations where retransmissions are continuously requested but not acknowledged.

Inefficient Use of Bandwidth:

ARQ may lead to inefficient use of available bandwidth. Retransmissions of lost or corrupted packets can consume additional network resources, and if not managed properly, it can result in bandwidth wastage.

This inefficiency can be particularly problematic in networks with limited bandwidth or high contention for resources.

Impact on Real-Time Applications:

ARQ is not always suitable for real-time applications where a constant flow of data is required. The delay introduced by retransmissions can disrupt the continuity of audio or video streams.

In applications like voice calls or live video streaming, a momentary loss of data can lead to a poor user experience.

Complexity and Overhead:

Implementing ARQ protocols adds complexity to both the sender and receiver sides of the communication system. These protocols require additional logic and processing power to manage acknowledgments and retransmissions.

The overhead introduced by ARQ can be significant, especially in low-power or resource-constrained devices.

Limited Effectiveness in High-Error Environments:

ARQ may struggle to provide reliable communication in environments with extremely high error rates or severe channel impairments. In such cases, frequent retransmissions may not be sufficient to overcome the challenges posed by the channel.

Alternative error correction techniques or more robust communication protocols may be required in these situations.

Susceptibility to Error Clusters:

ARQ is susceptible to error clustering, where multiple errors occur within close proximity in the data stream. If errors cluster together, it can lead to multiple retransmissions of adjacent packets, further increasing latency and reducing throughput.

Techniques like Forward Error Correction (FEC) are better suited to handle error clusters.

Finite Buffer Size:

ARQ requires buffers at both the sender and receiver to store transmitted and received data until acknowledgments are received. The size of these buffers is finite and can be a limitation in some scenarios.

Buffer overflow or underflow issues can occur if the buffer size is not appropriately chosen or if there are variations in data arrival rates.

Overhead in Wireless Networks:

In wireless networks, especially those with high error rates, ARQ can introduce additional overhead due to retransmissions. This overhead includes not only the retransmitted data but also control packets such as acknowledgments and requests for retransmission.

The added overhead can consume valuable airtime and reduce the efficiency of wireless communication.

In conclusion, Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) is a valuable error recovery mechanism in communication systems, but it comes with several disadvantages, including increased latency, reduced throughput, synchronization challenges, inefficient use of bandwidth, impact on real-time applications, complexity and overhead, limited effectiveness in high-error environments, susceptibility to error clustering, finite buffer size, and overhead in wireless networks. When implementing ARQ, it’s essential to carefully consider these disadvantages and strike a balance between error recovery and the requirements of the specific application or network environment.

Recent Updates