Radio link control (RLC) protocols are typically employed for reliable in-sequence delivery of service data units (SDUs) in wireless packet data systems. The RLC layer segments packets obtained from the upper layer (referred to as SDUs) into smaller RLC transmission units (or blocks) and uses selective-repeat automatic repeat request (SR-ARQ) for error recovery of RLC blocks. In earlier work, SR-ARQ performance is typically characterized in terms of the long-term throughput or in-sequence delivery delay of RLC blocks. The SDU delivery delay which is a more meaningful measure of RLC performance (in terms of the service provided to a higher layer, e.g., transmission control protocol) has not been quantified. In this paper, we analyze the SDU delivery delay of SR-ARQ as a function of the SDU size and the channel coding scheme employed. Closed-form delay expressions as well as approximations are provided. The analysis is verified through enhanced general packet radio service RLC simulations. Based on the analysis, we propose that link adaptation be backlog dependent in order to reduce the SDU delivery delay at the RLC layer.
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