Network Working Group                                         T. Clausen
Internet-Draft                                      A. Colin de Verdiere
Intended status: Informational
Expires: September 28, 2018                                        J. Yi
                                                     Ecole Polytechnique
                                                              U. Herberg

                                                             Y. Igarashi
                                        Hitachi, Ltd., Yokohama Research
                                                          March 27, 2018

   Observations on RPL: IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low power and Lossy


   With RPL - the "IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-power Lossy Networks" -
   published as a Proposed Standard after a ~2-year development cycle,
   this document presents an observation of the resulting protocol, of
   its applicability, and of its limits.  The documents presents a
   selection of observations on the protocol characteristics, exposes
   experiences acquired when producing various prototype implementations
   of RPL, and presents results obtained from testing this protocol - by
   way of network simulations, in network testbeds and in deployments.
   The document aims at providing a better understanding of possible
   limits of RPL, notably the possible directions that further protocol
   developments should explore, in order to address these.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on September 28, 2018.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2018 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
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   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   2.  Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   3.  RPL Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     3.1.  RPL Message Emission Timing - Trickle Timers . . . . . . .  7
   4.  Requirement Of DODAG Root  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     4.1.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   5.  RPL Data Traffic Flows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     5.1.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   6.  Fragmentation Of RPL Control Messages And Data Packet  . . . . 12
     6.1.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   7.  The DAO Mechanism: Downward and Point-to-Point Routes  . . . . 15
     7.1.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   8.  Address Aggregation and Summarization  . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
     8.1.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   9.  Link Bidirectionality Verification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
     9.1.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   10. Neighbor Unreachability Detection For Unidirectional Links . . 20
     10.1. Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   11. RPL Implementability and Complexity  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
     11.1. Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   12. Underspecification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
     12.1. Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   13. Protocol Convergence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
     13.1. Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
     13.2. Caveat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
   14. Loops  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
     14.1. Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
   15. Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
   16. IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
   17. Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
   18. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

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1.  Introduction

   RPL - the "Routing Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks"
   [RFC6550] - is a proposal for an IPv6 routing protocol for Low-power
   Lossy Networks (LLNs), by the ROLL Working Group in the Internet
   Engineering Task Force (IETF).  This routing protocol is intended to
   be the IPv6 routing protocol for LLNs and sensor networks, applicable
   in all kinds of deployments and applications of LLNs.

   The objective of RPL and ROLL at the time of development and
   publication of [RFC6550] in 2012 is to provide routing in networks
   which "comprise up to thousands of nodes" [roll-charter], where the
   majority of the nodes have very constrained resources [RFC7102], and
   where handling mobility is not an explicit design criteria [RFC5867],
   [RFC5826], [RFC5673], [RFC5548].

   [roll-charter] in 2012 states that "Typical traffic patterns are not
   simply unicast flows (e.g. in some cases most if not all traffic can
   be point to multipoint)".  [RFC7102] further categorizes the
   supported traffic types into "upward" traffic from sensors to an
   actuator or LBR (LLN Border Router) (denoted multipoint-to-point),
   "downward" traffic from the actuator or LBR to the sensors (denoted
   point-to-multipoint) and traffic from "sensor to sensor" (denoted
   point-to-point traffic), and establishes this terminology for these
   traffic types.  Thus, while the target for RPL and ROLL is to support
   all of these traffic types, the emphasis among these, according to
   [roll-charter], appears to be to optimize for multipoint-to-point
   traffic, while also supporting point-to-multipoint and point-to-point

   With experiences obtained since the publication of RPL as [RFC6550],
   it is opportune to document observations of the protocol, in order to
   understand which aspects of it work well and which necessitate
   further investigations.  Understanding possible limitations is
   important to identify issues which may restrict the deployment scope
   of the protocol and which may need further protocol work or

   The LLNs have different technologies at the link and physical layer,
   including IEEE 802.15.4 [ieee802154], IEEE 802.15.4g [ieee802154g],
   IEEE G3-PLC (Power Line Communication) [g3-plc].  They varies in
   terms of data rate, MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit), modulation, etc.
   The observations made in this document, except when explicitly noted
   otherwise, do not depend on any specific implementation or
   deployment, but can be understood by analyzing the protocol
   specification [RFC6550].  That said, all observations made have been
   confirmed to also be present in, at least, some deployments or test
   platforms with RPL, i.e., have been experimentally confirmed.

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   This document is explicitly not an implementation guidebook for RPL.
   It has as objective to document observations of behaviors of
   [RFC6550], in the spirit of better understanding the characteristics
   and limits of the protocol.

2.  Terminology

   This document uses the terminology and notation defined in [RFC6550].

   Additionally, this document uses terminology from [RFC7102],
   specifically the terms defined for the traffic types "MP2P"
   (Multipoint-to-Point), "P2P" (Point To Point) and "P2MP" (Point-to-

3.  RPL Overview

   The basic construct in RPL is a "Destination Oriented Directed
   Acyclic Graph" (DODAG), depicted in Figure 1, with a single router
   acting as DODAG Root.  The DODAG Root has responsabilities in
   addition to those of other routers, including for initiating,
   configuring, managing the DODAG, and (in some cases) acting as a
   central relay for traffic through and between routers in the LLN.

                                 ^ ^ ^
                                /  |  \
                              (a)  |   (b)
                              ^   (c)    ^
                             /     ^     (d)
                            (f)    |    ^  ^
                                  (e)--/    \

                            Figure 1: RPL DODAG

   In an LLN, in which RPL has converged to a stable state, each router
   has identified a stable set of parents, each of which is a potential
   next-hop on a route towards the DODAG Root.  One of the parents is
   selected as preferred parent.  Each router that is part of a DODAG
   (i.e., which has selected parents and a preferred parent) will emit
   DODAG Information Object (DIO) messages, using link-local multicast,
   indicating its respective rank in the DODAG (i.e., distance to the
   DODAG Root according to some metric(s), in the simplest form hop-
   count).  Upon receiving of each DIO message, a router will calculate
   its own rank such that it is greater than the rank of each of its
   parents, select a preferred parent and then itself start emitting DIO

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   messages.  A router can joint multiple DODAGs, if it receives DIO
   messages from different DODAG root.

   DODAG formation thus starts at the DODAG Root (initially, the only
   router which is part of a DODAG), and spreads gradually to cover the
   whole LLN as DIOs are received.  Parents and preferred parents are
   thus selected, and further routers participate in the DODAG.  The
   DODAG Root also includes, in DIO messages, a DODAG Configuration
   Object, describing common configuration attributes for all routers in
   that network - including their mode of operation, timer
   characteristics etc. routers in a DODAG include a verbatim copy of
   the last received DODAG Configuration Object in their DIO messages,
   permitting also such configuration parameters propagating through the

   As a Distance Vector protocol, RPL restricts the ability of a router
   to change rank.  A router can freely assume a smaller rank than
   previously advertised (i.e., logically move closer to the DODAG Root)
   if it discovers a parent advertising a lower rank.  RPL must then
   disregard all previous parents of ranks higher than the router's new
   rank.  The ability of a router to assume a greater rank (i.e.,
   logically move farther from the DODAG Root) than previously
   advertised is restricted in order to avoid count-to-infinity
   problems.  The DODAG Root can trigger "global recalculation" of the
   DODAG by increasing a sequence number, DODAG version, in DIO

   The DODAG so constructed is used for installing routes: the
   "preferred parent" of a router can serve as a default route towards
   the DODAG Root, and the DODAG Root can embed in its DIO messages the
   destination prefixes, included by DIOs generated by routers through
   the LLN, to which connectivity is provided by the DODAG Root.  Thus,
   RPL by way of DIO generation provides "upward routes" or "multipoint-
   to-point routes" from the sensors inside the LLN and towards the
   DODAG Root (and, possibly, to destinations reachable through the
   DODAG Root).

   "Downward routes" are enabled by having sensors issue Destination
   Advertisement Object (DAO) messages, propagating as unicast via
   preferred parents towards the DODAG Root.  These describe which
   prefixes belong to, and can be reached via, which router.  In a
   network, all routers must operate in either of storing mode or non-
   storing mode, specified by way of a "Mode of Operation" (MOP) flag in
   the DODAG Configuration Object from the DODAG Root.  Those two modes
   are non-interoperable, i.e., a mixture of routers running in
   different modes is impossible in the same routing domain.  Depending
   on the MOP, DAO messages are forwarded differently towards the DODAG

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   o  In "non-storing mode", a router originates DAO messages,
      advertising one or more of its parents, unicasting these to the
      DODAG Root.  Once the DODAG Root has received DAOs from each
      router along a path to another given router, it can use source
      routing to reach advertised destinations within the LLN.

   o  In "storing mode", each router on the route between the originator
      of a DAO and the DODAG Root records a route to the prefixes
      advertised in the DAO, by indicating the next-hop towards these
      (the router, from which the DAO was received), then forwards the
      DAO to its preferred parent.

   "Point-to-point routes" are used to communicate between non-root
   nodes in the DODAG.  It is by default supported by having the source
   sensor transmit a data packet, via its default route to the DODAG
   Root (i.e., using the upward routes).  Depending on the "Mode of
   Operation" for the DODAG, RPL either add a source-route to the
   received data packet for reaching the destination sensor (downward
   routes in non-storing mode), or simply use hop-by-hop routing
   (downward routes in storing mode) for forwarding the data packet.  In
   the case of storing mode, if the source and the destination for a
   point-to-point data packet share a common ancestor other than the
   DODAG Root, a downward route may be available in a router (and, thus,
   used) before the data packet reaches the DODAG Root.

3.1.  RPL Message Emission Timing - Trickle Timers

   RPL message generation is timer-based, with the DODAG Root being able
   to configure back-off of message emission intervals using Trickle
   [RFC6206].  Trickle, as used in RPL, stipulates that a router
   transmits a DIO "every so often" - except if receiving a number of
   DIOs from neighbor routers - enabling the router to determine if its
   DIO transmission is redundant.

   When a DIO message is received, there are two possible outcomes:
   either the router that hears the message finds that the information
   contained is consistent with its own state (i.e., the received DODAG
   version number corresponds with that which the router has recorded,
   and no better rank is advertised than that which is recorded in the
   parent set) - or, the recipient router detects that either the sender
   of the DIO or itself has out-of-date information.  If the sender has
   out-of-date information, then the recipient router schedules
   transmission of a DIO to update this information.  If the recipient
   router has out-of-date information, then it updates based on the
   information received in the DIO.

   With Trickle, a router will schedule emission of a DIO at some time,
   t, in the future.  When receiving a DIO containing information

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   consistent with its own information, the router will record that
   "redundant information has been received" by incrementing a
   redundancy counter, c.  At the time t, if c is below some "redundancy
   threshold", then it transmits its DIO.  Otherwise, transmission of a
   DIO at this time is suppressed, c is reset and a new t is selected to
   twice as long time in the future - bounded by a pre-configured
   maximum value for t.  If, on the other hand, the router has received
   an out-of-date DIO from one of its neighbors, t is reset to a pre-
   configured minimum value and c is set to zero.  In both cases, at the
   expiration of t, the router will verify if c is below the "redundancy
   threshold" and if so transmit - otherwise, increase t and stay quiet.

4.  Requirement Of DODAG Root

   As indicated in Section 3, the DODAG Root has both a special
   responsibility and is subject to special requirements.  The DODAG
   Root is responsible for determining and maintaining the configuration
   parameters for the DODAG, and for initiating DIO emissions.

   The DODAG Root is also responsible (in both storing and non-storing
   mode) for being able to, when downward routes are supported, maintain
   sufficient topological information to be able to construct routes to
   all destinations in the network.

   When operating in non-storing mode, this implies that the DODAG Root
   is required to have sufficient memory and sufficient computational
   resources to be able to record a network graph containing all routes
   from itself and to all destinations and to calculate routes.

   When operating in storing mode, this implies that the DODAG Root
   needs enough memory to keep a list of all routers in the RPL
   instance, and a next hop for each of those routers.  If aggregation
   is used, the memory requirements can be reduced in storing mode (see
   Section 8 for observations about aggregation in RPL).

   The DODAG Root is also required to have sufficient energy available
   so as to be able to ensure the relay functions required.  This,
   especially for non-storing mode, where all data packets transit
   through the DODAG Root.

4.1.  Observations

   In a given deployment, selected routers can be provisioned with the
   required energy, memory and computational resources so as to serve as
   DODAG Roots, and be administratively configured as such - with the
   remainder of the routers in the network being of typically lesser
   capacity.  In storing mode, the DODAG root needs to keep a routing

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   entry for each router in the RPL instance.  In non-storing mode, the
   resource requirements on the DODAG Root are likely much higher than
   in storing mode, as the DODAG Root needs to store a network graph
   containing complete routes to all destinations in the RPL instance,
   in order to calculate the routing table (whereas in storing mode,
   only the next hop for each destination in the RPL instance needs to
   be stored.  Aggregation may be used to further reduce the resource

   A router that acts as a DODAG Root represents a single point of
   failure for the DODAG it serves.  It is possible for a given RPL
   deployment to contain several DODAGs, each rooted in a border router.
   RPL also supports that several border routers participate in the same
   DODAG - with the caveat that in this case, a "virtual" DODAG root,
   external to the LLN, exists and which coordinates DODAGVersionNumbers
   and other DODAG parameters.  The precise coordination mechanism is
   not specified in [RFC6550], which instead states that:

      The method of coordination is out of scope for this specification
      (to be defined in future companion specifications).

   As the memory requirements for the DODAG Root and for other routers
   are substantially different, unless all routers are provisioned with
   resources (memory, energy, ...) to act as DODAG Roots, effectively if
   the designated DODAG Root fails, the network fails and RPL is unable
   to operate.  Even if electing another router as temporary DODAG Root
   (e.g., for forming a "Floating" DODAG) for providing internal
   connectivity between routers, this router may not have the necessary
   resources to satisfy this role as (temporary) DODAG Root.

   Thus, although in principle RPL provides, by way of "Floating
   DODAGs", protocol mechanisms for establishing a DODAG for providing
   internal connectivity even in case of failure of the administratively
   provisioned DODAG Root, all (or at least a large number) of the
   routers need to have resources to act as roots to support floating
   DODAG, especially in non-storing mode.

   Another possible LLN scenario is that only internal point-to-point
   connectivity is sought, and no router has a more "central" role than
   any other - a self-organizing LLN.  In those cases, it would be hard
   to specify such "super-device" as DODAG root, and can result in non-
   optimal routes.

5.  RPL Data Traffic Flows

   [RFC7102] defines three data traffic types: multipoint-to-point
   traffic, point-to-multipoint traffic, and point-to-point traffic.

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   Multipoint-to-point traffic reflects telemetry flowing "from sensors
   to a sink", with point-to-multipoint traffic reflecting control
   (commands) "from a central authority to actuators".

   RPL is designed to support these three data traffic types, but in its
   doing so implicitly makes two assumptions regarding the targeted
   deployment scenarios:

   o  Telemetry "from sensors to a sink" is common, control (commands)
      "from a central authority to actuators" is rare - and while
      traffic between two sensors is supported, it is extremely rare.

   o  The "sink" and the "central authority" are co-located with, or
      reachable via, the DODAG root.

   While not specifically called out thus in [RFC6550], the resulting
   protocol design, reflects these assumptions in that the mechanism
   constructing multipoint-to-point routes is efficient in terms of
   control traffic generated and state required, point-to-multipoint
   route construction much less so - and point-to-point routes subject
   to potentially significant route stretch (routes going through the
   DODAG Root in non-storing mode) and over-the-wire overhead from using
   source routing (from the DODAG Root to the destination) (see
   Section 7) - or, in storing mode case, considerable memory
   requirements in all LLN routers inside the network (see Section 7).

   A router selects from among its parents a "preferred parent", to
   serve as a default route towards the DODAG Root (and to prefixes
   advertised by the DODAG Root).  Thus, RPL provides "upward routes" or
   "multipoint-to-point routes" from the routers below the DODAG Root
   and towards the DODAG Root.

   A router that wishes to act as a destination for data traffic
   ("downward routes" or "point-to-multipoint") issues DAOs upwards in
   the DODAG towards the DODAG Root, describing which prefixes belong
   to, and can be reached via, that router.

   Point-to-point routes are enabled by a combination of "upward routes"
   and "downward routes": the data traffic is first forwarded based on
   the "upward route" towards the DODAG root.  When there is a route to
   the destination possible (in a sensor or DODAG root eventually,
   depending on the operation mode), the data traffic is forwarded along
   the "downward route".

5.1.  Observations

   RPL is well suited for networks in which the sink for data traffic is
   co-located with, (or is outside the LLN and reachable via), the DODAG

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   root.  However, these data traffic characteristics does not represent
   a universal distribution of traffic types in LLNs.  There are
   scenarios where the sink is not co-located with (or is outside the
   LLN and reachable via) the DODAG.  These include:

   o  Command/control networks in which point-to-point traffic is a more
      common occurrence, documented, e.g., in [RFC5867] ("Building
      Automation Routing Requirements in Low Power and Lossy Networks").

   o  Networks in which all traffic is bi-directional, e.g., in case
      sensor devices in the LLN are, in majority, "actively read": a
      request is issued by the DODAG Root to a specific sensor, and the
      sensor value is expected returned.

   o  In fact, unless all traffic in the LLN is unidirectional, without
      acknowledgements (e.g., as in UDP), and no control messages (e.g.,
      for service discovery) or other data packets are sent from the
      DODAG Root to the routers, traffic will be bi-directional.  The
      IETF protocol for use in constrained environments, CoAP [RFC7252],
      makes use of acknowledgements to control packet loss and ensure
      that packets are received by the packet destination.  In the four
      message types defined for CoAP: confirmable, acknowledgement,
      reset and non-confirmable, the first three are dedicated for
      sending/acknowledgement cycle.  Another example is that the ZigBee
      Alliance SEP 2.0 specification [SEP2.0] (adopted by the IEEE)
      describes the use of HTTP over TCP over ZigBeeIP, between routers
      and the DODAG Root - and with the use of TCP inherently causing
      bidirectional traffic by way of data-packets and their
      corresponding acknowledgements.  In fact, current Internet
      protocols generally require some form of acknowledgment.
      Foregoing an acknowledgment probably means a trade-off in the area
      of reliable transmission or repeated retransmissions or both.

   o  Telemetry scenarios where the DODAG root and the sink are not co-
      located.  This can happen if different kinds of information are
      sent to different central authorities for processing: for example,
      temperature goes to Server A and humidity goes to Server B. A
      possible solution for RPL is to run several DODAGs with different
      roots, which incurs extra overhead.

   For scenarios in which point-to-point traffic is a more common
   occurrence, all point-to-point routes include the DODAG Root,
   possibly causing congestion events on the communication medium near
   the DODAG Root, and draining energy from the intermediate routers on
   an unnecessarily long route.  If sensor-to-sensor traffic is common,
   routers near the DODAG Root will be particularly solicited as relays,
   especially in non-storing mode.

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   For scenarios with bi-directional traffic, as there is no provision
   for on-demand generation of routing information from the DODAG Root
   to a proper subset of all routers, each router (besides the Root) is
   required to generate DAOs.  In particular in non-storing mode, each
   router will unicast a DAO to the DODAG Root (whereas in storing mode,
   the DAOs propagate upwards towards the Root).  The effects of the
   requirement to establish downward routes to all routers are:

   o  Increased memory and processing requirements at the DODAG Root (in
      particular in non-storing mode) and in routers near the DODAG Root
      (in storing mode).

   o  A considerable control traffic overhead [bidir], in particular at
      and near the DODAG Root.  Given the low data rate of LLNs (between
      20kbit/s and 250kbit/s for 802.15.4, between 5 kbit/s and 40
      kbit/s for G3-PLC, depending on the types of modulation), it has
      potential to congest the channels.

   o  Energy drain from the routers near the DODAG root, because they
      need to forward more traffic for other parts of the network.

6.  Fragmentation Of RPL Control Messages And Data Packet

   The link layers for LLNs generally have limited MTUs compared to
   ethernet or wireless LANs.  For example, for [ieee802154], the MTU is
   limited to 127 bytes; for [g3-plc], it is up to 252 octets, or 511
   octets, depending on the bandplan.  Those link layers are unable to
   provide an MTU of at least 1280 octets - as otherwise required for
   IPv6 [RFC8200].  In such LLNs, link fragmentation and reassembly of
   IP packets at a layer below IPv6 is used to transport larger IP
   packets, providing the required minimum 1280 octet MTU [RFC4919].

   When such link fragmentation is used, the IP packet has to be
   reassembled at every hop.  Every fragment must be received
   successfully by the receiving device, or the entire IP packet is
   lost.  Moreover, the additional link-layer frame overhead (and IPv6
   Fragment header overhead in case of IP fragmentation) for each of the
   fragments increases the capacity required from the medium.  It may
   consume more energy for transmitting a higher number of frames on the
   network interface.

   RPL is an IPv6 routing protocol, designed to operate on constrained
   link layers, such as [ieee802154], with a maximum frame size of 127
   bytes - a much smaller value than the specified minimum MTU of 1280
   bytes for IPv6 [RFC8200].  Reducing the need of fragmentation of IP
   datagrams on such a link layer, 6LoWPAN provides an adaptation layer
   [RFC4944], [RFC6282], providing link fragmentation in order to

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   accommodate IPv6 packet transmissions over the maximum IEEE 802.15.4
   frame size of 127 octets, as well as compressing the IPv6 header,
   reducing the overhead of the IPv6 header from at least 40 octets to a
   minimum of 2 octets.  Given that the IEEE 802.15.4 frame size of 127
   octets, a maximum frame overhead of 25 octets and 21 octets for link
   layer security [RFC4944], 81 octets remain for L2 payload.  Further
   subtracting 2 octets for the compressed IPv6 header leaves 79 octets
   for L3 data payload if link fragmentation is to be avoided.

   The second L in LLN indicating Lossy [roll-charter], higher loss
   rates than typically seen in IP networks are expected, rendering link
   fragmentation important to avoid.  This, in particular because, as
   mentioned above, the whole IP packet is dropped if only a single
   fragment is lost [RFC4944].

   There are other link layers that can provide efficient MTU (e.g.,
   [ieee802154g] can provide 2047-octet packets) for LLNs.  They do not
   apply to the observations of this section.

6.1.  Observations

   [RFC4919] makes the following observation regarding using IP in
   LoWPAN networks based on IEEE 802.15.4 frames:

      Applications within LoWPANs are expected to originate small
      packets.  Adding all layers for IP connectivity should still allow
      transmission in one frame, without incurring excessive
      fragmentation and reassembly.  Furthermore, protocols must be
      designed or chosen so that the individual "control/protocol
      packets" fit within a single 802.15.4 frame.  Along these lines,
      IPv6's requirement of sub-IP reassembly [...] may pose challenges
      for low-end LoWPAN devices that do not have enough RAM or storage
      for a 1280-octet packet.

   In order to avoid the link fragmentation and thus to adhere to the
   recommendation in [RFC4919], each control packet of RPL must fit into
   the remaining 79 octets of the 802.15.4 frame.  While 79 octets may
   seem to be sufficient to carry RPL control messages, consider the
   following: RPL control messages are carried in ICMPv6.  The mandatory
   ICMPv6 header consumes 4 octets.  The DIO base another 24 octets.  If
   link metrics are used, that consumes at least another 8 octets - and
   this is when using a simple hop count metric; other metrics may
   require more.  The DODAG Configuration Object consumes up to a
   further 16 octets, for a total of 52 octets.  Adding a Prefix
   Information Object for address configuration consumes another 32
   octets, for a total of 84 octets - thus exceeding the 79 octets
   available for L3 data payload and causing link fragmentation of such
   a DIO.  As a point of reference, the ContikiRPL [rpl-contiki]

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   implementation includes both the DODAG Configuration option and the
   Prefix Information option in all DIO messages.  Any other options,
   e.g., Route Information options indicating prefixes reachable through
   the DODAG Root, increase the overhead and thus the probability of

   RPL may further increase the probability of link fragmentation of
   data traffic: for non-storing mode, RPL employs source-routing for
   all downward traffic.  [RFC6554] specifies the RPL Source Routing
   header, which imposes a fixed overhead of 8 octets per IP packet
   leaving 71 octets remaining from the link-layer MTU in order to
   contain the whole IP packet into a single frame - from which must be
   deducted a variable number of octets, depending on the length of the
   route.  With fewer octets available for data payload, RPL thus
   increases the probability for link fragmentation of also data
   packets.  This, in particular, for longer routes, e.g., for point-to-
   point data traffic between sensors inside the LLN, where data traffic
   transit through the DODAG Root and is then source-routed to the
   destination.  The overhead of source routing is further detailed in
   Section 7.

   Given the minimal packet size of LLNs, the routing protocol must
   impose low (or no) overhead on data packets, hopefully independently
   of the number of hops [RFC4919].  However, source-routing not only
   causes increased overhead in the IP header, it also leads to a
   variable available payload for data (depending on how long the source
   route is).  In point-to-point communication and when non-storing mode
   is used for downward traffic, the source of a data packet will be
   unaware of how many octets will be available for payload (without
   incurring link fragmentation) when the DODAG Root relays the data
   packet and adds the source routing header.  Thus, the source may
   choose an inefficient size for the data payload: if the data payload
   is large, it may exceed the link-layer MTU at the DODAG Root after
   adding the source-routing header; on the other hand, if the data
   payload is low, the network resources are not used efficiently, which
   introduces more overhead and more frame transmissions.

   Unless the DODAG Root is the source of an IPv6 packet to be forwarded
   through an RPL LLN, the IPv6 packet must be encapsulated in IPv6-in-
   IPv6 tunneling, with the RPL extension added to the outer IPv6
   header.  Similarly, in non-storing mode, the original IPv6 packet
   must be carried in IPv6-in-IPv6 tunneling, with the RPL routing
   header added to the outer IPv6 header.  Both of these mechanisms add
   additional overhead, increasing the likelihood that link
   fragmentation will be required to deliver the IPv6 packet.  In
   addition, even IPv6 packets that are the minimum MTU size of 1280
   octets will require IPv6 fragmentation to accommodate the RPL tunnel
   and headers on a deployment using the [RFC4944] specification to

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   carry IPv6 over IEEE 802.15.4, because RFC4944 defines the MTU for
   such deployments to be 1280 octets.  The ZigBee Alliance has relaxed
   [RFC4944] to use a longer MTU for accommodating 1280 octet IPv6
   packets with the required tunnel overhead without fragmentation.  The
   "ZigBee IP Specification" (ZIP) [ZigBeeIP] specifies in section

      A ZIP node MUST ensure that the insertion of a RPL extension
      header, either directly or via IPv6-in-IPv6 tunneling, does not
      cause IPv6 fragmentation.  This is done by using a different MTU
      value for packets where the IPv6 header includes a RPL extension
      header.  The RPL tunnel entry point SHOULD be considered as a
      separate interface whose MTU is set to the 6LoWPAN interface MTU
      plus RPL_MTU_EXTENSION bytes.

   Section 7.1 of [ZigBeeIP] defines RPL_MTU_EXTENSION to be 100 bytes.

7.  The DAO Mechanism: Downward and Point-to-Point Routes

   RPL specifies two distinct and incompatible "modes of operation" for
   downward traffic: 1) storing mode: each router is assumed to maintain
   routes to all destinations in its sub-DODAG, i.e., routers that are
   "deeper down" in the DODAG, 2) non-storing mode: only the DODAG Root
   stores routes to destinations inside the LLN.  The DODAG Root employs
   strict source routing in order to route data traffic to the
   destination router.

7.1.  Observations

   In addition to possible fragmentation, as occurs when using
   potentially long source routing headers over a medium with a small
   MTU - similar to what is discussed in Section 6 - the maximum length
   of the source routing header [RFC6554] is limited to 136 octets,
   including an 8 octet long header.  As each IPv6 address has a length
   of 16 octets, not more than 8 hops from the source to the destination
   are possible for "raw IPv6".  Using address compression (e.g., as
   specified in [RFC4944]), the maximum route length may not exceed 64
   hops.  This excludes deployment of RPL for scenarios with long
   "chain-like" topologies, such as traffic lights along a street.

   In storing mode, each router has to store routes for destinations in
   its sub-DODAG.  This implies that, for routers near the DODAG Root,
   the required storage is only bounded by the number of destinations in
   the network.  As RPL targets constrained devices with little memory,
   but also has as ambition to be operating networks consisting of
   thousands of routers [roll-charter], the storing capacity on these
   routers may need to be the same as DODAG root.  At least, the storage

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   requirements in routers "near the DODAG Root" and "far from the DODAG
   Root" is not homogenous.  Some sort of administrative deployment, and
   continued administrative maintenance of devices, as the network
   evolves, is thus needed.

   In an experimental testbed, [rpl-eval-UCB] argues that practical
   experiences suggest that RPL in storing mode, with routers having
   10kB of RAM (TELOSB mote with TinyOS, 16-bit RISC, 48 kB program
   flash memory, 16 kB configuration EEPROM), should be limited to
   networks of less than ~30 routers.  Note that observation of less
   than 30 routers only presents the results obtained from specified
   testbed and implementation in [rpl-eval-UCB].  Aggregation /
   summarization of addresses may be advanced as a possible argument
   that this issue is of little significance - Section 8 discusses why
   such an argument does not apply.  Moreover, if the LoWPAN adaption
   layer [RFC4944] is used in the LLN, route aggregation is not possible
   since the same /64 is applied across the entire network.

   In short, the mechanisms in RPL force the choice between requiring
   all routers to have sufficient memory to store route entries for all
   destinations (storing mode) - or, suffer increased risk of
   fragmentation (thus loss of data packets), while consuming network
   capacity by way of source routing through the DODAG Root (non-storing

   In RPL, the "mode of operation" stipulates that either downward
   routes are not supported (MOP=0), or that they are supported by way
   of either storing or non-storing mode.  In case downward routes are
   supported, RPL does not provide any mechanism for discriminating
   between which routes should or should not be maintained.  In
   particular, in order to calculate routes to a given destination, all
   intermediaries between the DODAG Root and that destination must
   themselves be reachable - effectively rendering downward routes in
   RPL an "all-or-none" situation.  In case a destination is
   unreachable, all the DODAG Root may do is increase DTSN (Destination
   Advertisement Trigger Sequence Number) to trigger DAO message
   transmission, or eventually increase the DODAG version number in case
   the destination is still unreachable, which possibly provokes a
   broadcast-storm-like situation.  This, in particular, as [RFC6550]
   does not specify DAO message transmission constraints, nor any
   mechanism for adapting DAO emission to the network capacity.

   In storing mode, a DTSN increment by the DODAG Root works only if all
   routers, on the path from the DODAG Root to the "lost" target router,
   have kept their routing table up-to-date by triggering DAO updates,
   and thus have a route to the target router.  In non-storing mode, the
   DODAG Root incrementing its DTSN will trigger global DAO updates.  It
   will result in extra overhead in the network and delay in the

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   recalculation of the missing route.

   Furthermore, DTSN increments are carried by way of DIO messages.  In
   case the "lost" target router has lost all of its parents, it will
   not be able to receive DIO messages from them.  The router will have
   to wait until it has poisoned its sub-DODAG and joined the DODAG
   through another parent.  The only way the DODAG Root can speed up
   this process is by incrementing the DODAG version number, thus
   triggering global recalculation of the DODAG.

   Even in case the DTSN increment is carried to the "lost" target
   router through another parent, the triggered DAO will need to go up
   the DODAG to the DODAG Root via another route, which might itself be
   broken.  This would necessitate the use of local repair mechanisms,
   potentially causing loops in the network (see Section 14) and
   eventually global DODAG recalculation.

8.  Address Aggregation and Summarization

   As indicated in Section 7, in storing mode, a router is expected to
   be able to store routing entries for all destinations in its "sub-
   DODAG", i.e., routing entries for all destinations in the network
   where the route to the DODAG Root includes that router.

   In the Internet, no single router stores explicit routing entries for
   all destinations.  Rather, IP addresses are assigned hierarchically,
   such that an IP address does not only uniquely identify a network
   interface, but also its topological location in the network, as
   illustrated in Figure 2.  All addresses with the same prefix are
   reachable by way of the same router - which can, therefore, advertise
   only that prefix.  Other routers need only record a single routing
   entry for that prefix, knowing that as the IP packet reaches the
   router advertising that prefix, more precise routing information is

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                                   |   |
                                    / \
                         1.1.x.x/16/   \ 1.2.x.x/16
                                  /     \
                              .---.     .---.
                              | c |     | d |
                              '---'     '---'

                       Figure 2: Address Hierarchies

   Any aggregated routes require the use of a prefix shorter than /64,
   and subsequent hierarchical assignment of prefixes down to a /64 (as
   any router itself provides a /64 subnet to any hosts connected to the

   Moreover, if the 6lowpan adaption layer [RFC4944] is used in the LLN,
   route aggregation is not possible since the same /64 is applied
   across the entire network.

8.1.  Observations

   In RPL, each router acquires a number of parents, as described in
   Section 3, from among which it selects one as its preferred parent
   and, thus, next-hop on the route to the DODAG Root. routers maintain
   a parent set containing possibly more than a single parent so as to
   be able to rapidly select an alternative preferred parent, should the
   previously selected such become unavailable.  Thus expected behavior
   is for a router to be able to change its point of attachment towards
   the DODAG Root.  If IP addresses are assigned in a strictly
   hierarchical fashion, and if scalability of the routing state
   maintained in storing mode is based on this hierarchy, then this
   entails that each time a router changes its preferred parent, it must
   also change its own IP address - as well as cause routers in its
   "sub-DODAG" to do the same.  RPL does not specify signaling for
   reconfiguring addresses in a sub-DODAG, while [RFC6550] specifically
   allows for aggregation (e.g., in Section 18.2.6.: "[...] it is
   recommended to delay the sending of DAO message to DAO parents in
   order to maximize the chances to perform route aggregation").

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   A slightly less strict hierarchy can be envisioned, where a router
   can change its preferred parent without necessarily changing
   addresses of itself and of its sub-DODAG, provided that its former
   and new preferred parents both have the same preferred parent, and
   have addresses hierarchically assigned from that - from the
   "preferred grandparent".  With reference to Figure 1, this could be e
   changing its preferred parent from d to c, provided that both d and c
   have b as preferred parent.  Doing so would impose a restriction on
   the parent-set selection, admitting only parents which have
   themselves the same parent, losing redundancy in the network
   connectivity.  RPL does not specify rules for admitting only parents
   with identical grand-parents into the parent set - although such is
   not prohibited either, if the loss of redundancy is acceptable.

   The DODAG Root incrementing the DODAG version number is the mechanism
   by which RPL enables global reconfiguration of the network,
   reconstructing the DODAG with (intended) more optimal routes.  In
   case of addressing hierarchies being enforced, so as to enable
   aggregation, this will either restrict the ability for an optimal
   DODAG construction, or will also have to trigger global address
   autoconfiguration so as to ensure addressing hierarchies.

   Finally, with IP addresses serving a dual role of an identifier of
   both an end-point for communication and a topological location in the
   network, changing the IP address of a device, so as to reflect a
   change in network topology, also entails interrupting ongoing
   communication to or through that device.  Additional mechanisms
   (e.g., a DNS-like system) mapping "communications identifiers" and
   "IP addresses" are required.

9.  Link Bidirectionality Verification

   Parents (and the preferred parent) are selected based on receipt of
   DIOs.  This, alone, does not guarantee the ability of a router to
   successfully communicate with the parent.  However, the basic use of
   links is for "upward" routes, i.e., for the router to use a parent
   (the preferred parent) as relay towards the DODAG Root - in the
   opposite direction of the one in which the DIO was received.

9.1.  Observations

   Unidirectional links are no rare occurrence, such as is known from
   wireless multi-hop networks.  Preliminary results from a test-bed of
   AMI (Automated Metering Infrastructure) devices using 950MHz radio
   interfaces, and with a total of 22 links, show that 36% of these
   links are unidirectional.  If a router receives a DIO on such a
   unidirectional link, and selects the originator of the DIO as parent,

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   which would be a bad choice: unicast traffic in the upward direction
   would be lost.  If the router had verified the bidirectionality of
   links, it might have selected a better parent, to which it has a
   bidirectional link.

   [RFC6550] discusses some mechanisms which can (if deemed needed) be
   used to verify that a link is bidirectional before choosing a router
   as a parent.  While requiring one mechanism for bidirectional
   verification to be used, the document does not specify which method
   to be used, and how to be used.  The mechanisms discussed include NUD
   [RFC4861], BFD [RFC5881] and [RFC5184].  BFD is explicitly called out
   as "often not desirable" as it uses a proactive approach (exchange of
   periodic HELLO messages), which would "lead to excessive control
   traffic".  Furthermore, not all L2 protocols provide L2
   acknowledgements; even less so for multicast packets - and so, not on
   RPL DIOs, the multicast transmission of which is a requirement for
   the Trickle timer flooding reduction to be effective (see
   Section 3.1).  This has as consequence that such L2 acknowledgements
   can only be used to determine if a given link is bidirectional or
   unidirectional once the router already has selected parents AND
   actually has data traffic to forward by way of these parents - in
   contradiction with RPL's stated design principle that require that
   the reachability of a router be verified before choosing it as a
   parent ([RFC6550], Section 1.1).  Absent any mechanism specified by
   RPL to verify the bidirectionality of links, routers thus have to
   rely on NUD to choose their parent correctly (see Section 10).

10.  Neighbor Unreachability Detection For Unidirectional Links

   [RFC6550] suggests using Neighbor Unreachability Detection (NUD)
   [RFC4861] to detect and recover from the situation of unidirectional
   links between a router and its (preferred) parent(s).  When, e.g., a
   router tries (and fails) to actually use another router for
   forwarding traffic, NUD is supposed engaged to detect and prompt
   corrective action, e.g., by way of selecting an alternative preferred

   NUD is based upon observing whether a data packet is making forward
   progress towards the destination, either by way of indicators from
   upper-layer protocols (such as TCP and, though not called out in
   [RFC4861], also from lower-layer protocols such as Link Layer ACKs )
   or - failing that - by unicast probing by way of transmitting a
   unicast Neighbor Solicitation message and expecting that a solicited
   Neighbor Advertisement message be returned.

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10.1.  Observations

   A router may receive, transiently, a DIO from a router, closer (in
   terms of rank) to the DODAG Root than any other router from which a
   DIO has been received.  Some, especially wireless, link layers may
   exhibit different transmission characteristics between multicast and
   unicast transmissions (such is the case for some implementations of
   IEEE 802.11b, where multicast/broadcast transmissions are sent at
   much lower bit-rates than are unicast; IEEE 802.11b is, of course,
   not suggested as a viable L2 for LLNs, but serves to illustrate that
   such asymmetric designs exist), leading to a (multicast) DIO being
   received from farther away than a unicast transmission can reach.
   DIOs are sent (downward) using link-local multicast, whereas the
   traffic flowing in the opposite direction (upward) is unicast.  Thus,
   a received (multicast) DIO may not be indicative of useful unicast
   connectivity - yet, RPL might cause this router to select this
   seemingly attractive router as its preferred parent.  This may happen
   both at initialization, or at any time during the LLN lifetime as RPL
   allows attachment to a "better parent" over the network lifetime.

   A DODAG so constructed may appear stable and converged until such
   time that unicast traffic is to be sent and, thus, NUD invoked.
   Detecting only at that point that unicast connectivity is not
   maintained, and causing local (and possibly global) repairs exactly
   at that time, may lead to traffic not being deliverable.  As
   indicated in Section 8, if scalability is dependent on addresses
   being assigned hierarchically, changing point-of-attachment may
   entail more than switching preferred parent.

   A router may detect that its preferred parent is lost by way of NUD,
   when trying to communicate to the DODAG Root.  If that router has no
   other parents in its parent set, all it can do is wait: RPL does not
   provide other mechanisms for a router to react to such an event.  In
   the case where there is no downward traffic (i.e., no data or
   acknowledgements are sent from the DODAG Root), neither the DODAG
   Root nor the preferred parent, to which upward connectivity was lost,
   will be able to detect and react to the event of connectivity loss.

   In other words, for upward traffic, the routers that by way of NUD
   detect connectivity loss, will be unable to act in order to restore
   connectivity (e.g., by way of a signaling mechanism to the DODAG
   Root, to request DODAG reconstruction by way of version number
   increase).  The routers, which could react (the "preferred parents")
   will for upward traffic not generate any traffic "downward" allowing
   NUD to engage and detect connectivity loss.

   It is worth noting that RPL is optimized for upward traffic
   (multipoint-to-point traffic).  This is exactly the type of traffic

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   where NUD is not applicable as a mechanism for detecting and reacting
   to connectivity loss.

   Also, absent all routers consistently advertising their reachability
   through DAO messages, a protocol requiring bidirectional flows
   between the communicating devices, such as TCP or CoAP confirmable-
   acknowledgement exchange, will be unable to operate.

   Finally, upon having been notified by NUD that the "next hop" is
   unreachable, a router must discard the preferred parent and select
   another - hoping that this time, the preferred parent is actually
   reachable.  Also, if NUD indicates "no forward progress" based on an
   upper-layer protocol, there is no guarantee that the problem stems
   exclusively from the preferred parent being unreachable.  Indeed, it
   may be a problem further ahead, possibly outside the LLN, thus
   changing preferred parent will not alleviate the situation.
   Moreover, using information from an upper-layer protocol, e.g., to
   return TCP ACKs back to the source, requires established downward
   routes in the DODAG (i.e., each router needs to send DAO messages to
   the DODAG Root, as described in Section 7).

   Incidentally, this stems from a fundamental difference between "fixed
   links in the Internet" and "wireless links": whereas the former, as a
   rule, are reliable, predictable and with losses being rare
   exceptions, the latter are characterized by frequent losses and
   general unpredictability.

11.  RPL Implementability and Complexity

   RPL is designed to operate on "routers [...] with constraints on
   processing power, memory, and energy (battery power)" [RFC6550].
   However, the 163 pages long specification of RPL, plus additional
   specifications for routing headers [RFC6554], Trickle timer
   [RFC6206], routing metrics [RFC6551] and objective function
   [RFC6552], describes complex mechanisms (e.g., the upwards and
   downward data traffic, a security solution, manageability of routers,
   auxiliary functions for autoconfiguration of routers, etc.), and
   provides no less than 9 message types, and 10 different message

   To give one example, the ContikiRPL implementation
   (, which provides only storing mode and no
   security features, consumes about 50 KByte of memory.  Sensor
   hardware, such as MSP430 sensor platforms, does not contain much more
   memory than that, i.e., there may not be much space left to deploy
   any application on the router.

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11.1.  Observations

   Since RPL is intended as the routing protocol for LLNs, which covers
   all the diverse applications requirements listed in [RFC5867],
   [RFC5673], [RFC5826], [RFC5548], it is likely that (i) due to limited
   memory capacity of the routers, and (ii) due to expensive development
   cost of the routing protocol implementation, RPL implementations will
   only support a partial set of features from the specification,
   leading to non-interoperable implementations.

   In order to accommodate the verbose exchange format, route stretching
   and source routing for point-to-point traffic, several additional
   Internet-Drafts are being discussed for adoption in the ROLL Working
   Group - adding complexity to an already complex specification which,
   it is worth recalling, was intended to be of a protocol for low-
   capacity devices.

12.  Underspecification

   While [RFC6550] provides various options and extensions in many
   parts, which makes a complex protocol, as described in Section 11,
   some mechanisms are underspecified.

   While for DIOs, the Trickle timer specifies a relatively efficient
   and easy-to-understand timing for message transmission, the timing of
   DAO transmission is not explicit.  As each DAO may have a limited
   lifetime, one "best guess" for implementers would be to send DAO
   periodically, just before the life-time of the previous DAO expires.
   Since DAOs may be lost, another "best guess" would be to send several
   DAOs shortly one after the other in order to increase probability
   that at least one DAO is successfully received.

   The same underspecification applies for DAO-ACK messages: optionally,
   on reception of a DAO, a router may acknowledge successful reception
   by returning a DAO-ACK.  Timing of DAO-ACK messages is unspecified by

12.1.  Observations

   By not specifying details about message transmission intervals and
   required actions when receiving DAO and DAO-ACKs, implementations may
   exhibit a bad performance if not carefully implemented.  Some
   examples are:

   1.  If DAO messages are not sent in due time before the previous DAO
       expires (or if the DAO is lost during transmission), the routing
       entry will expire before it is renewed, leading to a possible

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       data traffic loss.

   2.  RPL does not specify to use jitter [RFC5148] (i.e., small random
       delay for message transmissions).  If DAOs are sent periodically,
       adjacent routers may transmit DAO messages at the same time,
       leading to link layer collisions.

   3.  In non-storing mode, the "piece-wise calculation" of routes to a
       destination from which a DAO has been received, relies on
       previous reception of DAOs from intermediate routers along the
       route.  If not all of these DAOs from intermediate routers have
       been received, route calculation is not possible, and DAO-ACKs or
       data traffic cannot be sent to that destination.

   Other examples of underspecification include detection of
   connectivity loss, as described in Section 10, as well as the local
   repair mechanism, which may lead to loops and thus data traffic loss,
   if not carefully implemented: a router discovering that all its
   parents are unreachable, may - according to the RPL specification -
   "detach" from the DODAG, i.e., increase its own rank to infinity.  It
   may then "poison" its sub-DODAG by advertising its infinite rank in
   its DIOs.  If, however, the router receives a DIO before it transmits
   the "poisoned" DIO, it may attach to its own sub-DODAG, creating a
   loop.  If, instead, it had waited some time before processing DIOs
   again, chances are it would have succeeded in poisoning its sub-DODAG
   and thus avoided the loop.

13.  Protocol Convergence

   Trickle [RFC6206] is used by RPL to schedule transmission of DIO
   messages, with the objective of minimizing the amount of transmitted
   DIOs while ensuring a low convergence time of the network.  The
   theoretical behavior of Trickle is well understood, and the
   convergence properties are well studied.  Simulations of the
   mechanism, such as documented [trickle-multicast], confirm these
   theoretical studies.

   In real-world environments, however, varying link qualities may cause
   the algorithm to converge less well: frequent message losses entail
   resets of the Trickle timer and more frequent and unpredicted message

13.1.  Observations

   The varying link quality in real-world environments results in
   frequent changes of the best parent, which triggers a reset of the
   Trickle timer and thus the emission of DIOs.  Therefore Trickle does

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   not converge as well for links that are fluctuating in quality as in

   This has been observed, e.g., in an experimental testbed: 69 routers
   (MSP430-based wireless sensor routers with IEEE 802.15.4, using
   [rpl-contiki] IPv6 stack and RPL without downward routes; the
   parameters of the Trickle timer were set to the implementation
   defaults (minimum DIO interval: 4 s, DIO interval doublings: 8,
   redundancy constant: 10) were positioned in a fixed grid topology.
   This resulted in DODAGs being constructed with an average of 2.45
   children per router and an average rank of 3.58.

   In this small test network, the number of DIO messages emitted -
   expectedly - spiked within the first ~10 seconds.  Alas, rather than
   taper off to become zero (as the simulation studies would suggest),
   the DIO emission rate remained constant at about 70 DIOs per second.
   Details on this experiment can be found in [rpl-eval].

   In another experimental testbed with 17 routers (Tmote Sky, Contiki
   platform [powertrace]), the authors also showed that the DIO emission
   continues with constant rate.  Even with a relatively high data rate
   for sensor networks (every router sends 1 packet to the root per
   minute), the energy used for routing control packets is higher than
   the data traffic transmission.

   The resulting higher control overhead due to frequent DIO emission,
   leads to higher bandwidth and energy consumption as well as possibly
   to an increased number of collisions of frames, as observed in

13.2.  Caveat

   Note that these observations do not claim that it is impossible to
   parametrize Trickle timers so that a given deployment exhibits the
   theoretical characteristics (or, characetristics sufficiently close
   thereto) of the Trickle mechanism.  These observations suggest that
   the default parameter values, provided for Trickle timers in
   [RFC6550], did not apply to the small network tested.  These
   observations also suggest that special care is required when
   selecting the values for the parameters for Trickle timers.  These
   values likely are to be determined experimentally, and individually
   for each deployment.

14.  Loops

   [RFC6550] states that it "guarantees neither loop free route
   selection nor tight delay convergence times, but can detect and

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   repair a loop as soon as it is used.  RPL uses this loop detection to
   ensure that packets make forward progress [...] and trigger repairs
   when necessary".  This implies that a loop may only then be detected
   and fixed when data traffic is sent through the network.

   In order to trigger a local repair, RPL relies on the "direction"
   information (with values "up" or "down"), contained in an IPv6 hop-
   by-hop option header from received a data packet.  If an "upward"
   data packet is received by a router, but the previous hop of the
   packet is listed with a lower rank in the neighbor set, the router
   concludes that there must be a routing loop and it may therefore
   trigger a local repair.  For downward traffic in non-storing mode,
   the DODAG Root can detect loops if the same router identifier (i.e.,
   IP address) appears at least twice in the route towards a

14.1.  Observations

   The reason for RPL to repair loops only when detected by a data
   traffic transmission is to reduce control traffic overhead.  However,
   there are two problems in repairing loops only when so triggered: (i)
   the triggered local repair mechanism delays forward progress of data
   packets, increasing end-to-end delays, and (ii) the data packet has
   to be buffered during repair.

   (i) may seem as the lesser of the two problems, since in a number of
   applications, such as data acquisition in smart metering
   applications, an increased delay may be acceptable.  However, for
   applications such as alarm signals or in home automation (e.g., a
   light switch), increased delay may be undesirable.

   As for (ii), RPL is supposed to run on LLN routers with "constraints
   on [...] memory" [RFC6550]; buffering incoming packets during the
   route repair may not be possible for all incoming data packets,
   leading to dropped packets.  Depending on the transport protocol,
   these data packets must be retransmitted by the source or are
   definitely lost.

   If carefully implemented with respect to avoiding loops before they
   occur, the impact of the loop detection in RPL may be minimized.
   However, it can be observed that with current implementations of RPL,
   such as the ContikiRPL implementation, loops do occur - and,
   frequently.  During the same experiments described in Section 13, a
   snapshot of the DODAG was made every ten seconds.  In 74.14% of the
   4114 snapshots, at least one loop was observed.  Further
   investigation revealed that in all these cases the DODAG was
   partitioned.  The loop occurred in the sub-DODAG that no longer had a
   connection to the DODAG Root.  When the link to the only parent of a

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   router breaks, the router may increase its rank and - when receiving
   a DIO from a router in its sub-DODAG - attach itself to its own sub-
   DODAG, thereby creating a loop - as detailed in Section 12.1.

   While it can be argued that the observed loops are harmless since
   they occur in a DODAG partition that has no connection to the DODAG
   Root, they show that the routes are not built correctly.  Even worse,
   when the broken link re-appears, it is possible that in certain
   situations, the loop is only repaired when data traffic is sent,
   possibly leading to data loss (as described above).  This can occur
   if the link to the previous parent is reestablished, but the rank of
   that previous parent has increased in the meantime.

   Another problem with the loop repair mechanism arises in non-storing
   mode when using only downward traffic: while the DODAG Root can
   easily detect loops (as described above), it has no direct means to
   trigger a local repair where the loop occurs.  Indeed, it can only
   trigger a global repair by increasing the DODAG version number,
   leading to a Trickle timer reset and increased control traffic
   overhead in the network caused by DIO messages, and therefore a
   possible energy drain of the routers and congestion of the channel.

   Finally, loop detection for every data packet increases the
   processing overhead.  RPL is targeted for deployments on very
   constrained devices with little CPU power, therefore a loop detection
   for every packet reduces available resources of the LLN router for
   other tasks (such as sensing).  Moreover, each IPv6 packet needs to
   contain the "RPL Option for Carrying RPL Information in Data-Plane
   Datagrams" [RFC6553] in order to use loop detection (as well as
   determining the RPL instance), which in turn implies an extra IPv6
   header (and thus overhead) for IPv6-in-IPv6 tunneling.  As this RPL
   option is a hop-by-hop option, it needs to be in an encapsulating
   IPv6-in-IPv6 tunnel and then regenerated at each hop.

15.  Security Considerations

   This document does currently not specify any security considerations.
   This document also does not provide any evaluation of the security
   mechanisms of RPL.

16.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no actions for IANA.

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17.  Acknowledgements

   The authors would like to thank Matthias Philipp (INRIA) for his
   contributions to conducting many of the experiments, revealing or
   confirming the issues described in this document.

   Moreover, the authors would like to express their gratitude to Ralph
   Droms (Cisco) for his careful review of various versions of this
   document, for many long discussions, and for his considerable
   contributions to both the content and the quality of this document.

18.  Informative References

   [RFC4861]  Narten, T., Nordmark, E., Simpson, W., and H. Soliman,
              "Neighbor Discovery for IP version 6 (IPv6)", RFC 4861,
              September 2007.

   [RFC4919]  Kushalnagar, N., Montenegro, G., and C. Schumacher, "IPv6
              over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPANs):
              Overview, Assumptions, Problem Statement, and Goals",
              RFC 4919, August 2007.

   [RFC4944]  Montenegro, G., Kushalnagar, N., Hui, J., and D. Culler,
              "Transmission of IPv6 Packets over IEEE 802.15.4
              Networks", RFC 4944, September 2007.

   [RFC5148]  Clausen, T., Dearlove, C., and B. Adamson, "Jitter
              Considerations in Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs)",
              RFC 5148, February 2008.

   [RFC5184]  Aggarwal, R., Kompella, K., Nadeau, T., and G. Swallow,
              "Bidirectional Forwarding Detection (BFD) for IPv4 and
              IPv6 (Single Hop)", RFC 5184, June 2010.

   [RFC5548]  Dohler, M., Watteyne, T., Winter, T., and D. Barthel,
              "Routing Requirements for Urban Low-Power and Lossy
              Networks", RFC 5548, May 2009.

   [RFC5673]  Pister, K., Thubert, P., Dwars, S., and T. Phinney,
              "Industrial Routing Requirements in Low-Power and Lossy
              Networks", RFC 5673, October 2009.

   [RFC5826]  Brandt, A., Buron, J., and G. Porcu, "Home Automation
              Routing Requirements in Low-Power and Lossy Networks",
              RFC 5826, April 2010.

   [RFC5867]  Martocci, J., Mi, P., Riou, N., and W. Vermeylen,

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              "Building Automation Routing Requirements in Low Power and
              Lossy Networks", RFC 5867, June 2010.

   [RFC5881]  Ward, D. and D. Katz, "Bidirectional Forwarding Detection
              (BFD) for IPv4 and IPv6 (Single Hop)", RFC 5881,
              June 2010.

   [RFC6206]  Levis, P., Clausen, T., Hui, J., Gnawali, O., and J. Ko,
              "The Trickle Algorithm", RFC 6206, March 2011.

   [RFC6282]  Hui, J. and P. Thubert, "Compression Format for IPv6
              Datagrams over IEEE 802.15.4-Based Networks", RFC 6282,
              September 2011.

   [RFC6550]  Winther, T., Thubert, P., Hui, J., Vasseur, J., Brandt,
              A., Kelsey, R., Levis, P., Piester, K., Struik, R., and R.
              Alexander, "RPL: IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-Power and
              Lossy Networks", RFC 6550, March 2012.

   [RFC6551]  Vasseur, J., Pister, K., Dejan, N., and D. Barthel,
              "Routing Metrics Used for Path Calculation in Low-Power
              and Lossy Networks", RFC 6551, March 2012.

   [RFC6552]  Thubert, P., "Objective Function Zero for the Routing
              Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL)",
              RFC 6552, March 2012.

   [RFC6553]  Hui, J. and J. Vasseur, "The Routing Protocol for Low-
              Power and Lossy Networks (RPL) Option for Carrying RPL
              Information in Data-Plane Datagrams", RFC 6553,
              March 2012.

   [RFC6554]  Hui, J., Vasseur, J., Culler, D., and V. Manral, "An IPv6
              Routing Header for Source Routes with the Routing Protocol
              for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL)", RFC 6554,
              March 2012.

   [RFC7102]  Vasseur, JP., "Terms Used in Routing for Low-Power and
              Lossy Networks", RFC 7102, January 2014.

   [RFC7252]  Shelby, Z., Hartke, K., and C. Bormann, "The Constrained
              Application Protocol (CoAP)", RFC 7252, June 2014.

   [RFC8200]  Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6
              (IPv6) Specification", STD 86, RFC 8200, DOI 10.17487/
              RFC8200, July 2017,

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   [SEP2.0]   Computer Society, IEEE., "P2030.5 IEEE Draft Standard for
              Smart Energy Profile 2.0 Application Protocol", 2014.

              Alliance, ZigBee., "ZigBee IP Specification",
              ZigBee Public Document 13-002r00, February 2013.

   [bidir]    Clausen, T. and U. Herberg, "A Comparative Performance
              Study of the Routing Protocols LOAD and RPL with Bi-
              Directional Traffic in Low-power and Lossy Networks
              (LLN)", Proceedings of the Eighth ACM International
              Symposium on Performance Evaluation of Wireless Ad Hoc,
              Sensor, and Ubiquitous Networks (PE-WASUN), 2011.

              G.9903 Narrowband orthogonal frequency division
              multiplexing power line communication transceivers for G3-
              PLC networks", Feburary 2014.

              Computer Society, IEEE., "IEEE Standard for Information
              technology -  Telecommunications and information exchange
              between systems -- Local and metropolitan area networks --
              Specific requirements. Part 15.4: Wireless Medium Access
              Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications for
              Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs)",
              October 2003.

              Computer Society, IEEE., "IEEE Standard for Local and
              metropolitan area networks -- Part 15.4: Low-Rate Wireless
              Personal Area Networks (LR-WPANs) Amendment 3: Physical
              Layer (PHY) Specifications for LowData-Rate, Wireless,
              Smart Metering Utility Networks", April 2012.

              Dunkels, A., Eriksson, J., Finne, N., and N. Tsiftes,
              "Powertrace: Network-level Power Profiling for Low-power
              Wireless Networks", Technical Report SICS T2011:05.

              "ROLL Charter",
              roll/03/, February 2012.

              Tsiftes, N., Eriksson, J., and A. Dunkels, "Low-Power
              Wireless IPv6 Routing with ContikiRPL",

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              Proceedings Proceedings of the 9th ACM/IEEE International
              Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks
              (ISPN), 2011.

              Clausen, T., Herberg, U., and M. Philipp, "A Critical
              Evaluation of the IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low Power and
              Lossy Networks (RPL)", Proceedings of the 5th IEEE
              International Conference on Wireless & Mobile Computing,
              Networking & Communication (WiMob), 2011.

              Ko, J., Dawson-Haggerty, S., Culler, D., and A. Terzis,
              "Evaluating the Performance of RPL and 6LoWPAN in TinyOS",
              Proceedings of the Workshop on Extending the Internet to
              Low power and Lossy Networks (IP+SN), 2011.

              Clausen, T. and U. Herberg, "Study of Multipoint-to-Point
              and Broadcast Traffic Performance in the 'IPv6 Routing
              Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks' (RPL)",
              Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing,

Authors' Addresses

   Thomas Clausen
   Route de Saclay
   91128 Palaiseau Cedex,

   Phone: +33 6 6058 9349

   Axel Colin de Verdiere

   Phone: +33 6 1264 7119

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   Jiazi Yi
   Ecole Polytechnique
   Route de Saclay
   91128 Palaiseau Cedex,

   Phone: +33 1 6933 4084

   Ulrich Herberg


   Yuichi Igarashi
   Hitachi, Ltd., Yokohama Research Laboratory

   Phone: +81 45 860 3083

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