Network Simulators for Research (R & D)

Across the globe, there are so many researchers trying to get a best solution for various research problems. If you are indulging in networks (TCP/IP, UDP, Peer to Peer, FTP, CBR, packets, agents, etc) or wireless networks (Adhoc, MANETs,  Sensor Networks, Mesh Networks, Satellite Networks, Cellular Networks, etc) and any other type of network, then here are the list of simulators that are available for finding a solution for a research problem (without investing much on the hardware)

1. Network Simulator 2 (NS2)

Link :

Ns is a discrete event simulator targeting for networking research. This simulator provides support for simulation of Wired networks like TCP, routing, and multicast protocols over wired and wireless  networks. In short it is called as NS2.

Languages Used: Tcl, OTcl, C++, Simple AWK Script to analyze the results (freely available in the web)


  • Simulate almost any type of networks which are in great demand by the industry/Academia

  • It runs on various platforms like Linux, Solaris, Windows (using cygwin), MacOS and FreeBSD

  • It is free of cost

  • Results can also be validate for some type of networking parameters

  • Large number of forums are available for help

  • Proper documentation is available


  • One has to learn a scripting language TCL/TK, OTcl

  • Should be strong enough in C++ (if protocol design, creating a new packet structure, etc)

To know more about NS2, visit

Installation of Network Simulator 2 in Fedora 12, Audio by Pradeepkumar

2. GloMoSim


GloMoSim is just Global Mobile Simulator, which says that it is targeting mainly for wireless networks, but the wired and hybrid network capability will be added soon. This is developed based on the PARSEC Compiler. Glomosim Supports various layers like Mobility, Radio Propagation, Radio Model, Packet reception models, Data Link, Network (Routing), Transport, Application.

The software can be obtained based on the request, it is free only for Academic Research. For others, QualNet has to be purchased.

Languages Used: Basic knowledge on Parsec, C programming


  • It is free for academic research

  • It supports almost all the OSI layers with limited benefits


  • Parsec support for Redhat 7.2 which is outdated

  • The team is targeting mainly on QualNet which is the commercial Version GloMoSim

3. OpNet


Opnet is a graduate project of Alain Cohen while he was at MIT. Now the entire product is commercialized. This tool performs the performance comparison of for computer networks and applications. This tool addresses application performance management, network performance management and Research & Development in Network


  • used to enhance existing protocols

  • to develop proprietary protocol

  • test and demonstrate technology designs


  • Cost of the product is high


4. Omnet++


Omnet++ is a discrete event simulator that concentrates on wired and wireless networks. Languages used are Java, C++, SystemC.


  • It is free for academics

  • useful for wired and wireless networks

  • Recently a new horizon, a parallel simulation extension of Omnet++ for multicore/multiprocessor is developed and released.

  • So many frameworks free to download

  • Best documentation


  • some of the frameworks are version compatible (if a framework developed for 3.3 version, it may not work under version 4.0)


5. NS3


This is also a discrete event simulator that concentrates on network research. It is written in C++ and Python. So a basic knowledge of python is needed to learn this tool. It supports Linux, Windows (cygwin) and also under visual studio 2010.


  • Proper documentation is available

  • it is free

  • support for wired and wireless networks


  • to learn a new scripting python

  • online forums are there much


6. QualNet


QualNet Developer is a network evaluation software that analyze the performance of wired, wireless and hybrid network. QualNet supports thousands of nodes for simulation and also supports for 64 bit Operating system.

It works on Unix, Linux, MacOS and even can be deployed in live networks.

This tool is an extension of GloMoSim which is being commercialized. They have separate licenses for Academics and others. Refer the link above for pricing and support.

7. NetSim


NetSim is a comprehensive tool for studying computer networks. NetSim features state of the art network simulation technology, and comes with additional offerings that enhance and quicken students’ learning, and prepare them better for their career.

  • Model networks with various technologies, protocols, devices and traffic types.

  • Study Performance metrics at network, link by link and packet levels

  • Analyze and graph, inter and intra protocol performance by varying modeling attributes

  • Learn from detailed simulation lab experiments

C/C++ is supported. Only a demo version is available for download, contact the above link for pricing and support for academic or standard



This simulator is mainly for sensor networks. TOSSIM is an extension for TinyOS Mote SIMulator.

  • It is free of cost

  • It scales thousands of nodes

  • one can test the algorithm as well as implementation (validation can also be done)

  • It includes physical layer design to application layer design

  • users can connect to TOSSIM, as if it was connected to a real device and measure the performance

  • it also has a GUI called TinyViz which can be visualized for running simulations of sensor networks.



  1. Thank you for those links.

    I found NetSim to be cost effective for basic simulation and coverage of wireless, mobile and cellular protocols.

    - Jane

  2. it was usefull.. Thank you

  3. Qualnet is no longer available in this site. The company is only focused on defense simulations


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