Cognitive Radio Networks

Overview

Today's wireless networks are characterized by a fixed spectrum assignment policy. However, a large portion of the assigned spectrum is used sporadically and geographical variations in the utilization of assigned spectrum ranges from 15% to 85% with a high variance in time. The limited available spectrum and the inefficiency in the spectrum usage necessitate a new communication paradigm to exploit the existing wireless spectrum opportunistically. This new networking paradigm is referred to as NeXt Generation (xG) networks as well as Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) and cognitive radio (CR) networks. Figure 1 shows a general architecture of CR networks.

Figure 1. Cognitive radio network architecture.

The key enabling technology of dynamic spectrum access networks is the cognitive radio. Cognitive radio techniques provide the capability to use or share the spectrum in an opportunistic manner. Dynamic spectrum access techniques allow the cognitive radio to operate in the best available channel. More specifically, the cognitive radio technology will enable the users to (1) determine which portions of the spectrum is available and detect the presence of licensed users when a user operates in a licensed band (spectrum sensing), (2) select the best available channel (spectrum decision), (3) coordinate access to this channel with other users (spectrum sharing), and (4) vacate the channel when a licensed user is detected (spectrum mobility).

Once a cognitive radio supports the capability to select the best available channel, the next challenge is to make the network protocols adaptive to the available spectrum.

These functionalities of CR networks enable spectrum-aware communication protocols. However, the dynamic use of the spectrum causes adverse effects on the performance of conventional communication protocols, which were developed considering a fixed frequency band for communication. So far, networking in CR networks is an unexplored topic.

This project is in collaboration with Prof. Geoffrey Ye Li at Georgia Tech and is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0721580.

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