Solving hidden terminal problem in MU-MIMO WLANs with fairness and throughput-aware precoding and a degrees-of-freedom-based MAC design

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Journal Article
Eurasip Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking, 2016, 2016 (1)
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© 2016, Shrestha et al. We generally emphasize that the zeroforcing (ZF) technique backed by an appropriate medium access control (MAC) protocol can be used to address the inevitable hidden terminal (HT) problem in multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) wireless local area network (WLAN) settings. However, to address the implementation-specific requirements of MU-MIMO WLANs, such as fairness in client access and throughput of the network, we propose a fairness and a throughput-aware ZF precoding in our design at the physical layer (PHY). This precoding scheme not only solves the HT problem but also meets the fairness and the throughput requirements of MU-MIMO WLANs. Besides, we design a MAC layer protocol, supportive to PHY, which decides transmission opportunities (TXOPs) among access points (APs) based on the available degrees of freedom (DoF). We make a mandatory provision in our design that APs should have a sufficient DoF. This can ensure collision-free transmission whenever APs/transmitters transmit in the HT scenario. Additionally, we design an improved channel sounding process for MU-MIMO WLANs with a less signaling overhead than IEEE802.11ac. We demonstrate the feasibility of our PHY in a USRP2/GNU Radio testbed prototype in the lab settings. It is found that our PHY improves the SNR and effective SNR of the received signal from about 5 to 11 dB in the HT scenario. The performance of our MAC design is checked with simulation studies in a typical six-antenna AP and clients scenario. We observe that our MAC protocol has a slightly higher signaling overhead than traditional ready to send/clear to send (RTS/CTS) due to design constraints; however, the signaling time overheads are reduced by 98.67 μs compared to IEEE802.11ac. Another interesting aspect to highlight is the constant Throughput gain of four to five times that of the traditional RTS/CTS. Our MAC protocol obtains this gain as early as 98.67 μs compared to IEEE802.11ac.
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