Software Radio-Based Decentralized Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks: A Prototype Design and Enabling Technologies

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Virginia Tech


Dynamic spectrum access (DSA) wireless networks focus on using RF spectrum more efficiently and dynamically. Significant progress has been made during the past few years. For example, many measurements of current spectrum utilization are available. Theoretical analyses and computational simulations of DSA networks also abound. In sharp contrast, few network systems, particularly those with a decentralized structure, have been built even at a small scale to investigate the performance, behavior, and dynamics of DSA networks under different scenarios. This dissertation provides the theory, design, and implementation of a software radio-based decentralized DSA network prototype, and its enabling technologies: software radio, signal detection and classification, and distributed cooperative spectrum sensing.

By moving physical layer functions into the software domain, software radio offers an unprecedented level of flexibility in radio development and operation, which can facilitate research and development of cognitive radio (CR) and DSA networks. However, state-of-the-art software radio systems still have serious performance limitations. Therefore, a performance study of software radio is needed before applying it in any development. This dissertation investigates three practical issues governing software radio performance that are critical in DSA network development: RF front end nonlinearity, dynamic computing resource allocation, and execution latency. It provides detailed explanations and quantitative results on SDR performance.

Signal detection is the most popular method used in DSA networks to guarantee non-interference to primary users. Quickly and accurately detecting signals under all possible conditions is challenging. The cyclostationary feature detection method is attractive for detecting primary users because of its ability to distinguish between modulated signals, interference, and noise at a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). However, a key issue of cyclostationary signal analysis is the high computational cost. To tackle this challenge, parallel computing is applied to develop a cyclostationary feature based signal detection method. This dissertation presents the method's performance on multiple signal types in noisy and multi-path fading environments.

Distributed cooperative spectrum sensing is widely endorsed to monitor the radio environment so as to guarantee non-interference to incumbent users even at a low SNR and under hostile conditions like shadowing, fading, interference, and multi-path. However, such networks impose strict performance requirements on data latency and reliability. Delayed or faulty data may cause secondary users to interfere with incumbent users because secondary users could not be informed quickly or reliably. To support such network performance, this dissertation presents a set of data process and management schemes in both sensors and data fusion nodes. Further, a distributed cooperative sensor network is built from multiple sensors; together, the network compiles a coherent semantic radio environment map for DSA networks to exploit available frequencies opportunistically.

Finally, this dissertation presents the complete design of a decentralized and asynchronous DSA network across the PHY layer, MAC layer, network layer, and application layer. A ten-node prototype is built based on software radio technologies, signal detection and classification methods, distributed cooperative spectrum sensing systems, dynamic wireless protocols, and a multi-channel allocation algorithm. Systematic experiments are carried out to identify several performance determining factors for decentralized DSA networks.



software radio, dynamic spectrum access, signal detection and classification, distributed cooperative spectrum sensing, wireless communications, Cognitive radio networks