ZigZag Decoding: Combating Hidden Terminals in Wireless Networks

By: 
Shyamnath Gollakota and Dina Katabi
Appears in: 
CCR October 2008

This paper presents ZigZag, an 802.11 receiver design that combats hidden terminals. ZigZag’s core contribution is a new form of interference cancellation that exploits asynchrony across successive collisions. Specifically, 802.11 retransmissions, in the case of hidden terminals, cause successive collisions. These collisions have different interference-free stretches at their start, which ZigZag exploits to bootstrap its decoding.

ZigZag makes no changes to the 802.11 MAC and introduces no overhead when there are no collisions. But, when senders collide, ZigZag attains the same throughput as if the colliding packets were a priori scheduled in separate time slots. We build a prototype of ZigZag in GNU Radio. In a testbed of 14 USRP nodes, ZigZag reduces the average packet loss rate at hidden terminals from 72.6% to about 0.7%.