SourceSync: A Distributed Wireless Architecture for Exploiting Sender Diversity

By: 
Hariharan Rahul, Haitham Hassanieh, and Dina Katabi
Appears in: 
CCR October 2010

Diversity is an intrinsic property of wireless networks. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of many distributed protocols like ExOR, MORE, SOAR, SOFT, and MIXIT that exploit receiver diversity in 802.11-like networks. In contrast, the dual of receiver diversity, sender diversity, has remained largely elusive to such networks.

This paper presents SourceSync, a distributed architecture for harnessing sender diversity. SourceSync enables concurrent senders to synchronize their transmissions to symbol boundaries, and cooperate to forward packets at higher data rates than they could have achieved by transmitting separately. The paper shows that SourceSync improves the performance of opportunistic routing protocols. Specifically, SourceSync allows all nodes that overhear a packet in a wireless mesh to simultaneously transmit it to their nexthops, in contrast to existing opportunistic routing protocols that are forced to pick a single forwarder from among the overhearing nodes. Such simultaneous transmission reduces bit errors and improves throughput. The paper also shows that SourceSync increases the throughput of 802.11 last hop diversity protocols by allowing multiple APs to transmit simultaneously to a client, thereby harnessing sender diversity. We have implemented SourceSync on the FPGA of an 802.11-like radio platform. We have also evaluated our system in an indoor wireless testbed, empirically showing its benefits.