Under the current system of spectrum allocation, rigid partitioning has resulted in vastly underutilized spectrum bands, even in urban locales. Cognitive radios have been proposed as a way to reuse this underutilized spectrum in an opportunistic manner. To achieve this reuse while guaranteeing non-…
Under the current system of spectrum allocation, rigid partitioning has resulted in vastly underutilized spectrum bands, even in urban locales. Cognitive radios have been proposed as a way to reuse this underutilized spectrum in an opportunistic manner. To achieve this reuse while guaranteeing non-interference with the primary user, cognitive radios must detect very weak primary signals. However, uncertainties in the noise+interference impose a limit on how low of a primary signal can be robustly detected.
In this paper, we show that the presence/absence of possible interference from other opportunistic spectrum users represents a major component of the uncertainty limiting the ability of a cognitive radio network to reclaim a band for its use. Coordination among nearby cognitive radios is required to control this uncertainty. While this coordination can take a form similar to a traditional MAC protocol for data communication, its role is different in that it aims to reduce the uncertainty about interference rather than just reducing the interference itself.
We show how the degree of coordination required can vary based on the coherence times and bandwidths involved, as well as the complexity of the detectors themselves. The simplest sensing strategies end up needing the most coordination, while more complex strategies involving adaptive coherent processing and interference prediction can be individually more robust and thereby reduce the need for coordination across different networks. We also show the existence of a coordination radius wall which limits secondary user densities that can be supported irrespective of coordination involved. Furthermore, local cooperation among cognitive radios for collective decision making can reduce the fading margins we need to budget for. This cooperation benefits from increased secondary user densities and hence induces a minima in the power-coordination tradeoff.