Unlicensed Wide-Area Wireless Networking

Many wireless bands are heavily underused and regulators around the world are coming up with policies that will allow more efficient spectrum use. One such initiative is opening up more spectrum for unlicensed communication, with a particular example of TV white spaces (TVWS). TVWS are frequencies that have been used, until the recent digital switchover, by analogue TV broadcasters. These frequencies are now available and large parts have been released (e.g. in US) for unlicensed spectrum access. TVWS are prime frequencies because they are low in spectrum and signals propagate far (unlike in ISM bands), but many other underutilized frequency could potentially be reallocated in a similar fashion.

Unlicensed and decentralized access has proven to be very successful and WiFi connections currently carry most of the world’s wireless data traffic. Thus unlicensed and decentralized wide-area wireless networking (WWAN) presents a unique opportunity that could potentially provide ubiquitous and cheap Internet access for everyone. However, there are several design challenges to make a unlicensed WWAN work. Excellent signal propagation is both a bless and a curse. Since low carrier frequency signals propagate far, they will cause interference to a number of other nodes. The same issue in WiFi networking is much less pronounced because the signal propagation shorter. Dealing with the interference in an uncoordinated way on large scales is a major challenge. Another challenge is that the available spectrum is fragmented. For example, TVWS devices are secondary citizens and can use only chunks of spectrum that are not used by primary, registered users. These chunks are all around, a quality of each chunk is different at different times and for different users. It is not clear how to distribute available chunks to contending White-space nodes in an efficient and fair way.

The above mentioned problems are just illustrations of challenges lying ahead on the road towards ubiquitous wide-area wireless networking on unlicensed frequencies. The goal of this project is to deal with them and come up with technological solutions that would overcome the challenges.

Press coverage

Microsoft Reinvents Wi-Fi for White Spaces, MIT Technology Review

Tools for prototyping  of SDR

Ziria – Wireless Programming for Hardware Dummies

Related publications

  • Souvik Sen, Bozidar Radunovic, Jeongkeun Lee, and Kyu-Han Kim, CSpy: Finding the Best Quality Channel without Probing, in Mobicom, ACM MOBICOM, September 2013.
  • Bozidar Radunovic, Ranveer Chandra, and Dinan Gunawardena, Weeble: Enabling Low-Power Nodes to Coexist with High-Power Nodes in White Space Networks, in ACM CoNEXT, ACM, December 2012.
  • Krishna Chintalapudi, Bozidar Radunovic, Vlad Balan, Michael Buettener, Srinivas Yerramalli, Vishnu Navda, and Ramachandran Ramjee, WiFi-NC : WiFi Over Narrow Channels, in NSDI, NSDI, 27 April 2012.
  • Bozidar Radunovic, Alexandre Proutiere, Dinan Gunawardena, and Peter Key, Dynamic Channel, Rate Selection and Scheduling for White Spaces, in ACM CoNEXT, ACM, December 2011.
  • Eugenio Magsiretti, krishna kant chintalapudi, Bozidar Radunovic, and Ramachandran Ramjee, WiFi-Nano : Reclaiming WiFi Efficiency through 800 ns slots, in Mobicom, September 2011.
  • Nikhil Singh, Dinan Gunawardena, Alexandre Proutiere, Bozidar Radunovic, Horia Vlad Balan, and Peter Key, Efficient and Fair MAC for Wireless Networks with Self-interference Cancellation, in WiOpt 2011, May 2011.
  • Bozidar Radunovic, Alexandre Proutiere, Dinan Gunawardena, and Peter Key, Exploiting Channel Diversity in White Spaces, no. MSR-TR-2011-53, 1 April 2011.
  • Bozidar Radunovic, Ranveer Chandra, and Dinan Gunawardena, Adaptive Preambles for Coexistence, no. MSR-TR-2011-15, 31 January 2011.
  • Bozidar Radunovic, Dinan Gunawardena, Peter Key, Alexandre Proutiere, Nikhil Singh, Vlad Balan, and Gerald Dejean, Rethinking Indoor Wireless Mesh Design: Low Power, Low Frequency, Full-duplex, in WiMesh (SECON Workshop), IEEE Communications Society, June 2010.

People involved

Alexandre Proutiere, Bozidar Radunovic,  Dinan Gunawardena, Peter Key, Krishna Chintalapudi, Ramachandran Ramjee,  Ranveer Chandra