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White Space Networking with Wi-Fi like Connectivity

and detailed experimental and

simulation results.
Categories and Subject

Networking over UHF white

spaces is fundamentally different
from conventional Wi-Fi along
three axes: spatial variation, C.2.1 [Computer-Communication
temporal Network]: Wireless
variation, and fragmentation of communication
the UHF spectrum. Each of General Terms: Algorithms,
these differences gives rise to Design, Experimentation
new challenges for implementing Keywords: white spaces, channel
a width,Wi-Fi, dynamic spectrum
wireless network in this band. access, cognitive radios
We present the design and
implementation INTRODUCTION
of WhiteFi, the firstWi-Fi like
system constructed on top The unused portions of the UHF
of UHF white spaces. WhiteFi spectrum, popularly referred to
incorporates a new adaptive as “white spaces”, represent a
spectrum new frontier for wireless
assignment algorithm to handle networks,
spectrum variation and offering the potential for
fragmentation, substantial bandwidth and long
and proposes a low overhead transmission
protocol to handle temporal ranges. These white spaces
variation. WhiteFi builds on a include, but are not limited to,
simple technique, called SIFT, 180 MHz of available bandwidth
that reduces the time to detect from channel 21 (512 MHz) to
transmissions in variable 51 (698 MHz), with the
channel exception of channel 37. On
width systems by analyzing raw November
signals in the time domain. We 4, 2008, the FCC issued a
provide an extensive system historic ruling permitting the use
evaluation in terms of a of unlicensed
prototype implementation devices in these white spaces
[10]. In its ruling the FCC
imposed an important Most of the prior research in
requirement that white space UHF white spaces has focused
wireless devices on accurately detecting the
must not interfere with presence of incumbent RF
incumbents, including TV signals
broadcasts [14, 17, 18]. Recently,
and wireless microphone researchers have mentioned that
transmissions. This landmark they are
ruling was beginning to look at the problem
a result of extensive tests of establishing a wireless link
performed by the FCC on white between
space white space devices [8,12]. Our
hardware prototypes that were research pushes the state-ofart
submitted by Adaptrum, to the next level by going
Microsoft, beyond a single link. We
Phillips and Motorola. These identify the
prototypes demonstrated feasible challenges of forming a UHF
solutions white space network and show
for an accurate and agile sensing how
of incumbent signals [9]. to overcome them by presenting
Permission to make digital or techniques, algorithms, and
hard copies of all or part of this protocols
work for backed up by extensive
personal or classroom use is evaluation over a prototype
granted without fee provided network
that copies are as well as in simulations. We
not made or distributed for focus primarily on the problem
profit or commercial advantage of
and that copies setting up a Wi-Fi like network
bear this notice and the full consisting of an Access Point
citation on the first page. To (AP)
copy otherwise, to with multiple associated clients.
republish, to post on servers or We leave the case of evaluating
to redistribute to lists, requires multiple APs with multiple
prior specific clients as follow-on work. Our
permission and/or a fee. solutions
SIGCOMM’09, August 17–21, are complementary to the
2009, Barcelona, Spain. ongoing work in the IEEE 802.22
Copyright 2009 ACM 978-1- Working Group [1], as we
60558-594-9/09/08 ...$10.00. discuss in Section 7.
To appreciate the networking show that even a single packet
problem, it is important to transmission causes audible
understand interference during wireless
the differences between white microphone transmissions.
spaces and the popular ISM Consequently,
bands where Wi-Fi devices both the AP and its clients must
operate. First, in both bands disconnect and then
there is rapidly reconnect using a
spatial variation in spectrum different available channel
availability, but the impact of (Section 2.3).
this variation We have built WhiteFi, a UHF
is higher in white spaces than in white space wireless network
ISM bands. This is because that
the FCC ruling requires non- adaptively configures itself to
interference with wireless operate in the most efficient part
transmissions of
of primary users (incumbents) the available white spaces. In
(Section 2.1). Second, since the following sections we
the incumbents can operate in describe
any portion of the white spaces, three major innovations that
the network must be designed to allowed us to overcome the
handle spectrum fragmentation, challenges
with the possibility of each in networking white space
fragment being of different devices. Briefly, our
width. A contributions are:
UHF channel is narrow (6 MHz _ A novel spectrum assignment
wide in the US), and prior algorithm for managing variable
research bandwidth communications. Our
has shown that aggregating algorithm is unique in the
contiguous channels improves way it addresses the dual
throughput [15, 21]. challenges of spatial variation of
Consequently, the network must available
support variable spectrum and spectrum
width channels (Section 2.2). fragmentation. We introduce a
Third, RF transmissions in white new metric that leverages the
spaces are subject to temporal available airtime measurements
variations because wireless from each available UHF channel
microphones to predict the available airtime
can become active at any time when using multiple channels.
without warning. Our 27821 m 187 m
_ A novel AP discovery a hardware prototype for white
mechanism. These APs could be space networking. This platform
using incorporates a Wi-Fi card, a
any available channel width and UHF band converter, and a
could be operating in any softwaredefined
portion of the 180 MHz wide radio (SDR) [5]. We use the
white spaces. We have designed KNOWS platform to extensively
a new technique called SIFT, evaluate the quality and
which is short for Signal performance of our innovations
Interpretation and
before Fourier Transform. SIFT design in WhiteFi. To the best of
analyzes incoming our knowledge, WhiteFi is the
signals in the time domain to first network prototype that
detect transmissions over demonstrates the feasbility of
different Wi-Fi
channel widths without changing like networking over UHF white
the channel width of the spaces.
wireless card. It thus overcomes
the core limitation with previous CHARACTERIZING WHITE
approaches [15] that can only SPACES
detect packets sent at the In this section, we discuss the
same channel width. differences between the UHF
_ A novel method for handling white space spectrum and the
disconnections. Unexpected ISM bands where current Wi-Fi
disconnections systems
are a direct result of the operate. To understand the
temporal variations described differences, we performed a set
above. We leverage SIFT to of real-world measurements in
significantly reduce the the UHF bands in several
time to discover APs that have different
switched to a different part of settings to characterize spatial
the spectrum and we have and temporal variation. We also
designed a new signaling analyzed
mechanism publicly-available TV spectrum
that allows clients to signal allocation data to understand
disconnections to the AP without the distribution of UHF spectrum
interfering with ongoing usage in urban, suburban, and
transmissions over wireless rural
microphones. settings in the United States. We
We have implemented WhiteFi describe how each of these
on the KNOWS [20] platform, characteristics has a substantial
impact on the design of a UHF
white space wireless network. much lower degree of
2.1 Spatial Variation fragmentation and more
Television stations represent the contiguous spectrum
largest incumbent use of the than urban areas.
UHF spectrum. Across a wide white space AP, since
area, the set of occupied TV communication ranges are
channels expected to exceed
depends on the location of TV 1 km [2]. We computed the
transmitters as well as the Hamming distance, defined as
number the number of channels available
of stations operating in an area. at one location but unavailable
However, spatial variation exists at
on smaller scales as well, based another, across all pairwise
on obstructions and construction buildings. Our results showed
material. Wireless microphones, that the
which are used in settings median number of channels
ranging from small-scale lecture available at one point but
rooms to large-scale music and unavailable
sporting events, have typical at another is close to 7. This
transmission ranges of a few statistic reveals significant
hundred variation in
meters [16]. For these reasons, spectrum availability within
we expect significant spatial nearby buildings. While most
variation incumbents
in spectrum availability for detected in these measurements
wireless network were TV channels, we also
communications. found a few wireless
To quantify this variation, we microphones.
performed measurements of the The implication of this spatial
UHF spectrum inside 9 buildings variation for a white space
on our campus spanning an area wireless
of approximately 0.9 km _ 0.2 network is that an AP (a home
km, as shown in Figure 1. Note wireless router for example)
this must not naively select
entire area could be covered by a channel(s) to operate on based
single suitably positioned UHF solely on its
Figure 2: Expected spectrum own local observation of
fragmentation after the US DTV spectrum availability. The AP
transition in June 2009. Rural must take
and suburban regions exhibit a into account the availability of
spectrum at its clients as well.
2.2 Spectrum fragmentation dataset, we estimate UHF
While the ISM bands are a spectrum fragmentation in 3
contiguous chunk of spectrum, settings: urban
UHF (top 10 populated cities),
white spaces are fragmented due suburban (10 fastest growing
to the presence of incumbents. suburbs
The size of each fragment can based on the 2007 Forbes list)
vary from 1 channel to several and rural (10 random towns in
channels. the
The amount of fragmentation in US with a population less than
the UHF bands depends to a 6000). Figure 2 shows a
large extent on the density of TV histogram
stations, which varies of the contiguous spectrum
considerably widths that will be available in
with population density. Rural each of
(and suburban) areas, are likely these settings. As we see in the
to have larger chunks of figure, in all 3 settings there is
available UHF spectrum than at
urban areas. least one locale in which there is
In addition, the US digital a fragment of 4 contiguous
television transition [7], channels
scheduled to available, that is, 24 MHz of
be completed in June 2009, will spectrum. In rural areas
open up much more of the UHF fragments
spectrum, as a number of analog of up to 16 channels are
TV stations will stop operating expected.
in A consequence of this
these bands. fragmentation is that radios need
To quantify the spectrum to tune
fragmentation after the DTV the spectrum that they occupy to
transition, fit within available fragments.
we analyzed TV station data This implies the need for radios
from TV Fool [4], a website that to use variable channel widths
uses [15]
sophisticated signal and terrain or channel bonding. Compared to
modeling to estimate the Wi-Fi, the use of variable
availability channel
of TV channels at a given widths introduces two new
latitude and longitude. Based on challenges. First, it makes
this channel
assignment more challenging, In both cases, we detected the
since APs now occupy a range use of wireless mics at different
of channels, rather than just one. times of day and for different
Second, it increases the the durations.
time taken for nodes to discover Wireless mics can be turned on
APs. This is due to a limitation at any time. Since in its initial
28 ruling the FCC requires that
of techniques that can achieve white space devices avoid
variable channel widths on Wi-Fi interfering
cards [15]. Using this technique with mic transmissions, both
a radio can only decode packets clients and APs should detect the
that are sent at the same channel presence of a mic on a channel
width and same center and move away from that
frequency. channel.
An expensive switch of the PLL Furthermore, if only a client or
clock frequency is required to an AP detects a mic, each must
decode have a means of informing the
packets at other channel widths. other of the channel switch
In Section 4 we show how without
WhiteFi overcomes these inducing interference.
problems. Unfortunately, simple solutions
2.3 Temporal Variation to this problem are not feasible
Finally, the UHF white spaces in practice. For example, one
also suffer from temporal approach is for an AP to avoid
variation, using
in particular due to the channels where wireless mics
widespread use of wireless might be used. However, simply
microphones blacklisting known wireless mic
(mics) – from lecture rooms in channels is overly conservative
campuses to musicians at and makes inefficient use of the
home, and from sporting events spectrum, since mics tend to
to churches. We performed be used intermittently, for
measurements limited durations, and on any
of the UHF spectrum in two UHF white
settings: the campus setting space channel. A more
described earlier and a sophisticated approach would
University dormitory, over build a historical
several days. We database of mic usage patterns
used the prototype described in that APs can query to determine
Section 3 to determine the
the channels that are used at any an anechoic chamber. We
instant in time. However, our measured the audio quality of
measurements recorded
show that mic use is highly speech transmitted over the
unpredictable. For example, wireless mic with and without
although use of wireless mics in UHF
campus lecture rooms might transmissions. For UHF
follow transmissions, we sent 70-byte
a predictable schedule, each packets
room tends to be over- every 100 ms on the same UHF
provisioned channel as the mic. The
with multiple mics on different transmission
channels, and A/V operators power level was -30 dBm, which
choose is below the FCC-permitted
only a few of those mics for an maximum of 40 mW (16dBm).
event. Furthermore, it is We found that the perceived
impractical audio
to predict many other uses of quality degrades with data
wireless mics, such as for transmissions. The Mean
special Opinion Score
events, musical performances, or (MOS) of the received audio,
rehearsals; each again may use a computed using Perceptual
multitude of mics on various Evaluation
channels. of Speech Quality (PESQ),
The second possibility, which is decreased by 0.9 during the UHF
being considered by the IEEE packet transmissions. Other
802.22 working group [1], researchers have shown that a
involves an explicit channel MOS
renegotiation reduction of only 0.1 is
protocol between clients and APs noticeable by the human ear
when they detect a wireless [22]. We note
mic. This approach assumes that that these results may be worse
control messages will not than what one would observe in
induce audible interference on practice. In our experiments the
the wireless mic. To test this antenna of the data transmitter
assumption, and
we performed an experiment by the mic receiver were within a
placing a wireless mic few feet (in the same anechoic
receiver along with our chamber).
prototype WhiteFi device
(Section 3) in
We are actively working on 3. KNOWS HARDWARE
acquiring an experimental PLATFORM
license UHF white space networking
Processor currently requires specialized
Scanner hardware support, and several
UHF hardware prototypes have been
Translator reported
UHF Antenna in the literature [8, 12, 20]. All
Figure 3: Photograph of the these devices have a
KNOWS hardware prototype. transceiver radio and a separate
from the FCC and repeating scanner radio. The need for a
these experiments in more separate
realistic and scanner stems from the
normal settings. requirement to quickly and
One could argue that accurately
interference in the beginning of detect the presence of primary
a mic users.
recording might not be cause for To support WhiteFi, we
concern. However, when clients developed the KNOWS hardware
are mobile, a mic may be sensed prototype
only in the middle of a The hardware consists of three
recording. components: a PC, a
Furthermore, such a naive scanner, and a UHF translator.
approach relies on all nodes in The PC is used both to control
the vicinity the
of a mic detecting its appearance scanner and to transmit and
at the same time. If not all receive packets over the UHF
detect the mic synchronously, bands.
then each node transmits one The PC comes equipped with a
after standard 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi card, the
the other, thereby inducing antenna port of which is
further interference with the connected to the UHF translator,
mic. which
These results demonstrate the downconverts the outgoing 2.4
need for a protocol that can GHz signal to the 512–698 MHz
signal band. Incoming signals are
the presence of a wireless mic to likewise upconverted and passed
the network without interfering to the
with the mic. We present such a Wi-Fi card. The center frequency
protocol in Section 4.3. of the UHF translator is set from
the PC via a serial control to solve the classic hidden
interface. To ensure that the terminal problem, in which a TV
outgoing is within transmission range of
signal fits within a 6 MHz UHF the TV tower but the
channel, we use the technique transmitting
presented device is not.
in [15] of changing the PLL Sensing of incumbents,
clock frequency to reduce the especially microphones, is an
Wi-Fi transmission bandwidth to actively
5 MHz. researched problem. Recent
The scanner samples the UHF proposals use energy detection
spectrum to detect the presence to detect
of the primary users [17,18].
TV broadcasts and wireless However, such an approach is
microphone signals. It is prone
implemented to false positives, especially
using the USRP [5] software- given the extremely low
defined radio board coupled with detection
a thresholds that have been set
50–800 MHz TVRX receiver- forth in the FCC report [9].
only daughter board. The False positives
scanner reduce the amount of available
scans UHF TV channels 21–51 in white spaces to form a white
6 MHz increments. Due to the space network. Furthermore,
USRP bandwidth constraint [6], false alarms might cause WhiteFi
the frequency span for each scan to
is 8 MHz. We perform the FFT vacate the channels (Section
on the PC, and using the feature 4.3). This switching overhead
detection algorithms described might
in [20], our scanner is able to affect the performance of
detect associated clients.
TV signals at signal strengths as Several solutions attempt to
low as -114 dBm, and wireless avoid false positives. One
microphones at -110 dBm. We approach
note that this is much below the proposed from Motorola requires
TV microphones to beacon at high
Temporal Analysis power when they are being used
(SIFT) [13]. Researchers from Berkeley
This 30 dB detection buffer is have proposed collaborative
required sensing to improve sensing
[14]. The FCC is looking at the throughput than single-channel
use of a geo-location systems 5.
database to regulate and inform Signal Inspection before Fourier
clients about the presence of Transform (SIFT): Existing
primary systems detect signatures of
users [9]. primary users in the frequency
In this paper, we do not address domain,
the problem of accurate after performing a Fast Fourier
incumbent Transform (FFT) on the time
detection, which remains an series
active research area. Instead, we signal. However, such scanners
focus on the networking cannot detect data transmissions
challenges that arise assuming a for two reasons. First, in
reasonably contrast to TV and microphone
accurate incumbent detection transmissions,
technique. We expect WhiteFi data transmissions are
to benefit from future advances intermittent. Therefore, it is
in incumbent detection. diffi-
To enable efficient networking cult to distinguish intermittent
over white spaces, our platform data from noise using prior
has two key features unavailable detection
in previous systems [8, 12, 20]: techniques. Second, data
Variable Channel Widths: transmissions in our system can
Existing systems can only use be sent
one over multiple channel widths.
UHF channel, even when Unless the entire signal is
multiple contiguous UHF received,
channels are including all subcarriers, data
unoccupied. This is because the packets cannot be decoded. To
bandwidth of the outgoing signal address
is fixed to be 5 MHz. To support these concerns, we propose
multiple contiguous channels, we SIFT, which processes raw
modified the Atheros Wi-Fi signals
driver using the techniques in the time domain and extracts
presented data information from them.
in [15] to transmit and receive We describe this technique in
signals of bandwidth 5, 10 and detail in Section 4.2.1.
20 4. WhiteFi DESIGN
MHz. As we show in Section 5, In this section, we describe the
this provides substantially WhiteFi design in detail.
greater WhiteFi
is an implementation of a Wi-Fi the UHF spectrum on which a
like protocol on top of the UHF WhiteFi AP or client
white spaces that addresses the communicates.
key challenges described earlier. A channel is represented as a
We design our system on the tuple (F;W), where F is the
hardware described in the center
previous frequency, andW is the width of
section, with one transceiver and the channel. In our current
one scanner. Also, we focus on implementation,
systems with a single data rate W can be either 5 MHz, 10 MHz,
(since rate adaptation itself is an or 20 MHz, but our
open problem in white spaces). hardware is generally capable of
Our network architecture is using more channel width
based on three key components. options.
First, WhiteFi incorporates a In contrast, the term UHF
novel spectrum assignment channel indicates one of the 30
algorithm segments
that is able to handle spatial of the UHF spectrum, which are
variation of the spectrum as well each 6 MHz wide. Note that in
as spectrum fragmentation. our
Second, WhiteFi uses an current hardware
efficient, implementation, channels are
time-domain signal analysis always centered at
technique, called SIFT (Signal a UHF channel’s center
Interpretation frequency. Hence, a 5 MHz
before Fourier Transform), that WhiteFi channel
allows clients to rapidly can fit within a single UHF
discover APs transmitting on a channel, a 10 MHz channel spans
range of channel widths. Third, 3 UHF channels, and a 20 MHz
WhiteFi provides a chirping channel spans 5 UHF channels.
protocol that permits a client to 4.1 Spectrum Assignment
indicate As shown in Section 2, the
a sudden disconnection from the problem of selecting an
AP due to a channel conflict appropriate
with an incumbent, such as a transmission channel is
wireless microphone, without significantly harder in white
interfering spaces than in
with the primary user. regular Wi-Fi. Because of
In the following, we use the term temporal and spatial variability
channel to represent a range of in spectrum
availability, the AP must pick a In prior work, SampleWidth [15]
channel that is free for all its solves the channel width
clients. Moreover, fragmentation assignment
leads to different-sized spans of problem for a pair of nodes. In
available white spaces, so the WhiteFi, we look at the
AP also has to decide on the best broader problem of selecting
possible both the center frequency and
channel width to use as well. channel
Always using the widest channel width when there are more than
that is available for all clients two nodes.
may not be the right solution, Preliminaries: The AP and each
since client maintains a spectrum
there could be significant map which is a bit-vector fu0; : :
background traffic (from other : ; ukg where each ui represents
APs) on whether the corresponding UHF
some of the underlying UHF channel is currently in use by an
channels. Similarly, always incumbent user (that is, a TV
picking channel or wireless microphone).
the narrowest channel width ui = 1 if the channel is in use by
(i.e., a single UHF channel) may an incumbent, and 0 otherwise.
be In the United States, there are 30
wasteful if there are wider UHF channels represented
channels available. in the spectrum map. Each node
These challenges motivate an also maintains an airtime utiliza-
adaptive spectrum-assignment 30
algorithm tion vector fA0; : : : ;Akg,
that periodically reevaluates the where Ai represents an estimate
assignment based on white of the
space availability at the AP and airtime utilization on each UHF
clients. The algorithm also has channel. Note that for
to incumbentoccupied
be client-aware since the AP channels, Ai is undefined. The
cannot simply rely on its own spectrum map and airtime
observation utilization are measured using
of the available UHF channels. the secondary scanning radio,
This requires clients to using
share information with the AP on the SIFT technique described in
their own observed UHF channel Section 4.2.1 below.
availability. Triggering new channel
selection: An AP decides to
probe for
a new channel when one of two channel selection without client
conditions occurs. The first is input.1
an involuntary channel switch The first step is to take the
induced by an incumbent (such bitwise OR of the clients’ and
as a AP’s
wireless microphone) becoming spectrum maps, u?, to determine
active anywhere on the AP’s the set of UHF channels
current available
channel (F;W). Likewise, if a at all of the nodes.
client detects an incumbent, it The second step is to consider
will disconnect from the AP and each possible channel (F;W) in
cause a channel switch to occur. the available white spaces, and
This process is described in estimate the aggregate
Section 4.3. The second is a bandwidth
voluntary that the AP and clients would
channel switch, which is receive if selecting that channel.
triggered when the AP detects a The
performance challenge is that the probed
drop on its current channel. The channel (F;W) might overlap
AP periodically probes partially
for a new potential channel as or completely with channels
well, in case another portion of occupied by other APs; we do
the not
spectrum has opened up since its disallow channel overlaps
last probe that could yield between APs. For this reason,
higher estimating
performance. Of course, an AP aggregate bandwidth based on
also performs channel selection airtime utilization measurements
when booting up. in
Channel probing: To probe for a UHF white spaces is harder than,
new potential channel, the AP say, in the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band.
must have information about the For a given 6 MHz UHF channel
spectrum map and airtime c and a node n, we define _n(c)
utilization as the expected share of c that
observed at each of the clients. node n will receive if c is
Clients periodically transmit contained
this information to the AP as within (F;W). This is a function
part of a control message. When of the busy airtime An
bootstrapping, the AP will not c on the
have any clients and will
channel c as measured at n, as that a node will be able to use
well as the estimate of the the channel c on each
number transmission
of other access points operating opportunity.
on c, which we denote Bn 1It is possible that the AP
c . This selects a channel that is blocked
value can be determined for for all
instance by using the scanning or some of its potential clients, a
radio case that is handled by the
and the SIFT technique (Section disconnection
4.2.1). For every node n and any mechanism described in Section
UHF channel c, we define 4.3.
_n(c) = max(1 _ An 2Since today’s wireless networks
c ; are dominated with downlink
1 traffic [11], and it is difficult to
Bn measure the number of
c + 1 interfering
): (1) clients, we estimate the number
The intuition behind this of contending nodes as Bn
definition is as follows. At any c , i.e.
instant the number of interfering APs.
in time, the probability that a Given a range of UHF channels
node will be able to transmit on spanned by the probed channel
the (F;W), therefore, we define the
channel c is at least the residual multichannel airtime metric, or
airtime 1 _ An MChamn(F;W), at node n as
c . This is a good MChamn(F;W) =
estimate for n’s expected share W
when the channel is mostly free. 5MHz _ Y c2(F;W)
However, even when the medium _n(c) (2)
is completely utilized by Since _n(c) represents the
neighboring expected share of a UHF channel
APs (An c, the
c is 1) a node can still expect to product of these shares across
get its “fair share” each UHF channel in (F;W)
of the airtime when it is gives
contending with them.2 the expected share for the entire
Therefore, we take channel. We note that simply
the maximum of these two values taking
as an estimate of the probability the minimum or the maximum
across all channels, instead of
the product, will be an possible channel (F;W) in the
underestimate since the traffic available white spaces, and
on a narrower selects
channel contends with traffic on the channel that maximizes this
an overlapping wider channel metric. In order to also include
[15]. the
The product is then scaled by the values measured at the clients
optimal capacity of the probed (for upstream traffic), the AP
channel, W=5MHz. We use a 5 bases
MHz channel as our reference its decision on an average value
point because it fits into one of all its clients MChamn(F;W)
single UHF channel. value, as well as its own value,
Example 1: If there is no MChamAP (F;W). Since most
background interference or other traffic in today’s wireless
APs occupying any portion of networks is on the downlink
(F;W), then MChamn(F;W) [11], the AP
simply evaluates to the optimal weights its own MCham
channel capacity. That is, proportionally higher. In our
MChamn(F;W) = 1 for W=5 implementation,
MHz, 2 for W=10 MHz and, and the AP selects a channel that
4 for W=20 MHz. maximizes: N_MChamAP +
Example 2: Consider a channel c PnMChamn where N is the
= (F; 20MHz). Out of the 5 number of clients attached to the
UHF channels that are spanned AP. However, notice that other
by c, let three have no metrics (such as metrics
background including
interference, one has 1 AP and fairness conditions) can easily
airtime utilization of 0.9, and be implemented instead of
one aggregate
has 1 AP with airtime utilization throughput.
0.2. MChamn(F; 20MHz) = The AP broadcasts the new
4 _ 0:5 _ 0:8 = 1:6. That is, the channel to its clients, which
metric predicts a throughput on upon
this hearing the message, switch to
channel that is equivalent to the new channel. (If a client
roughly 1.6 times of an empty 5 misses
MHz the channel switch message, it
channel. will revert to the disconnection
Channel selection: The AP protocol
evaluates MCham(F;W) for each described in Section 4.3.) In the
case of a voluntary channel
switch, if the measured for periodic beacons from APs,
performance of the new channel which are typically transmitted
is less every 100 ms.
the previous channel, the AP
will re-evaluate its channel An alternative approach would
selection, be to leverage the SDR in the
possibly switching back to the node’s scanner to capture a trace
original channel. In our of the signal across a band, and
prototype then apply real time OFDM
of WhiteFi, the AP measures the decoding, in software, on
aggregate throughput achieved successive
by channel center frequencies and
all clients as a measure of the widths to detect an AP.
effectiveness of a channel However,
switch. this would incur substantial
To prevent frequent changes in computational overhead;
the channel or ping-ponging performing
across OFDM decoding in software at
two channels, we also add 802.11a PHY rates requires
hystersis to our system as done multiple
in [19]. cores of a well-provisioned
In our evaluation in Section 5.4, server-class machine [23].
we show that the MCham metric Moreover,
predicts the best possible since the SDR hardware can only
channel to a degree of accuracy sample an 8 MHz range of
that is spectrum at a time, multiple such
sufficient for the above WhiteFi scans would be required.
spectrum assignment algorithm 4.2.1 SIFT: Efficient Variable-
to Bandwidth Signal Detection
achieve near-optimal throughput We propose a hybrid solution
in a wide variety of test cases. that uses the SDR to sample a
4.2 AP Discovery given
The use of variable channel 8 MHz band, but performs an
widths in WhiteFi presents a new efficient time-domain analysis of
challenge when performing AP the
discovery. TraditionalWi-Fi raw signal to detect the presence
clients of an AP and determine its
perform access point discovery channel
by scanning each channel and width. This approach avoids the
listening high overhead of decoding
packets in software, while 3There are a total of 30 5MHz
making efficient use of the WhiteFi channels, 28 10MHz
SDR’s capabilities. channels,
Once the AP’s channel (F;W) has and 26 20MHz channels.
been identified, the average increases beyond a
radio transceiver is tuned to that certain threshold. Similarly,
channel and decodes the beacon when the
packets in hardware. average falls below the
This approach, which we call threshold, the algorithm marks it
Signal Interpretation before as an end
Fourier Transform, or SIFT, of a packet. In our current
works as follows. For a given implementation this threshold is
center fixed at
frequency F, the USRP board a low value. We are actively
samples a bandwidth of 1 MHz working on techniques to
around F at 1 MSamples/sec. dynamically
Each sample represents 1.024 _s adjust the threshold based on
of background noise levels.
raw RF signal as an (I;Q) pair; A key question is, how do we
the signal amplitude is computed determine the size of this sliding
as pI2 + Q2. The USRP delivers window? Since the 802.11 SIFS
blocks of 2048 samples at a duration determines the time
time to the PC. between the end of a data packet
SIFT uses a simple detection and the start of the subsequent
algorithm that determines packet acknowledgement, both of which
widths based on signal we want to detect accurately, we
amplitudes. To accurately detect limit the size of the sliding
the beginning window to less than the
and end of a packet minimum possible
transmission, we compute a SIFS value in our system. As
moving prior work has shown [15], SIFS
average over a sliding window of values change across different
the signal amplitude values. We channel widths and the lowest
do not use instantaneous values, SIFS
since the signal amplitude might value in our system is for a 20
fall to very low values even in MHz transmission, which is 10_s
the middle of the packet or
transmission 10 samples. Hence, we choose a
(Figure 5). The start of a packet window size of 5 samples. Once
transmission is detected when
the algorithm determines the short packet, such as a CTS-to-
start and end time of a packet, self, one SIFS interval after
the duration sending
of the packet is known. From a beacon packet.
this we also glean information We expect SIFT to have very few
about the interval between a data false positives since it matches
packet and its acknowledgement. both the ACK duration and the
Both the packet duration and the interval between the packet and
SIFS interval are inversely ACK. However, in extremely
proportional noisy environments or in the
to the channel width. This presence
information can be used to of concurrent transmissions,
infer the channel width on which SIFT might have false negatives.
the packet was transmitted. For It could fail to accurately detect
example, by matching the delay all transmissions. We note that
between the data and its although this will add delay to
acknowledgement the time for discovering APs
packet, and the duration of the (Section
acknowledgement packet, 4.2.2) the discovery algorithm
we can determine the channel will continue to work as long as
width of the unicast we can detect even a single
transmission. packet.
The reason this technique works When SIFT samples an 8 MHz
is twofold. First, the band centered at a frequency Fs,
acknowledgement it will be able to detect a
packet is the smallest MAC layer WhiteFi transmitter whose
packet (14 bytes), and channel overlaps
cannot be confused with a data with Fs, even though their center
transmission. Also, the duration frequencies may not match.
of an acknowledgement packet at For example, when SIFT detects
the narrowest width of 5 MHz is a 20 MHz WhiteFi channel at Fs,
still much smaller than any data the true center frequency Fc of
packet sent at 20 MHz. Second, the WhiteFi transmitter can be
the SIFS interval is different on anywhere
every width and reduces the in the range Fs_10MHz.
probability Therefore, the output of the
of any false positives. We use a SIFT
similar technique to match algorithm is (F _ E;W) where F
against non-data packets such as is the center frequency of the
beacons. We require APs to send
transmitter, E is an error term, 2: while AP not detected and j _
and W is the transmitter’s 0 do
channel 3: c := 0;
width (5, 10 or 20 MHz). Since 4: while AP not detected and cur
W can be determined exactly by < NC do
SIFT, E = _W=2. 5: if cur =2 S then
We demonstrate the accuracy and 6: SIFTscan(cur);
performance of the SIFT 7: S := S [ fcurg;
algorithm 8: if AP not detected
in Section 5.1. 9: cur := cur + wj ;
4.2.2 AP Discovery using SIFT 10: end if
SIFT enables clients to discover 11: end if
APs without tuning into all 12: end while
possible 13: j := j _ 1;
(F;W) channel combinations. 14: end while
Based on the SIFT primitive, Determining AP’s center
we devise two AP discovery frequency:
algorithms, as described below. Let cur be channel on which
Throughout our discussion, NC SIFT detected an AP
denotes the number of UHF LetW be the AP’s channel width
channels reported by SIFT
(30 in the United States) and NW 15: k := 0;
represents the number of 16: while AP beacon not decoded
channel widths (three in our do
implementation). 17: Listen for AP beacons on
Linear SIFT-Discovery channel
Algorithm (L-SIFT): This 18: [cur _W + k; cur + k];
algorithm 19: k := k + 1;
simply scans each of the 30 UHF 20: end while
channels in succession, attempt- ing to detect an AP using the
32 SIFT technique at each one.
Algorithm 1 J-SIFT Algorithm: Because
UHF channels are numbered L-SIFT scans the spectrum from
0; : : : ;NC. lower frequencies to higher
w0; : : : ;wNW : channel width frequencies,
options (5, 10, 20 MHz) as soon as a transmitter is
S: Set of UHF channels already detected, its center frequency
scanned. Fc is known: Fc = Fs + E, where
SIFT search: Fs is the frequency that SIFT
1: j := NW; c := 0; S := fg;
was scanning and E is the and attempt to decode packets to
uncertainty returned by SIFT. exactly determine the center
The expected frequency.
number of iterations until an AP J-SIFT works as presented in
is discovered is NC=2, Algorithm 1. It operates in two
and the worst case is NC phases. First, it scans the UHF
(compared to roughly NC _ spectrum in a staggered fashion,
NW=2 and using SIFT to detect the
NC _ NW, respectively, by the presence of a WhiteFi
non-SIFT baseline). transmitter. In
Jump SIFT-Discovery Algorithm the second phase, it identifies
(J-SIFT): We can improve the transmitter’s center
upon the expected scan time of frequency
L-SIFT by performing a Fc. While the worst-case
staggered discovery time of J-SIFT is the
search of the spectrum. Since same
SIFT is able to detect a WhiteFi as for L-SIFT (NC), the expected
transmitter by scanning discovery time can be shown to
anywhere within its band, we can be 1
improve NW
performance by first scanning (NC + 2NW_1 + (NW _ 1)=2).
for 20 MHz WhiteFi channels We elide the derivation
(skipping due to lack of space.
over 5 UHF channels at a time), In WhiteFi, we expect the
then 10 MHz channels (skipping average number of scans
over 3 UHF channels at a time as required for
well as any UHF channels L-SIFT and J-SIFT to be NC=2
previously scanned), and finally and (NC + 4 + 1)=4, respec-
for 5 MHz channels (in the 4Generally, if more widths are
remaining available, we would do the
unscanned UHF channels).4 staggered
One disadvantage to J-SIFT is search starting from the widest
that the WhiteFi transmitter’s channel width.
center tively. That is, we expect J-SIFT
frequency is not immediately to outperform L-SIFT when NC
known when it is detected. is greater than about 10 UHF
Therefore, channels. For narrower white
it is necessary to tune the radio spaces,
to each of Fs _ E channels L-SIFT is more efficient. Our
measurements in Section 5.2
these theoretical findings. channel, in a manner similar to
4.3 Handling Disconnections that being considered by the
A key challenge in WhiteFi is 802.22
dealing with the sudden working group [1]. To avoid
appearance disrupting communications with
of a primary user (such as a stillconnected
wireless microphone) on a clients, chirp detection is
channel performed using SIFT on the
that an AP-client pair is using secondary radio, in the
for communications. Note that background. Once a chirp has
either been detected,
the AP or the client might detect the AP can switch its main radio
the primary user, requiring that to the backup channel and
a decode the contents of the chirp
channel must be vacated. We call packet. As a further
this a disconnection. optimization,
Our approach is as follows. The we can encode some amount of
AP maintains a separate 5 MHz information in the time domain,
backup channel that is advertised such as the client’s SSID, for
as part of its beacon packets on example by setting the length
its main channel. If the AP or a of the chirp packet. (In effect,
client detects a primary user on this uses SIFT to implement a
the main channel, the node lowbitrate
switches to the backup channel OOK-modulated channel.) This
and approach avoids switching
transmits a series of chirps that the main radio to the backup
contain information on the white channel for clients associated
spaces available at that node. with a
If a client senses that a different AP.
disconnection has occurred (e.g., Once a node begins chirping,
because after a threshold time interval
no data packets have been Tc,
received in a given interval), it the collective white space
switches availability advertised by each
to the backup channel and listens node on
for chirps, as well as the backup channel is used to
transmitting reassign spectrum to the AP and
its own. Access points clients in that SSID, as
periodically scan for chirps on described in Section 4.1. Nodes
the backup in the SSID
switch to the new channel and time taken to switch across
resume communication. channels, which is known to be a
There is an additional case we few milliseconds. We realize
must consider, namely, when a that this overhead can be
node (either the AP or the avoided by
client) determines that the adding security features to SIFT,
previouslyselected so that only an authorized client
backup channel is occupied by will cause the AP to switch its
another primary user. In main radio. We are actively
this case, an arbitrary available investigating
channel is selected as a this approach.
secondary EVALUATING WhiteFi
backup and used for chirping. In this section, we evaluate
Therefore, in addition to WhiteFi in detail. Using a
scanning combination
the backup channel for chirps, of simulations and experiments
the AP periodically scans all on our prototype
channels implementation,
in an attempt to reconnect with we show:
“lost” nodes. Note that chirps 33
contend for the channel using 0.125 M 0.25 M 0.5 M 0.75 M 1
CSMA, just like data packets; as M
a 5 MHz 0.99 0.98 0.98 0.98 0.97
result, it is unproblematic for a 10 MHz 0.99 0.99 0.99 1.00 0.99
backup channel to overlap with 20 MHz 0.99 1.00 0.99 1.00 0.99
another Table 1: SIFT’s packet detection
AP’s main channel. rate, i.e., the median number
An attacker can potentially of packets detected by SIFT
hijack our system by sending divided by the total sent by the
fake wireless card. The values are
chirps. However, the impact of measured across different widths
this attack is limited. Once the when varying the traffic
AP’s main radio switches to the intensity from 125 Kbps to 1
backup channel, it will process Mbps.
the _ In Section 5.1, we demonstrate
chirp packet only if it is encoded the accuracy of SIFT in
with the network’s security key detecting
(similar to Wi-Fi). Therefore, packets across different channel
the overhead of this attack is the widths and when there is
extra high signal attenuation.
_ In Section 5.2, we show the the second device to count the
effectiveness of WhiteFi’s AP number of packets detected by
discovery SIFT.
algorithms. Our experiments We repeated this experiment for
show that J-SIFT improves 5, 10 and 20 MHz channel
the time to discover APs by more widths,
than 75% compared to non- and for each width, we varied
SIFT based techniques. the traffic intensity. All the
_ We demonstrate the reported
correctness of WhiteFi’s numbers are over 10 runs. In
protocol in handing every run, we sent 110 packets
disconnections in Section 5.3. of size
_ Finally, in Section 5.4, we 1000 bytes each.
show that WhiteFi’s spectrum Accuracy across Channel
assignment Widths: Table 1 shows the
algorithm adapts quickly to fraction
changes in network conditions. of the number of packets
Using extensive simulations in detected by SIFT when varying
QualNet, we also show the rate
that WhiteFi’s performance is at which packets were sent
close to optimal under various across different channel widths.
conditions. As we
5.1 Accuracy of SIFT see in the table, SIFT detects
We evaluate the packet detection nearly all the packets for every
accuracy of SIFT. We first channel
describe width. The worst case loss
our methodology and then show across all widths and rates was
its accuracy when varying 2%.
two parameters: channel width An interesting observation is
and signal attenuation. that the detection rate for 5 MHz
Methodology: We used the was
following set up for our slightly worse than the detection
experiments. rate at other channel widths.
We started an iperf session from This
one KNOWS device, and was a result of the way 5 MHz
measured the number of packets packets are transmitted by our
that were received at a second hardware
device in the time domain. As we see in
using a packet sniffer. Figure 5, the initial portion
Simultaneously, we used the
scanner of
of a packet at 5 MHz channel of SIFT at low signal strengths
width is sent at a lower by connecting two KNOWS
amplitude devices
than the rest of the packet. Figure 6: Accuracy of air time
Consequently, our algorithm utilization measurement using
sometimes SIFT. Error bars were within 2%
fails to accurately match the of the mean.
length of the detected packet and Figure 7: Discovery of APs with
the distance. SIFT is able to
transmitted one. However, SIFT discover
always correctly detects the APs until as long as theWi-Fi
channel card can decode packets.
width of the transmitted packet, Figure 8: Reduction in discovery
even when it mis-estimates the times using L-SIFT and JSIFT
packet length. when compared to the non-SIFT
In addition to detecting the based baseline.
appropriate width, we also use through a tunable RF attenuator,
SIFT and performing the same
to measure the airtime experiment
utilization for WhiteFi’s as above. Figure 7 shows the
spectrum assignment percentage of packets that were
algorithm. We show that SIFT detected by SIFT and the packet
performs as expected in Figure sniffer upon varying the
6. The total time occupied by the attenuation.
packets doubles on halving At low attenuation, both SIFT
the channel width. This stems and the packet sniffer perform
from the observation in [15] that very well. However, SIFT
halving the channel width also outperforms the packet sniffer,
halves the effective transmission as it is
rate. Since we send the same even able to detect corrupted
number of packets at a given packets. At higher attenuation,
width, SIFT
the total airtime is constant, continues to detect more packets
even when we change the rate of than the sniffer until 96 dB
injected attenuation.
packets. Since SIFT applies a threshold
Accuracy with Signal to the amplitude of the incoming
Attenuation: We evaluated the signal, it performs poorly
accuracy beyond a certain attenuation. In
experimental setup, this occurs realistic settings, i.e., in
at 96 dB. Beyond 96 dB we see a metropolitan, suburban and rural
very sharp drop in the settings.
percentage of successfully Methodology: We set up two
detected packets. KNOWS devices as before, and
In contrast, the reception ratio configured one as an AP and the
of the packet sniffer falls off other as a client. In the
more beginning
smoothly, and performs better of the experiment, the AP started
than SIFT beyond 98 dB to beacon on a randomly chosen
attenuation. UHF channel and channel width.
However, at this attenuation the We then measured the time for
capture ratio is extremely low the
at around 35%. Most client to discover the AP using
applications, including TCP, will L-SIFT, J-SIFT and the non-
perform SIFT
poorly at such high loss rates. baseline. Depending on the
Hence, we conclude that in most scenario, we artificially
commonly occuring scenarios, specified the
SIFT detects almost all packets spectrum at the AP and the
that client. The AP did not beacon on
are successfully received by a any
transceiver radio. of the occupied channels, and
5.2 Time to Discover APs the client did not scan these
We now evaluate the channels
performance of the L-SIFT and for an AP.
J-SIFT discovery Contiguous Channels: In this
algorithms in discovering APs. experiment, we set the spectrum
We compare them to a non- map to have only one available
SIFT baseline that would have to fragment. We varied the number
scan every possible center fre- of
34 UHF channels in the fragment
Figure 9: Time to discover one from 1 to 30, since 30 is the
AP at various locations. total
quency and width to discover the number UHF channels that are
APs. In this section, we consider available to portable devices. In
two scenarios. First, we show Figure 8, we plot the total time
the benefit of our algorithms as taken by L-SIFT and J-SIFT to
a discover the AP as a fraction of
function of contiguous width. the total time taken by the non-
Then, we evaluate the benefits in SIFT
baseline. When there is only one fewer contiguous channels, J-
available UHF channel, the time SIFT is 34% faster than the
taken by all the algorithms is the baseline.
same. However, when we In rural areas (more contiguous
increase channels), we see that J-SIFT
the width of the available can
fragment of spectrum, L-SIFT discover APs in less than one-
and JSIFT third the time taken by the
perform much better than the baseline
baseline. As expected, L-SIFT algorithm.
outperforms J-SIFT initially (for 5.3 Handling Disconnections
narrow white-spaces) since it We now quantify the time taken
does by WhiteFi to reconnect
not require the “endgame” of disconnected
trying to find the proper placing clients. We setup a client and an
of AP and started a data
the AP channel. On the other transfer between them. Then we
hand, as exactly predicted by our switched on a wireless
analysis in Section 4.2, J-SIFT microphone
becomes more efficient for white near the client. This causes the
spaces spanning more than 10 client to disconnect, and it
UHF channels (60 MHz). starts chirping on the backup
Realistic Settings: We also channel. In our experimental
measured the time to discover an setup,
AP the AP switched to the backup
in metropolitan, suburban and channel once every 3 seconds,
rural areas in the US. We used and
the picks up the chirp in at most 3
methodology described for seconds. Immediately, the AP
Figure 2 to obtain the spectrum uses
maps the spectrum assignment
post-DTV transition. We algorithm to determine the best
randomly placed the AP on an available
available channel to operate on, and the
channel and width and repeated system is operational again after
the experiment 10 times for a
every lag of at most 4 seconds.
locale. As shown in Figure 9, in 5.4 Spectrum Assignment
metro areas, where there are We now evaluate WhiteFi’s
spectrum assignment algorithm.
a detailed understanding of our mechanism in QualNet such that
algorithm, and to evaluate it a node spanning multiple UHF
under channels will transmit a packet
varied settings, we decided to only if no carrier is sensed on
use the QualNet simulator [3]. any of
The those channels. We also
need to use the simulator arose modified QualNet to support
for two reasons. First, we were fragmented
constrained by having a limited spectrum. Every node reads its
number of prototype devices, initial spectrum map from a
and configuration
second, we did not have an FCC file.
license to transmit packets in the 5.4.1 Simulation Results
TV bands. Therefore, we We study the performance of
evaluated our system (spectrum WhiteFi’s spectrum assignment
assignment, algorithm under various settings.
discovery and disconnection First, we microbenchmark the
protocols) in a limited setting MCham metric, and show that it
– on a testbed spanning one floor is a good estimate of the
in our building, and a maximum expected
transmit power of 1 mW. throughput on a channel. Then,
Modifications to QualNet: We using large scale experiments,
modified QualNet to support we
variable channel widths by show that WhiteFi performs
appropriately scaling the OFDM reasonably well under: (i)
symbol varying
period, and various MAC layer amounts of background traffic on
parameters that were described the channels, (ii) large amounts
in [15]. We also adjusted the of spatial variation in spectrum
channel noise levels based on availability, and (iii) when there
the is a
channel width. Furthermore, at lot of churn in background
every node, we explicitly drop traffic. In all these experiments,
packets that were sent at a WhiteFi
different channel width. To performs nearly as well as an
ensure that a optimal algorithm. In the
node appropriately contends with process, we
packets that are sent on also show the need for WhiteFi
overlapping to adapt both the center
channels of different widths, we frequency
modified the carrier sensing and the channel width.
Microbenchmark Setup: To the narrower 10 MHz channel
verify that MCham correctly surpasses the wider channel
predicts thereafter.
the channel that will lead to the Similarly, at about 24 ms inter-
best throughput, we simulate packet delay, 5 MHz starts
a spectrum fragment of 5 achieving the highest
adjacent UHF channels (26-30), throughput, which is accurately
each having one background predicted by
client/AP-pair. There is one AP the MCham metric. We can
with conclude that the MCham metric
one associated client, yields
transmitting a link-saturating a reasonably accurate prediction
UDP flow. We of which channel width will
vary the traffic intensity of the result
background nodes (from 0 to 50 in the highest throughput given a
ms certain level of background
inter-packet delay) and measure traffic.
the effect on the MCham metric Setup of large-scale simulations:
and client throughput when To better understand the
transmitting on the 5, 10, and 20 behavior
MHz of WhiteFi in large-scale
channels centered at channel 28. settings, the next three
Accuracy of the MCham Metric: simulations
The results in Figure 10 show consider the following basic
that the MCham metric setup. We place one AP in the
accurately predicts which middle
channel achieves of an area, and randomly
the highest throughput for any distribute clients as well as
given background intensity. For background
example, 35
selecting a 20 MHz channel Figure 10: MCham value and
achieves best throughput until resulting throughput of a 5, 10,
a background traffic intensity of and 20 MHz channel as a
roughly 18 ms inter-packet function of background traffic
delay. intensity.
Similarly, the MCham metric The MCham metric accurately
predicts that roughly at this predicts which channel
level of achieves highest throughput.
background traffic, 10 MHz and AP/client-pairs within
20 MHz become equally good, transmission range of this AP
and (background
clients are always deployed MHz are the algorithms that
within transmission range of statically pick the best possible
their respective 10
background AP). The AP and and 20 MHz channel,
clients are backlogged and respectively. Finally, OPT is an
transmit UDP flows (up- and ideal, omniscient
downstream). Background nodes algorithm that for every
transmit constant-bit-rate (CBR) experiment run picks the channel
traffic at a pre-specified with maximum throughput. The
intensity. goal of the WhiteFi spectrum
All experiments are repeated 5 assignment
times with different random algorithm is to approach OPT as
placements closely as possible.
of nodes, and results are Impact of Background Traffic:
averaged. Figure 11 shows how WhiteFi
An underlying spectrum map is reacts to varying degrees of
shared across all clients (except background traffic. Specifically,
in the experiment in which we there
focus on the impact of spatial are X background AP/client-
variation). pairs in the system, each being
Specifically, the spectrum map randomly
is taken from our real assigned to one of the free UHF
measurements channels, and each sending
in Section 2. There are 17 free at a packet interval delay of 30
UHF channels, and the ms.
widest contiguous white space is The figure shows that WhiteFi
36 MHz, i.e., there are multiple achieves close to optimal
possibilities of selecting even 20 performance
MHz wide channels for the AP. for varying degree of
In all experiments, we measure background traffic. With little or
the per-client throughput of no
clients/APs. We consider the background traffic, WhiteFi
following baseline algorithms performs as well as picking the
for widest
comparison with WhiteFi. OPT 5 available channel (OPT 20
MHz denotes the throughput MHz), which is optimal. As the
achieved when statically picking traf-
the best (across all fic increases, the throughput
nonincumbent) achieved by OPT 20 MHz drops,
UHF channels. Similarly, OPT and
10 MHz and OPT 20
OPT 10 MHz becomes better (at the AP start with a common
about 10 background spectrum map. Then, for each
AP/clientpairs). client
Even at this point WhiteFi (and AP) and for each UHF
performs near-optimally, which channel i, we randomly flip the
shows that WhiteFi adaptively entry
switches to narrower channels as ui with probability P. In the
needed. In fact, our evaluation experiment, we vary P from 0
shows that WhiteFi is always (no
within spatial variation) to 0.14 (large
14% of the optimal value spatial variation).
throughput OPT. It can be seen in the figure,
Figure 11: Impact of background spatial variation reduces
traffic on throughput. achievable
Figure 12: Impact of spatial aggregate throughput. Because
variation on throughput. the AP needs to select a channel
An important observation is that that is free at all clients, no
due to fragmentation and contiguous free spectrum parts
background remain
traffic, there is no single best available for P > 0:1, and hence,
center frequency and channel the aggregate throughput reduces
width that should be used in to the throughput of a single
UHF white spaces. WhiteFi is UHF channel (5 MHz). For low
capable spatial
of adjusting to the appropriate variation, the throughput is
width and selects a near-optimal much higher when selecting a 20
channel. MHz
Impact of Spatial Variation: wide (e.g. at P = 0:01) or a 10
Figure 12 shows the impact of MHz channel (e.g. at P = 0:05).
spatial variation on per-client Generally, the figure highlights
throughput. In this experiment, the need for adaptive channel
there width
are 10 clients connected the AP, in UHF white spaces: no single
and one background channel width (OPT 20 MHz,
client/APpair OPT
per UHF channel, transmitting at 10 MHz, OPT 5 MHz) achieves
CBR with 30 ms inter-packet close-to-optimal throughput in
delay. Spatial variation is all
modeled as follows. Each client cases. On the other hand,
and WhiteFi is near-optimal in all
Impact of Churn: Finally, we Figure 13: Impact of churn on
want to understand the impact of throughput.
churn (in terms of background Figure 14: Experimental
traffic) on the throughput validation of WhiteFi’s spectrum
achieved assignment
by WhiteFi and the various algorithm on a testbed with
baseline algorithms. There are a variable background
total traffic. Top figure shows the
of 34 background AP/client- MCham metric for each of the
pairs, two per free UHF channel. three channel widths. Bottom
In figure shows the throughput
order to model churn, we model (averaged
background nodes using a simple over 5 sec windows) for WhiteFi
discrete Markov chain with two and OPT.
states (A=active, P=passive). A Figure 13 shows that WhiteFi
background node in the active performs near-optimally for
state transmits CBR traffic with varying
60 degree of churn. For low churn
ms inter-packet delay. A node in and little background traffic,
the passive state does not WhiteFi selects the widest
transmit. channel. For high churn (e.g.,
We simulate this setting for state duration
various state transition 45 seconds and passive
probabilities, probability 1=3), always picking
selecting them to cover the the
entire range of (1) likelihood of widest channel (OPT 20 MHz)
being in either state and (2) becomes the worst performing
average state duration (see x- algorithm.
axis in Instead, WhiteFi is better than
Figure 13). The extreme cases any static channel width
are (i) all nodes are always in choice. In fact, WhiteFi even
state outperforms OPT. In this
P, (ii) nodes are in each state experiment,
with equal likelihood and they this is possible because OPT is
remain the optimal static channel
in their current state for an selection
average of 30 seconds, and (iii) throughout the entire execution
all nodes of the simulation. Instead,
are always in state A. WhiteFi
is adaptive and can adjust to the Initially, when there is no
current values of background background traffic, the AP and
traf- client
fic, changing its channel operate on the 20 MHz spectrum
accordingly. chunk between channels 26 and
5.4.2 Results from our Prototype 30. Then at time 50 seconds, we
To demonstrate the adaptability introduce background traffic on
of WhiteFi’s spectrum channels 26 through 29.
assignment Correspondingly, the value of
algorithm, we set up an the MCham
experiment with an AP and a metric for the 20 MHz fragment
client drops sharply, and the AP and its
in our building, which is clients move to the 10 MHz
Building 5 in Figure 1. The spectrum fragment. As shown in
spectrum map the
of our building has the following figure, this is also the fragment
free UHF channels: 26 to 30, 33 that has the best throughput.
to 35, 39 and 48. Therefore, we Then
have fragments of size 20 MHz, at time 100 seconds, we
10 introduce background traffic on
MHz and two channels of 5 MHz channels
to form a network. 33 and 34, and as before the
Every client and AP using value of the 10 MHz channel’s
WhiteFi spends 1 second on MCham
every metric drops, and the system
UHF channel to determine the switches to channel 39 (any 5
airtime utilization using SIFT, MHz
as chunk could have been chosen).
described in Section 5.1. All Then at times 150 and 200
nodes feed their airtime to the seconds,
AP, we remove the background
which computes the MCham interference from channels 33
metric and decides on the and 34, and from channels 26
channel to through 29, respectively.
use for the network. We present Correspondingly,
the throughput of our system WhiteFi switches to the fragment
with with the best MCham
time, and the corresponding value, i.e. to the 10 MHz
MCham value on the different fragment at 150 seconds, and to
spectrum the 20
chunks in Figure 14.
MHz fragment at 200 seconds. chunk of spectrum. An
We conclude from the above alternative technique might use a
experiments PHY
that WhiteFi adaptively operates layer that operates over non-
on the best part of the contiguous spectrum chunks. The
spectrum. AP
DISCUSSION AND can then operate over the entire
FUTUREWORK bandwidth, decoding signals
White space networking provides from
a unique opportunity for the different clients who may be
cleanslate using different OFDM
network design, owing to the subcarriers.
lack of existing standards. Our For AP-to-client
decision to build the WhiteFi communications, the PHY layer
prototype with a Wi-Fi card was could either
motivated by several factors. suppress or send a null signal on
Wi-Fi is a mature, well- the subcarrier that the primary
understood user is using [21]. In theory this
technology that is inexpensive is a reasonable idea but it poses
and easily available. Several two practical problems. First,
wireless leakage from adjacent
card vendors we have spoken subcarriers
with are considering pushing causes interference to the
some version of Wi-Fi to the primary user. To avoid this
IEEE standards body for white interference,
space we would require a highly
networking. Additionally, Wi-Fi accurate bandpass filter of
enabled us to build a prototype appropriate
quickly and focus on some of the bandwidth but to the best of our
higher layer issues that are knowledge researchers are still
somewhat working on developing such
agnostic to the existing physical sharp bandpass filters. Second,
and MAC protocols. However, and
we do realize that alternative more importantly, sending data
designs are possible and might over different subcarriers to an
be used in future networks. We AP
discuss a few of these below. is difficult to implement for
WhiteFi leverages the technique uplink traffic. We are not aware
described in [15], which requires of any
the AP and its clients to operate
over the same contiguous
system that can decode packets pact slot scheduling and lead to
sent simultaneously from poor performance. Furthermore,
multiple in UHF white spaces the clients
clients over non-overlapping and AP may be over a mile away,
subcarriers. This is an active further aggravating the
research scheduling problem. Additional
area and we are investigating the research is
practicality of such a system. needed to understand these
Another issue is our choice of issues and is out of scope for
CSMA/CA, the medium access this paper.
control (MAC) protocol for Wi- Our initial results show that
Fi, in WhiteFi. The research CSMA/CA is a reasonable choice
literature for
has several interesting proposals white space networking.
for MAC protocols, which Prior work has proposed the use
can be broadly categorized under of control channels to reserve
Listen Before Transmit (LBT) bandwidth and spectrum [12,
and Time Division Multiple 24]. While there are advantages
Access (TDMA). Observing what to
is a control channel design, we
happening in the ISM bands we believe that control channels can
made the decision that WhiteFi be
must be able to co-exist with compromised, thus bringing
other unlicensed devices. The down the network. Also, control
success channel
of LBT protocols (e.g., Wi-Fi) in based solutions are prone to the
the ISM bands made it a natural range-mismatch problem [24].
choice for white space We overcome these problems by
networking. We also believe that not using a dedicated control
an alternative channel. WhiteFi uses a backup
TDMA like MAC (e.g., channel in the white spaces
Bluetooth) will not perform well (instead
in of 900 MHz spectrum as
white spaces without significant proposed by CMAC [24]) thereby
modifications. Local avoiding the range mismatch
interference problem. Also, WhiteFi does not
from wireless microphones use
around the client or the AP a static control channel. It
would im- dynamically adapts the backup
37 channel
to operate on spectrum that is broadband access to rural areas
not occupied by a primary user. and neighborhoods. In contrast,
WhiteFi considers a usage model
RELATEDWORK similar to Wi-Fi, with one AP
providing coverage to several
Prior work has mostly focussed possibly mobile users. Despite
on the problem of the
opportunistically difference in the scenarios, the
forming a single link over UHF techniques developed by
white spaces [8, 12]. This WhiteFi,
involves accurate sensing of the for disconnection, discovery and
spectrum [14,17,18], reliable spectrum assignment, are also
identification applicable
of incumbents, and radio agility in WRANs. For example, the
on detecting a primary. 802.22 draft includes support
However, to the best of our for variable widths, although it
knowledge, no prior work has does not specify how to use it.
studied A recent technology that enables
the problems of forming a Wi-Fi unlicensed devices to co-exist
like network over white spaces. with licensed users is SWIFT
WhiteFi builds upon our prior [21]. SWIFT pokes the primary
work on KNOWS [24], which user
uses to learn about its presence.
a similar hardware platform and Unfortunately, this technology
proposes a control channel based cannot
MAC protocol for ad hoc be used over white spaces
networks over white spaces. because the FCC does not allow
WhiteFi “testing”
looks at the problem of forming the presence of an incumbent by
an AP based network while “poking” at it with a
reusing transmission.
the Wi-Fi MAC and without Also, the incumbents of UHF
using a control channel. white spaces do not back off.
A complementary effort to
WhiteFi is the IEEE 802.22 [1] CONCLUSIONS
working In this paper, we have presented
group’s proposal for WRANs the design and implementation
(Wireless Regional Area of WhiteFi, the first white space
Networks) Wi-Fi like wireless network.
over UHF white spaces. It is We moved beyond the current
intended to provide wireless state-of-art that considers a
link to building a real network
with multiple links. In building
WhiteFi we identified and
described several unique
challenges in
operating a white space network
and showed with extensive
how white space networks differ
from ISM band Wi-Fi
netwoks. WhiteFi contributes a
new spectrum assignment
that solves the dual challenges
of spatial variation of available
spectrum and spectrum
fragmentation. We further
a new mechanism that quickly
discovers APs operating
in the 180 MHz white space,
using any arbitrary channel which quickly analyzes packets
width. in the time domain, allowing fast
We also described a new AP discovery and managing
technique for handling disconnections due to temporal
disconnections variations.
where clients signal to the AP We demonstrated WhiteFi in the
without interfering with ongoing context of our custom built
wireless microphone prototype UHF hardware and
transmissions. Underlying our QualNet simulations. As part of
solutions isa new applicationof a ongoing
signal recognition technique work, we are deploying WhiteFi
called SIFT, over a campus wide white
space network