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Control-Free Dynamic Spectrum Access for

Cognitive Radio Networks


Chunsheng Xin
Dept. of Computer Science
Norfolk State Univ.
Norfolk, VA 23504
cxin@nsu.edu
Min Song
ECE Dept.
Old Dominion Univ.
Norfolk, VA 23517
msong@odu.edu
Liangping Ma
Argon ST, Inc.
San Diego, CA 92121
lma@argonst.como
Sachin Shetty
ECE Dept.
Tennessee State Univ.
Nashville, TN. 37209
sshetty@tnstate.edu
Chien-Chung Shen
Dept. of CIS
Univ. of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
cshen@cis.udel.edu
AbstractDynamic spectrum access (DSA) promises to resolve
spectrum scarcity and low spectrum utilization caused by todays
static spectrum access (SSA) policy. In DSA, secondary users
dynamically search and access spectrum bands that are tem-
porarily unused by primary users. In this paper, we propose a
control-free DSA algorithm for cognitive radio networks (CRN).
Our algorithm enables each CRN node to select its operation
band without coordination and exchange of control messages
with neighbors. The contribution of our algorithm is that such
an independently selected band can reach neighbors with high
probability, while streamlining control complexity and overhead
in DSA. We develop an analytical model to evaluate performance.
Numerical results show that our control-free DSA algorithm can
achieve very good performance.
I. INTRODUCTION
Todays static spectrum access (SSA) policy grants a xed
spectrum band to each licensed user for exclusive access.
With the rapidly proliferated wireless services, SSA is ex-
hausting the radio spectrum and leaves little spectrum for
future demands, a problem known as spectrum scarcity. On
the other hand, a large number of licensed spectrum bands is
considerably under-utilized in both time and spatial domains.
These two issues have motivated the development of dynamic
spectrum access (DSA) policy, allowing secondary user (SU)
to dynamically detect idle licensed bands that have no primary
user (PU) activity and temporarily access them, through cog-
nitive radio. In this paper, we refer to a spectrum band as a
channel.
Recently there have been many research efforts on DSA
(e.g., see [1][6] and references therein). In the literature, an
SU may be referred to as a communication session between
a pair of transmiting and receiving nodes, or one single node
in cognitive radio networks (CRNs). For the latter case, an
important problem is that when an SU (transmitter) wants to
send trafc to another SU (receiver), how the former nds
the latter since every SU dynamically changes the operation
channel (due to the dynamic availability of spectrum bands).
This is known as channel selection problem in multi-channel
MAC protocols. There have been quite a few MAC protocols
proposed for DSA in CRN (e.g., see [7][11]). These efforts
assumed a common control channel, used by neighboring
nodes to negotiate a data channel for packets transmission.
This work was supported in part by NSF grants CNS-0721313 (Xin), CNS-
0644247 (Song), CNS-0721230 (Ma), and CNS-0721361 (Shen).
In this paper we propose a channel selection algorithm
without relying on coordination and exchange of control
messages between CRN nodes. Our motivation is two folds.
First, using a common control channel for coordination may
not be feasible in certain scenarios. For instance, the ISM
band that is suggested by some studies as control channel can
get crowded in urban areas, since it is an unlicensed band
and thus shared by many wireless services. Second, using a
data channel for coordination is difcult for DSA and likely
results in large overhead, as data channels are dynamically and
temporarily accessible. Our contribution is that our algorithm
does not need coordination, not even through data channels,
and thus there is literally no control overhead. Furthermore,
our algorithm can be used as a supplement for control-based
channel selection algorithms when the control channel is
congested or jammed, or nodes lose contact with each other in
the case that data channels are used for coordination. In next
section, we describe the network model. In Sections III and
IV, we present the algorithm and develop an analytical model.
Section V presents numerical results.
II. NETWORK MODEL
From the perspective of SU, a channel (randomly) alternates
between accessible (no PU activity) and inaccessible (with
PU activity) states. We assume that SUs (CRN nodes) operate
in time slotted mode, while PUs may or may not operate in
slotted mode. In the case that PUs operate in non-slotted mode,
the operation channel of a CRN node may become inaccessible
within a time slot due to appearance of PU activity, and
the CRN node has to stop using the channel or switches
to another channel. We assume that the channel accessible
duration is much larger than time slot duration, and therefore,
the percentage of such interrupted slots is expected small,
and the analysis results in the ensuing discussion are not
signicantly affected.
Each node has a single cognitive radio for communication,
and a fast wideband spectrum sensor for spectrum analysis
(e.g., the spectrum sensor in [12] can sense/analyze a spectrum
band of 528 MHz in the order of 20 s). A node uses its
spectrum sensor to detect accessible channels in each time
slot, and selects one of them as its operation channel using the
algorithm in next section. Then this node switches its cognitive
radio to the selected channel. If there are two or more CRN
978-1-4244-6404-3/10/$26.00 2010 IEEE
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the IEEE ICC 2010 proceedings
nodes switched to the same accessible channel, then these
nodes use some existing multiple access MAC protocol (e.g.,
CSMA/CA) to access this channel and communicate with each
other. The time synchronization between nodes is performed
when they meet in the same channel.
As in several studies (e.g., [2]), we assume that a node
always has trafc to each neighbor and aim to examine the
achievable maximum capacity/throughput. Our performance
metric is the number of channels that are utilized for SU
communication. The packet-level throughput can be obtained
using the existing analytical models of MAC protocols (e.g.,
[13]) by conditioning on the number of utilized channels
obtained by our model.
III. CONTROL-FREE DSA
We propose a control-free channel/band selection algorithm
for DSA based on the receiver-directed technique. There
have been quite a few studies on receiver-directed channel
selection for conventional wireless networks (e.g., see [14]
and references therein). These studies assumed two radios
per node, with one radio on a xed receiving channel and
the other dynamically switching to the receiving channel of
other nodes to send packets. Like other MAC protocols for
conventional wireless networks, the existing receiver-directed
algorithms cannot handle dynamic channels. In the following
we describe our proposed algorithm that can nicely work on
dynamic channels in CRN, and needs only a single cognitive
radio to save cost (cognitive radio is expected costly).
Let N denote the number of nodes in the network. Let
M denote the total number of channels in the spectrum
sensing range of CRN nodes, and M denote the number of
accessible channels in the current time slot. We denote the
accessible channels as {1, . . . , M}. Due to sensing errors (e.g.,
miss-detection and false alarm) or partial coverage of some
channels, a node may have not detected all M accessible
channels, and different nodes may have detected different sets
of accessible channels. Let C
i
(1 i N) denote the set of
accessible channels detected by node i. We assume that each
channel in C
i
is randomly detected by node i with a probability
p, called channel detection probability in this paper.
At each time slot, each node selects an accessible channel
to listen for incoming packets, referred to as home channel in
this paper. Algorithm 1 describes a function Q(i, C) which is
used by node i to select its home channel
i
, where M is the
total number of both accessible and inaccessible channels in
the system, known to every node in advance. The algorithm
utilizes a pseudo-random number generator Z(y) to get a
random subscript, to obtain a candidate home channel H(k),
the kth channel in set H.
In existing receiver-directed channel selection algorithms,
a node stays on its home channel to receive packets. When
it wants to transmit packets to another node, it switches to
the home channel of that node. Nevertheless, since in our
algorithm, each node uses only one radio, this will result in a
situation that when a node, say i, wants to transmit to another
node, say j, in the current slot, node i does not know whether
Algorithm 1 Q(i, C), to compute home channel for node i
1. Set i as the seed for the pseudo-random number generator
Z().
2. Let H = {1, . . . , M}
3. repeat
4. k = Z(|H|) // Generate k such that 1 k |H|
5. h = H(k) // H(k) is kth channel in H
6. H = H\{h} // Remove h from H
7. until h C
8.
i
= h // Selected home channel
node j is in its home channel or has switched to some other
channel. To resolve this problem, we let a node either stay on
its home channel or switch to the home channel of other nodes
by a pre-set rule. Specically, node i uses a function g(i, t)
to compute its state in time slot t. If g(i, t) = 1, then node i
stays on its home channel at time slot t, and we say that node
i is a passive node at time slot t. Otherwise, if g(i, t) = 0,
node i is an active node and switches to home channels of
passive nodes for packet transmission in time slot t. With this
approach, node i can easily know whether node j is at the
home channel in slot t, by locally calling the function g(j, t).
The function g() should be designed to make a node change
its state over different time slots, e.g., using a random number
generator.
A major benet of our algorithm is that when node j wants
to switch to the home channel of node i, we do not require that
node j obtains the accessible channel set (or other information)
of node i in advance to determine the home channel of node
i
1
. In fact, we do not require any communication between
nodes i and j before node j has actually switched to the home
channel of node i. Our approach works as follows. Node j calls
Algorithm 1 with node is ID, but node js accessible channel
set C
j
, to get the home channel of node i from the point of
view of node j, denoted as

i
(j) = Q(i, C
j
), and then node j
switches to channel

i
(j). Certainly

i
(j) may not be the real
home channel of node i (
i
), since usually C
j
= C
i
. However,
we will show in Section V that Algorithm 1 ensures that if
there is a large percentage of common channels in C
i
and C
j
,
then the probability of

i
(j) =
i
is high and thus node j
can successfully switch to the real home channel of node i.
In the case of

i
(j) =
i
, after node j switches to channel

i
(j), node j can detect that it is a wrong channel, and then
switches to the home channel of another node, waiting for the
next time slot to switch to node is operation channel.
IV. ANALYSIS OF CONTROL-FREE DSA
We dene an accessible channel as a utilized channel if
it contains at least one active node and one passive node,
i.e., a pair of transmitter and receiver. This is because the
nodes on such a channel can send packets to each other (as
described earlier, we assume that a node always has trafc to
1
Note that node j might have met node i in some past time slot t
0
and has
obtained the accessible channel set of node i, C
i
, but C
i
may have changed
and thus cannot be used in this time slot.
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the IEEE ICC 2010 proceedings
each neighbor). In this section, we aim to derive the number
of utilized channels for our control-free channel selection
algorithm, given N, M, and p. It can be shown that M follows
binomial distribution, and thus we can eliminate M if needed.
A. Success Probability of Channel Estimation
We call the probability Pr(

i
(j) =
i
) as success probability
of channel estimation. In Algorithm 1, we can see that the
algorithm actually searches a random sequence of channels
h
1
, h
2
. . . based on the node ID, with each channel h
x
selected
among the M channels, until a channel is found belonging to
the channel set C which is supplied as input parameter. Thus
the two executions of Q() by node i for getting
i
= Q(i, C
i
)
and by node j for getting

i
(j) = Q(i, C
j
) will search the
same sequence of channels h
1
, h
2
. . ., since they use the same
node ID i, and in this sequence, there must exist a number
R 1 such that h
1
, . . . , h
R1
/ C
i
C
j
and h
R
C
i
C
j
,
since Step 6 of Algorithm 1 ensures that there is no repeated
channels in this sequence. This is similar to drawing a red ball
from an urn with |C
i
C
j
| red balls and M |C
i
C
j
| black
balls (|| denotes cardinality). Furthermore, h
R
must fall into
three cases: 1) h
R
C
i
\C
j
, i.e., h
R
C
i
but h
R
/ C
j
; 2) h
R

C
j
\C
i
; 3) h
R
C
i
C
j
. In the last case, h
R
=
i
=

i
(j). Due
to the random channel search of Algorithm 1, R is a random
variable. Let K = |C
i
C
j
| denote the number of common
channels of C
i
and C
j
. Let W = |C
i
C
j
| denote the total
number of unique channels in C
i
and C
j
. For 1KWM,
Pr(
i
=

i
(j), R = r | K=k,W =w)
= Pr(h
1
, . . . , h
r1
/ C
i
C
j
, h
r
C
i
C
j
| K=k,W =w)
=
k(Mw)r1
(M)r
, (1)
where (Y )
r
= Y (Y (r 1)) and r Mw + 1.
Next we obtain
Pr(
i
=

i
(j) | K=k,W =w) =
Mw+1

r=1
k(Mw)r1
(M)r
=
k
w
(2)
Remark: To avoid co-channel interference, it is desirable
for different nodes to have different home channels. As such,
in our algorithm, each node randomly selects an accessible
channel as the home channel. Nevertheless, we cannot let it be
completely random, because if so, node j would have difculty
to estimate the home channel of node i. To see this, let us
consider a simple scenario of C
i
= C
j
. If node i randomly
picks one channel from C
i
as its home channel
i
, and node
j also randomly picks one channel from C
j
as the estimation
of node is home channel

i
(j), then the success probability
that node j correctly estimates the home channel of node i is
1
|Ci|
. On the other hand, by Eq. (2), the success probability
of channel estimation using our algorithm is
|CiCj|
|CiCj|
= 1.
Therefore, instead of using a pure random algorithm, we use
an intentionally designed pseudo-random algorithm to estimate
the home channel of a node.
Next we derive Pr(K=k,W =w). We dene
D(k, w | u, v) = Pr(K = k, W = w | |C
i
| = u, |C
j
| = v).
Since the channels in C
i
and C
j
are randomly detected,
then they are randomly distributed among the M accessible
channels. This is similar to a situation that from an urn with
M balls, rst draw u balls, label them and return them back to
the urn. Then draw v balls from the urn. The probability that
the second draw gets k labelled balls (which have appeared in
the rst draw), and the two draws get total w unique balls is
D(k, w | u, v). Hence we have
D(k, w | u, v) =
_
_
_
_
u
k
__
Mu
vk
_
_
M
v
_ , if w = u + v k
0, otherwise
, (3)
where 0 u, v M, and max(0, u + v M) k
min(u, v), since k = u + v w u + v M. Note
that D(k, w | u, v) > 0 only if k + w = u + v since
w = |C
i
C
j
| = |C
i
| +|C
j
| |C
i
C
j
| = u + v k.
The number of channels in C
i
follows a binomial distri-
bution with parameters M and p, denoted as B(u; M, p) =
Pr(|C
i
| = u). Let D(k, w) (0 k w M) denote
Pr(K = k, W = w). We have
D(k, w) =

u,v
D(k, w | u, v) Pr(|C
i
| = u, |C
j
| = v)
=

u,v
D(k, w | u, v)B(u; M, p)B(v; M, p). (4)
By Eq. (3), D(k, w | u, v) > 0 only if u and v are correlated
such that u + v = k + w. Therefore, in Eq. (4), we only
need to summate over u, with v implicitly determined as v =
k+wu. Furthermore, D(k, w | u, v) > 0 only if k u w.
Therefore, Eq. (4) becomes
D(k, w) =

w
u=k
_
u
k
__
Mu
vk
__
M
u
_
p
u+v
(1 p)
2M(u+v)
= p
k+w
(1 p)
2M(k+w)
_
M
w
_

w
u=k
_
u
k
__
w
u
_
= p
k+w
(1 p)
2M(k+w)
_
M
w
_

w
u=k
_
wk
uk
__
w
k
_
= p
k+w
(1 p)
2M(k+w)
_
M
w
__
w
k
_
2
wk
.
In the second step, we substitute u +v by k +w and v k
by w u, and use the formula
_
Mu
wu
__
M
u
_
=
_
M
w
__
w
u
_
. In the
third step, we use the formula
_
u
k
__
w
u
_
=
_
wk
uk
__
w
k
_
.
For convenience, denote q = (1 p). Then we have
Pr(

i
(j) =
i
) =

1kwM
Pr(
i
=

i
(j) | K=k,W =w)D(k,w)
=

1kwM
k
w
p
k+w
(1 p)
2M(k+w)
_
M
w
__
w
k
_
2
wk
= q
2M

M
w=1
_
M
w
_
1
w
_
2p
q
_
w
w
k=1
k
_
w
k
_
_
p
2q
_
k
= q
2M

M
w=1
_
M
w
_
1
w
_
2p
q
_
w
w
p
2q
_
1 +
p
2q
_
w1
=
p q
2M
2q + p

M
w=1
_
M
w
_
_
2p
q
_
1 +
p
2q
__
w
=
p q
2M
2q + p
_
q
2M
1
_
=
p
2p
_
1(1p)
2M
_
. (5)
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the IEEE ICC 2010 proceedings
Eq. (5) shows that the success probability of channel esti-
mation depends on M and p only, not on specic node and
channel, i and j.
B. Number of Home Channels
Let

N denote the number of passive nodes in a time slot.
These

N nodes each randomly selects a home channel from
its accessible channel set using Algorithm 1. To avoid co-
channel interference, it is desirable that the home channels are
all different so that passive nodes listen on different channels.
With our algorithm, some nodes might select the same home
channel. In the following, we derive the number of (unique)
home channels in a time slot.
Theorem 1: Let Z
ij
denote the event that node i selects
channel j as its home channel using Algorithm 1. Then the
probability of Z
ij
is
Pr(Z
ij
) =
1
M
_
1 (1 p)
M
_
. (6)
Proof: The home channel selection of a node has been
discussed in Section IV-A. Specically, node i uses Algo-
rithm 1 to search a random sequence of channels h
1
, h
2
. . .,
until a channel h
R
belongs to C
i
. In order to make Z
ij
happen,
we must have h
R
= j. Similar to the derivation of Eq. (2),
we have
Pr(Z
ij
, R = r | j C
i
, |C
i
| = v) =
(Mv)
r1
(M)
r
,
since in the rth ball drawing, there is only one choice to make
h
r
= j. Then we have
Pr(Z
ij
| j C
i
, |C
i
| = v)
=

M+1
r=1
Pr(Z
ij
, R = r | j C
i
, |C
i
| = v)
=

M+1
r=1
(Mv)
r1
(M)
r
=
1
v
.
The probability that j C
i
and |C
i
| = v (1 v M) is the
probability that node i successfully detect channel j, together
with additional v 1 channels. Thus we have
Pr(j C
i
, |C
i
| = v) =
_
p B(v 1; M1, p), if v 1
0, if v = 0
.
Then we can compute
Pr(Z
ij
)=
M

v=0
Pr(Z
ij
| j C
i
,|C
i
| =v) Pr(j C
i
,|C
i
| =v)
=
M

v=1
1
v
p
_
M1
v1
_
p
v1
(1 p)
Mv
=
1
M
_
1 (1 p)
M
_
.
Let
j
= 1 or 0 depending on whether channel j is a
home channel of some passive node(s) in the current time
slot. Let =

M
j=1

j
denote the number of unique home
channels. Channel j is not a home channel of any node iff
events Z
1,j
, . . . , Z

N,j
are all false. Moreover, for a xed j,
the events Z
1,j
, . . . , Z

N,j
are independent. Thus we have
Pr(
j
= 0)= Pr(

Z
1j
, . . . ,

Z

Nj
) =

N
i=1
(1Pr(Z
i,j
)). (7)
Then the mean number of (unique) home channels is
E() =

M
j=1
E(
j
) =

M
j=1
(1 Pr(
j
= 0)) (8)
= M
_
1
_
1
1
M
_
1 (1 p)
M
_
N
_
. (9)
C. Number of Utilized Channels
In each time slot, every active node selects a passive node
and switches to the home channel of the selected node for
packet transmission. In this paper, we consider two schemes
for an active node to select its intended passive node:
Random node selection (RNS), i.e., randomly picking a
passive node.
Trafc load oriented node selection (TNS). A passive
node i is selected if the active node has more packets
to node i than to any other node in the current time slot.
The RNS can be seen as a special case of TNS in that if the
trafc load between all node pairs is uniform, then an active
node has the same probability to select each passive node. Let

ki
denote the trafc load from node k to node i. Let A and P
denote the set of active and passive nodes, respectively, in the
current time slot. Let
ki
denote the probability that an active
node k (k A) selects passive node i (i P) for packet
transmission in the current time slot. The
ki
is computed
based on
ki
as follows.

ki
=
_

ki

iP

ki
, for k A, i P
0, otherwise
Note that in the case of RNS, we simply have
ki
=
1
|P|
for
k A and i P. Let V
ki
denote the event that active node k
selects passive node i and successfully switches to the home
channel of node i, i.e.,

i
(k) =
i
. Then we have
Pr(V
ki
) =
ki
Pr(

i
(k) =
i
),
where Pr(

i
(k) =
i
) is the success probability of channel
estimation, which does not depend on i and k (see Eq. (5)).
Let Z

ij
(i P, 1 j M) denote the event that passive
node i selects channel j as its home channel
i
, and there
is at least one active node k that selects node i for packet
transmission, and node k successfully switches to the home
channel of node i. We have
Pr(Z

ij
) = Pr(Z
ij

kA
V
ki
))
= Pr(Z
ij
)
_
1

kA
Pr(

V
ki
)
_
= Pr(Z
ij
)
_
1

kA
_
1
ki
Pr(

i
(k) =
i
)
__
where

V
ki
is the complement event of V
ki
, and Z
ij
has been
dened in Theorem 1.
With Pr(Z

ij
), the mean number of utilized channels can
be computed similarly as the mean number of home channels.
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the IEEE ICC 2010 proceedings
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
10 20 30 40 50
P
r
o
b
a
b
i
l
i
t
y
Number of Accessible Channels (M)
ana, p=1
sim, p=1
ana, p=0.95
sim, p=0.95
ana, p=0.9
sim, p=0.9
Fig. 1. Success probability of channel estimation
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
5.5
6
6.5
10 20 30 40 50
#

o
f

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t
i
l
i
z
e
d

C
h
a
n
n
e
l
s
Number of Accessible Channels (M)
ana, p=1
sim, p=1
ana, p=0.95
sim, p=0.95
ana, p=0.9
sim, p=0.9
(a) 20-node CRN, N = 20,

N = 10
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 20 30 40 50
#

o
f

U
t
i
l
i
z
e
d

C
h
a
n
n
e
l
s
Number of Accessible Channels (M)
ana, p=1
sim, p=1
ana, p=0.95
sim, p=0.95
ana, p=0.9
sim, p=0.9
(b) 30-node CRN, N = 30,

N = 15
Fig. 2. Mean number of utilized channels
Specically, substituting Pr(Z
ij
) in Eq. (7) by Pr(Z

ij
), and
applying Eq. (7)(9), we get the mean number of utilized
channels.
V. NUMERICAL RESULTS
To verify the analytical model, we have simulated two
single-hop CRNs, with 20 and 30 nodes, respectively. The
simulation time is 5000 seconds and the time slot is assumed
10 milliseconds. At the beginning of every slot, each node
randomly selects the operation state (active or passive), and
independently detects accessible channels with probability p.
Each active node picks a passive node as intended receiver
through the RNS scheme. For the analysis results, we assume
half of nodes as passive nodes, i.e., 10 and 15 passive nodes
in the two CRNs, respectively. To make simulation results be
comparable to analysis results, we collect statistics data only
in time slots where the number of passive nodes is half of
total nodes.
We plot the success probability of channel estimation in
Fig 1, where ana indicates analytical results, and sim
indicates simulation results (averaged over time slots). The
analytical results match simulation results quite well. The
gure shows that the success probability of channel estimation
is almost not affected by M. This can be seen from Eq. (5),
where for reasonably large M, the term (1p)
2M
vanishes and
thus Pr(
i
=

i
(j))
p
2p
. Another observation is that if p is
reasonably high, e.g., p > 0.9, then Pr(
i
=

i
(j)) > 0.818,
which means that on average an active node can reach a
specic passive node in less than
1
0.818
1.2 time slots
(it follows geometric distribution). In other words, if the
accessible channel sets of two nodes have a large percentage
of common channels
2
, then an active node can easily reach an
intended passive node.
Fig. 2 shows the mean number of utilized channels. When
there are abundant accessible channels, in the 20-node CRN,
10 active nodes go into approximately 6 channels to send
packets to passive nodes, while in the 30-node CRN, 15
active nodes go into around 9 channels to send packets. Based
on the results of many experiments with various parameters
(not shown due to space limit), we have observed that our
algorithm can achieve approximately 60% of the theoretical
2
The p indirectly determines the percentage of common channels.
maximum performance (which is 10 utilized channels for 20-
node CRN and 15 utilized channels for the 30-node CRN) that
requires a dedicated common control channel (and likely a
second radio). Furthermore, the performance of our algorithm
can be improved if we let an active node continue to select
another passive node and switch channel, if after a channel
switching, the node nds that the current channel does not
have a passive node, or already has an active node. We will
study such improvements as future work and aim to achieve
80% of the maximum performance.
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This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the IEEE ICC 2010 proceedings