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Interference Analysis of Cognitive Radio Networks in a Digital Broadcasting Spectrum Environment

T.H.N. Velivasaki, T.V. Zahariadis, P.T. Trakadas, C.N. Capsalis


Abstract The analog switch-off of TV broadcasting will release significant spectrum resources available for the introduction of innovative services. In this context, cognitive radio appears as one of the most promising technologies to take advantage of the spectrum dividend. In this paper, the interference problems related to cognitive radio deployment and possible solutions are discussed. Keywords cognitive radios; interference; primary service



The switch-off from analog to digital TV broadcasting services (also known as Analog-Switch-Off, ASO) will release a number of frequencies to be available for new services, as digital TV transmission requires much less spectrum. The UHF band (470-862 MHz) has been re-planned by ITU at the Regional Radio-communication Conference (RRC) in 2006, resulting in the Geneva 06 agreement GE06. According to this agreement, the ASO must be completed until 2015, while the members of the EU are called to switch to digital broadcasting earlier, until 2012. Moreover, the digital TV plan in each country implies spatially varying white spaces in certain allotments. The remaining spectrum of the digital plan as well as these white spaces is known as digital dividend. There is much debate about how this digital dividend should be exploited. On the one hand, mobile operators postulate its allocation to them, in order to introduce new devices and applications. On the other hand, broadcasters claim that it should be used to offer full high definition services or even additional services accompanying the broadcasting service (EPG, services for the disabled, etc). While mobile industry claims that there are enough frequencies for new mobile and broadcasting services, the broadcasters support that there is no digital dividend. The introduction of innovative technologies, such as Cognitive Radio (CR), is a promising solution to this intricate problem. According to [1]-[3], the assigned spectrum is often underutilized and more specifically its utilization varies in time and space domain. CR technology exploits efficiently the spectrum, utilizing only the temporarily vacant frequencies of the spectrum. In other words, CR is going to operate as an opportunistic secondary service, which takes into account the

protection of the primary service (in this case TV). Consequently, CRs are related to spectrum sensing, spectrum management, spectrum mobility and spectrum sharing techniques [4]. This opportunistic spectrum utilization requires no license to operate and has stimulated the general interest. IEEE is working on the standardization of CR technology through the IEEE 802.22 standard. As regards the latter, it has seen further research effort from many scientists [5]-[8]. ITU is also conducting research about Software Defined Radios (SDR) and Cognitive radios through WPs 5 and 8 [9]. Last but not least, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which allows unlicensed devices to operate in the licensed band of channels 2 to 51 under the condition that they do not cause any harmful interference to the licensed services [10]-[11]. II. OVERVIEW OF THE COGNITIVE RADIO SYSTEMS

A. Technological Approaches Several classifications have been made in the cognitive radio systems. The classification presented here is based on the access technology and is the most representative of the ones proposed [12]. According to it, three technological approaches of the CR have been developed; the overlay, the underlay and the interweave technique. In the underlay method, primary and secondary services can operate in the same frequency band, as long as interference caused by secondary users, remains below a certain noise threshold. In this way, the signal of the secondary service is seen as noise by the primary user, in a way that interference is controlled. This method exploits well-known spreading techniques, such as CDMA and UWB. Figure 1 presents the spectrum usage in this case. In the overlay technique, primary and secondary services coexist as well, but in a way that the primary signal level is increased by the help of the secondary signal. More specifically, part of the secondary signal is used by the secondary service, whereas the remaining part is used for increasing the primary users SNR by an amount which reflects the decline that the secondary service has caused to the primary service. Thus, in

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overlay systems, interference is avoided rather than controlled. Figure 2 presents the spectrum usage in this case. The interweave approach [13] exploits opportunistically the frequency spectrum. In this case, the vacant or underutilized (temporally or geographically) areas of the radio spectrum are going to accommodate the secondary service. Interweaving CRs scan the spectrum bands periodically and detect the vacant channels, so as to operate in them without affecting the primary service.

time intervals [14], so that the primary service is protected. The system model is illustrated in Figure 3, which consists of the primary service BS, the CR BS and several CPEs.

Figure 3. Typical CR network topology



Figure 1. Underlay system

In this section, a categorization of potential interference from CR entities to the primary service is described. Furthermore, the self-coexistence interference problem between CR networks is discussed. A. Interference caused by the Cognitive Radio Base Station At first, we assume that the primary BS and the CR BS operate in the same channel. Provided that a CR BS would not be allowed to operate in the same frequency as the primary service if it is located inside its coverage area, we analyze the case where the CR BS is located outside the primary service coverage area. As shown in Figure 4, if the CR BS is placed close enough to the primary service coverage area, the CR BS interferes with the primary BS. This would result in reduction in the coverage radius of the primary service. Lets assume that the coverage area of the TV service is defined by radius R. The points close to the edge of the coverage area experience low levels of the primary signal, which are close to the threshold that fulfils the service requirements. This means that even low levels of the interfering signal can cause damage to the coverage area, resulting in a smaller coverage area, defined by radius R< R. In a more realistic situation, coverage availability is supposed to happen with probability x% of the time and y% of the space. Moreover, the probability is close to the threshold near the boundaries. Consequently, the regular occupation of the specific channel would result in coverage losses. It is then vital that the CR BS and the primary BS are placed in sufficient distance to avoid interference, when it comes to the operation in the same frequency channel. Thus, the separation distances of each BS have to be carefully selected, taking into consideration their transmission power.

Figure 2. Overlay system

B. System Model The cognitive radio system model described in this section is based on the IEEE 802.22 standard. It consists of a base station (BS), which plays the role of a centralized controller, and several CR devices or customer premise equipments (CPE). The communication between BS and CPEs is performed via a negotiated common control channel. The BS performs several tasks including the definition of the CPEs to be admitted in its network, the assignment of different data channels per CPE, etc. Additionally, the BS decides the transmission characteristics of the CPEs. To coordinate its work, the BS combines the information gathered by its own sensing mechanism and the one performed by the CPEs in order to build the spectrum map of its region, which indicates the vacant channels for secondary network operation. Sensing is conducted on regular and frequent

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by the proper selection of several factors, such as the transmit power of CPEs and the allowable frequency separation.

Figure 4. Interference caused by the CR BS

In addition, when the CR BS operates in a channel other than that of the primary BS, it could be placed in a closer distance to the primary BS. Generally the first adjacent channels are regarded as taboo channels and are likely to cause interference, too. Here, there is much research to be conducted regarding the allowable CR signal level, as well as the frequency distances from the primarily operating channels. In any case, an effective sensing mechanism is required, so that the primary service is detected. This is the scope of distributed sensing techniques, performed jointly by the CR BS and CPEs. However, in case the CR BS distance from the primary BS is such that the CR BS cannot detect it, the only way for the primary BS to be detected is by a CPE. But, unless a CPE is located close enough to the coverage area edge, the primary BS will be interfered by the CR BS, without it being aware. Once there is such a CPE and the primary signal is detected, the CR BS is responsible for assigning an alternative frequency which results in no interference. B. Interference caused by CPEs Apart from the CR BS, interference to the primary service can be caused by the CPEs too, as they transmit in the uplink, in order to communicate with the BS. We again assume that CPEs use the same channel as the primary service and are located inside the primary service coverage area, being controlled by a CR BS located outside the primary service coverage area. As illustrated in Figure 5, CPEs transmitting much lower power (ERP) than the CR BS, would cause primary service coverage holes in the area around them. The uplink signal of the CPEs is locally high enough to cause interference, but not in an extended area. Lets assume that primary service coverage is required for x% of the time and y% of the space. At points where the temporal or spatial probability is close to x or y respectively, the existence of the CPE would cause these probabilities to fall below the specified thresholds, resulting in coverage loss. Thus, the resulting coverage loss is distributed along the TV coverage area. Furthermore, the location of a CPE can be unpredictable, in cases where CPE mobility is supported. In case that the CPEs operate in a different channel from the primary service, such interference is less possible, unless the CPE makes use of an adjacent channel. Yet, this can be avoided,

Figure 5. Interference caused by CPEs

C. The Hidden Incumbent Problem As mentioned earlier, prior to CR operation, distributed sensing both by the CR BS and CPEs is performed. The BS gathers the sensing information of the CPEs and decides which frequencies are available. However, it is likely that sensing fails. In addition, distributed sensing implies that the existence of a primary BS may not be perceptible by the CR BS, but only by one or more CPEs. Assuming that this is the case and additionally the primary BS is detected only by CPEs, operating in the communication channel of the CR system, which is the same as the primary service channel. These CPEs cannot use this channel any more, as it was found occupied. In addition, due to the centralized nature of the CR system, they cannot choose any other frequency to inform the BS. Thus, there is no way for the CR BS to realize the existence of the primary service, as the CPEs stop transmitting in this communication channel, so the BS continues to use this channel, resulting in interference to the primary service. This phenomenon is known as the hidden incumbent problem. As depicted in Figure 6, the sensing region of the CR BS is limited compared to A, as the primary signal level is not high enough to reach the CR BS. A primary user (TV) operates inside the coverage area of the CR BS but outside the sensing region of the BS in the same frequency as the BS transmits. The CPE, which detects the primary service, is incapable of communicating with the BS. As a result, the primary user is interfered with the CR BS.

Figure 6. Hidden incumbent problem

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D. Self-coexistence So far, the interference analysis was focused on the protection of the primary service. Apart from that, providing ensured secondary service is also mandatory. Provided that the primary service is ensured, the CR system should provision the unharmed operation of the secondary service. In this direction, an important issue to be taken into account is the self-coexistence. It is possible that some of the available channels for the CR operation are common among neighboring CR BSs. Depending on the spectrum allocation map of each BS, it is also likely that neighboring CPEs, which belong to different CR networks are given the same frequency channel to transmit. As a result, interference between them is also possible. This situation is illustrated in Figure 7, where the neighboring CR BSs A and B allow the corresponding CPEs A and B to operate on the same channel, which is characterized as unoccupied by the primary service.

defined communication channel to inform the BS about the primary service existence, they will be able to do so in the next two seconds. Moreover, [8] indicates a coordinated hopping behavior of neighboring CPEs in order to utilize efficiently the frequency spectrum and avoid mutual interference. By using an updated version of the CBP, DFH succeeds in the selfcoexistence issue. B. Base Station Coexistence Algorithm In [16], a spectrum allocation algorithm based on the graph coloring problem is presented. It is referred to the unoccupied spectrum being shared among neighboring BSs. The introduction of such an algorithm solves the problem of self-coexistence, as different part of the spectrum is allocated to nearby BSs so that interference is avoided. In parallel, the spectrum utilization is increased. Moreover, another enhancement is proposed to tackle the hidden incumbent problem. Instead of one single communication channel between BSs and CPEs, multiple channels are utilized for inter-communication purposes. This means that when a CPE has detected the presence of primary service in a communication channel, it can inform the BS via another communication channel. Here, attention is to be drawn, so that the number of multiple channels does not limit the number of the candidate channels to be used by CPEs. V. CONCLUSION

Figure 7. Self-coexistence problem

In the 802.22 draft, the introduction of the Coexistence Beacon Protocol (CBP) is proposed as a method of inter-cell communication of CR BSs. Neighboring BSs schedule a coexistence window at the end of every MAC frame, during which they communicate transmitting CBPs. IV. PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

Cognitive radio is a promising technology which claims to allow unlicensed services in the ASO TV bands. However, before such a technology is launched in the market, it is essential to ensure the protection of the primary service (TV). Further research needs to be conducted, so that transmission power thresholds for coexistence with the primary service are asserted. Moreover, native problems of CRs, such as self-coexistence and the hidden incumbent problem, need to be further studied.

Several solutions have been proposed so far to mitigate the above problems. In the following, some representative examples are presented. REFERENCES A. Dynamic Frequency Hopping In IEEE 802.22 standard, a dynamic frequency hopping (DFH) approach has been proposed [15]. More specifically, in the DFH mode, the CR system hops over a set of channels. While CPEs operate on a specific channel, sensing is performed simultaneously on the potential next working channels which are different from the current one. As sensing takes place every two seconds, at the end of every sensing period a channel transition is carried out. This means that the secondary service can be provided continuously. As a result, DFH allows for delaysensitive services via CR. Apart from that, DHF offers a direct solution to the hidden incumbent problem, as the communication channel between CPEs and CR BS is dynamically updated. This way even if the trapped CPEs cannot use the previously
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