You are on page 1of 9

Cognitive Radios for Spectrum Sharing

Anant Sahai, Shridhar Mubaraq Mishra, Rahul Tandra, and Kristen Ann Woyach
Wireless systems require spectrum to operate, but interference is likely if radios in physical proximity
simultaneously operate on the same band. Therefore, spectrum is a potentially scarce resource; across
the planet today, spectrum is regulated so that most bands are allocated exclusively to a single system
licensed to use that band in any given location. However, such static spectrum allocation policies lead to
significant underuse of spectrum [1]. This can be viewed as a kind of regulatory overhead that is paid
to get reliable operation. With frequency-agile radios becoming commercially feasible within the next
5-10 years, Cognitive Radio is about making such radios smart enough to share spectrum and reduce the
regulatory overhead. This is an impending wireless revolution that draws upon many signal-processing
areas including robust detection, sensor networks, as well as the design of incentives and waveforms. This
is a short column touching on the issues; further technical details/references can be found in [2].


Right now, there is significant excitement surrounding the broadcast television bands. The Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) has started considering dynamic approaches for spectrum sharing
and the IEEE has launched the 802.22 standards process to use TV-band spectrum holes for enabling
wide-area Internet service [3], [4]. This context is illustrated in Figure 1.
The background of Figure 1 is a map of the continental USA with the shading representing the population
density. The red dots indicate the locations of all TV transmitters while the purple dots correspond to
transmitters for channel 40. The green zone on the left zooms in on the San Francisco Bay Area to show
the footprints where different stations can be received with an electric field strength above 41.19dBu for
50% of the locations more than 90% of the time. From this picture, it is clear that spectrum holes are
inevitable. Just as a vase can be filled with rocks and still have plenty of room for sand, there is always
going to be room for non-interfering radio transmissions in the interstices between channel footprints [5].
The little dark circle represents the interference footprint for channel 40 (where the interference could
exceed 2.5 times the thermal noise level of -106dBm more than 10% of the time for more than 50% of
the locations) of a hypothetical 802.22 base-station transmitting at 4W from a height of 75m. Just below,
a real spectrum scan is shown taken by our group in Berkeley. The local channels are clearly visible.
The plot along the top of Figure 1 shows the number of free television channels on a simulated drive from
Berkeley, CA to Washington, DC along Interstate 80. The upper blue curve is the size of the opportunity
based on International Telecommunications Union (ITU) models for wireless signal propagation run on
data from the FCC’s database. The lower tan curve illustrates the challenge in using cognitive radios for
spectrum sharing. The tan curve predicts the opportunities that would be identified using the current IEEE

8 0. Sampling the USA uniformly by area. In most locations.22 rule requires a sensitivity of -116 dBm. 50) . Sampling by Area CDF Power [dB/bin] 1 0. P. The current IEEE 802.22 approach of having a single cognitive radio take a channel measurement and use the channel only if it is sufficiently empty.Number of Free Channels 60 Actually available 40 20 Recovered by -116 rule 0 Recovering white space under different rules 1 Actually available by Area Actually available by Population CCDF 0. on average 56% of the 67 television channels are free while 22% can be recovered by the -116 dBm rule (the area recovered by the -116 dBm rule was calculated using the ITU F(50. the Global Land One-km Base Elevation database from the National Geophysical Data Center for the average terrain elevation (HAAT) value around each transmitter. 802.2 95km 0 -116 rule by Population 0 20 40 200km 60 Number of channels recovered Distribution of nearest TV tower 50 30 10 -10 Figure 1. While this might prevent interference to television receivers from unfortunately faded cognitive radios.6 -70 0.5 600 650 700 Frequency [MHz] 750 800 00 Sampling by Population 200 400 600 Distance [km] The nature of spectrum holes in the television bands.4 -116 rule by Area 0. channels that are actually safe to use will still be above -116 dBm for the majority of cognitive radios that are not experiencing unfortunate fading. A statistical nation-wide perspective is given by the plot overlaid on the Midwest. (Sources: the FCC TV database for the latitude/longitude/elevation/power of TV transmitters. ITU-R Rec. it does so by imposing a tremendous overhead. and the 2000 USA Census for the population figures per zip code and the polygonal models for each zip code).1546-1 for the propagation models.

4 1. the distributional uncertainty imposes additional time-overhead that goes to infinity at the wall itself. The dotted lines are without noise uncertainty and the solid ones correspond to what actually happens with noise uncertainty. of Finding a Hole log10N SNR walls with noise uncertainty = 1 dB 1 0.8 ROC curves above SNR wall SNR = -6 dB 0.3 -30 SNR [dB] -20 -13.015 km rn = 157 km Without Uncertainty 1 H0 400 Distance from TV transmitter (km) With Uncertainty = 1 dB 0.0 SNR = -2.8 1 0 0 0. The traditional signalprocessing approach is to treat this as a hypothesis-testing problem and to compute a test-statistic.4 PFA 0.8 H1 450 κ = 0.2 0.2 Support of Y N = 100 0.Time Overhead 8 4 Coherent Detector PMD = P FA= 0.2 dB 0. By increasing the amount of time N for which the test-statistic is averaged.3 0.2 0.6 0.8 0.6 0 150 200 300 -1 N= 0 0.6 Fear of Harmful Interference (F ) HI 1 Figure 2. However the problem in spectrum sensing is that the two hypotheses are themselves uncertain since we cannot completely trust probabilistic models for the noise. propagation model). the average proportion of free channels drops to 33% but the -116 dBm rule can recover only 10%.4 PFA 0.4 N = 100 Quantiles 0.6 0.2 0.2 0 ~ w(r) = exp{-κ (r .001 dB -33.6 0.rn)} 0. As the signal to noise ratio (SNR) decreases.3 -40 SNR walls with noise uncertainty = 0. This imposes a limit called the “SNR Wall” on the sensitivity beyond which a detector cannot function reliably.4 0 ROC curves below SNR wall 1 Prob. If the population is sampled instead.2 0.2 0. The cause of this can be seen in Figure 2 by examining the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) .6 N = 200 0 -5 1 N = 25 N = 50 N = 75 PMD PMD Quantiles N = 25 N = 50 N = 75 0.6 H0 H1 0.01 0 Pilot Power = 10% Coherence Time = 100 -50 -43. The plot overlaid on the Deep South shows why sampling by population makes such a difference: television towers are located near population centers.4 0. even weak television signals must be detected to avoid causing interference because the cognitive radio might just be experiencing an unfortunate fade while its own transmissions would interfere with nearby television receivers that are not faded. ROBUST SIGNAL PROCESSING AT THE SPECTRUM SENSORS : TIME AND SPACE In a single-radio approach to sensing. N = 200 0 -5 5 0 0 0.8 0.8 P Spatial Sensing Overhead (1-WPAR) Energy Detector 12 Spatial Overhead 1 0.8 1 Support of Y 5 Uncertainty leads to limits on robust spectrum sensing and overhead in both time and space. the hypotheses can traditionally be distinguished arbitrarily well.3 -10 -3.4 0.

as shown to the left of the ROC curves. but uses a weighting function w(r) to capture the probability that a point at distance r from this station belongs to the spectrum hole corresponding to this station. W HY WE NEED SPECTRUM SENSING NETWORKS : THE POWER OF COOPERATION As predicted. The SNR Wall phenomenon makes the spatial overhead go to one whenever the FHI is too low. Performance improves as the number M of independently-faded cooperating radios increases. Cooperative rules can recover a lot more area for any given channel and hence more channels at any given location. a simplified model is constructed that has just a single television station.22 standard recovers little open spectrum because it is based on single-user single-band sensing and must budget for rare fades. This calculation is illustrated in the top-right corner of Figure 2 and we can see that this spatial overhead has a natural tradeoff with the fear (denoted by FHI ) of the wireless fading uncertainty causing harmful interference to the protected television receivers. The way around this problem is to exploit the diversity that exists across different radios. The spatial overhead of a sensing algorithm is thus measured by 1 − W P AR. The possibility that all sensors . an FHI of 0. Any individual radio might be deeply faded. the two hypothesized sets of distributions for the observation Y overlap. The Achilles heel of single-band cooperation is shown in the rightmost plot of Figure 3. Reliable sensing is impossible below the SNR Wall since. the more likely it is that we are in the service area of another station (and the band is thus unsafe to use). To understand this.curves in the center. There is also a spatial component to the sensing overhead. The power of cooperative sensing is shown in the first two plots of Figure 3. the -116 dBm rule of the IEEE 802. But even ideal single-user sensing has a large spatial overhead at low values of FHI . The farther away we go.01 means that we must avoid causing interference except in the 1% worst fading events. The -116 dBm rule corresponds to an FHI ≈ 2 × 10−4 . A simple two-parameter exponential model wa (r) = aw(r) = a exp(−κ(r − rn )) can be fit to the empirical amount of the overlap (about 10%) between the no-talk regions corresponding to different stations on channel 38 as well as the total fraction of free bands (55%) in channel 38. Fading that might be correlated across users significantly increases the spatial overhead. Let rn be the no-talk radius around the television station (the sum of the protected radius shown in Figure 1 by the big television reception circles and the smaller interference footprint of the cognitive radios e themselves). For example. but it seems unlikely that all cognitive radios in the vicinity will simultaneously be deeply faded. This wa can be normalized to w and then sensing algorithms can be evaluated using the simple metric W P AR = Z ∞ rn PF H (r)w(r) rdr where WPAR stands for the “weighted probability of area recovered” and PF H (r) is the probability that a given spectrum-sensing rule finds an opportunity at a distance r from an isolated television station.

0 FHI= 0.01 0. But certifying the correctness of an implementation of a dynamic protocol that finds neighbors and cooperates with them in the field seems very difficult. An alternative is to move towards light-handed regulations with minimalist certification and let natural incentives dictate that rational users will not want to cause harmful interference.4 M=5 M = 10 0. This has the potential to largely eliminate the fear of correlated fading and the resulting spatial overhead [5].WPAR) Cooperation 1. For example. The OR rule only requires limited information about the fading distribution. While wireless multipath fading is largely independent for physical reasons.116 dBm rule (channel 38) M=2 0. it is also correlated across frequencies for a single radio! For example. For single-user sensing.6 0.4 OR rule 0.0 M = 10 0.4 0 0. everyone might go inside when it rains. The challenge here is to decide what to certify.6 Empirical performance under . there must be a way to certify the radios and have assurance that they will behave well in the field.0 0 10 10 1 10 2 10 Number of Cooperating Users (M) 3 Spatial Sensing Overhead (1. multiband sensing can identify and combine sensing information only from those users who are not experiencing severe shadowing. However. While shadowing may be correlated across radios. an indoor user will be shadowed relative to television stations and GPS satellites.2 0.70 dBm.8 0.2 ML rule 0.5 Figure 3. this appears to be insurmountable. one could imagine certifying a cognitive radio if it has the appropriate sensitivity and only uses the band when the sensor approves. By exploiting this correlation.2 0. I NCENTIVES AND REGULATION For cognitive radios to move out of the lab. are simultaneously faded cannot be ruled out by mere averaging across sensors.0 -4 10 10 -3 -2 10 -1 10 10 0 Fear of Harmful Interference (FHI) Understanding the promise/pitfalls of cooperative spectrum sensing.8 Spatial Sensing Overhead (1. std.mean= -120 dBm. M=1 0.0 -4 10 10 -3 -2 10 -1 10 Fear of Harmful Interference (FHI) 10 0 Scaling 1. shadowing can be correlated across radios.6 0. A radio is just certified to obey .2 0.WPAR) 0.WPAR) mean= . At first glance. dev =2.8 Correlation uncertainty 0. Figure 4 shows an approach in which cognitive techniques are viewed as “bandwidth amplifiers” that allow a radio to stake its own home band in order to potentially gain access to many other empty bands.0 Correlation Uncertainty 1.8 0. the cartoon at the left of Figure 3 illustrates a key insight.5 0. The Maximum Likelihood (ML) rule uses the average signal power across different sensors as its test statistic and hence requires complete knowledge of the fading distribution [5]. std. dev =1 Spatial Sensing Overhead (1. The OR rule declares the channel to be occupied whenever any of the radios declares the primary to be present.

β It is not worth expanding beyond a certain point since the utility gained from additional bands would be offset by the increasing time spent in jail due to the few inevitable wrongful convictions.1 Expansion 12 Expansion Out of jail.1 0 0.5 Ppen Pcatch = 1 Pcatch = 0.1 False Alarm Cheat Legal TX Pwrong = 0. Util. The bottom right corner of Figure 4 shows the maximal bandwidth expansion as a function of P wrong and the probability P catch of being caught when truly cheating. a timeline is shown in which a cognitive radio is caught and sent to jail.5 Pcatch = 0. Bands available Utility = β 1 No Cheat In jail.4 0. a Markov chain is shown for modeling the behavior of the licensed users in different bands as well as the cognitive radio’s choice to cheat or not to cheat.1 Ppen No TX q1 B=3 0 Cognitive h Avg Use without Cog.55 Pcatch = 1 0. Band 2. Once P pen is set./step = β Cog. The top right of Figure 4 shows how the sentences must get harsher as either the temptation (number of bands B) increases or as the probability P wrong of wrongful conviction increases.035 β=1 Pcatch = 1 Pcatch = 0.5 q No Cog. Band available Utility = β + 1 TX Legal TX Secondary Pc g ron Ppen Ptx = 0.5 10 Pwrong = 0./step = 1 Cog.1 0. Band B pN Pwrong = .5 Cognitive radios for bandwidth expansion by selfish users.2 Ppen to incentivize no cheating 1 0.005 16 Pwrong = 0.5 Pcatch = 0.1 0.5 Fraction of time in jail 1 Pca 40 0. user = 4/9 Avg Use with Cog.03 0 0 Global Jail 0 Overhead cost of bandwidth expansion 10 Expansion 30 20 Maximal bandwidth expansion 20 Pcatch = 1 Pwrong = 0.5 0. On the left-hand side of Figure 4.4 Ptx = 0. Bands available Utility = β + 2 Figure 4.1 0. Use only Home Utility = β Cheat on unavailable Cog. No use of Home or Cog.3 Maximal Expansion 4 Pcatch = 0.3 0. P pen controls how long the jail sentences are. including its own home band.03 0 1 2 4 Expansion 8 6 10 Utility of the cognitive user 1 3 Utility 2 t ch ng Pwro 0. This command is issued when the radio is caught cheating (causing interference). a wireless command to “go to jail” for a period of time during which it loses access to all bands.02 20 Pwrong scales with expansion Pcatch = 1 8 Pwrong = 0. there is an overhead due to .5 0 0.2 Overhead 0.3 0.2 Pwrong 0./step = 0 Home Band. user = (6β+5)/9 at c One Cog.Pwrong 0. Util.06 Pwrong = 0.1 Ptx = 0. Band Utility = β + 2 Band 3 Band 2 Band 1 Primary Global Jail.55 Pcatch = 1 Pwrong = 0.4 0.001 In jail Utility = 0 Pwrong = 0. user = 6/9 Avg Utility for Cog. Util. Use only Home Utility = β Time No TX qN Ppen to incentivize no cheating 1 Primary TX Home and Two Cog.01 30 Ptx = 0. the cognitive user can calculate its expected utility from an expansion factor of B . no Cog. Bands Utility = 0 In jail Utility = 0 False Alarm p Ptx = q/(q+p) Cheat Pw False alarm on Band 2.55 Ptx = 0. Band 1.9 Ptx = 0. Bands free. However./step = 1 No Cheat Pcatch = 1 Pcatch = 0. Util. The fear of prison must be high enough to keep the selfish radios honest [6]. In the top left.55 0.

radios that tried to use beamforming to avoid causing interference would have their hopes dashed by the interference caused by their government-mandated omnidirectional beacons.4 50% 0.005 Minimum enforcement overhead 1000 Enforcement overhead Percentage increase in Primary errors TX Identity: Band 3 0.. For example. we need license plates to balance the freedom of drivers with the requirements of the community.1 0 200% increase in primary errors 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 Time steps until conviction 10000 Time steps until conviction = 3000 0. but also rule out any approach that involved a real-time market for wireless spectrum [7].5%.9 Pwrong = 0. However. Figure 4 reveals that P wrong needs to be about 1% if P catch = 1. How can a toll road be sustained without any toll booths or controlled on-ramps? The answer is clear: whether it is a public highway or a toll road.3 Catch coalition of 4 0. the required P wrong must be a very stringent 0.9.5 5% background error in Primary link Pcatch = 0.2 Catch coalition of 3 0.4 0. users being wrongfully convicted and thereby being unable to use either their own bands or true spectrum holes. To keep the wrongful conviction overhead below 10%. this would require the government to mandate a single beacon waveform to be broadcast by all cognitive radios. it would also stop certain socially desirable approaches from working at all. This was described vividly by Faulhaber as the problem of “hit and run radios” that he feared would not only preclude the potential commercial impact of cognitive radios. The most straightforward approach would be to require the broadcast of an explicit identity beacon. a potential expansion into all 67 of the 6 MHz TV bands by a user staking a single large WiMAX channel of 20 MHz requires a bandwidth expansion of about 20. At a more realistic P catch of 0. The tradeoff between this overhead and bandwidth expansion is shown in the bottom left of Figure 4. This leads us directly to the second regulatory requirement: a way to reliably identify the source of harmful interference.2 100% 0.3 65% 0. Each radio has a unique fingerprint of time-slots that it is not allowed . regardless of their own native waveforms. Cannot transmit TX Identity: Band 2 800 600 400 Overhead = 5% Overhead = 10% 200 0 Overhead = 25% 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 Time steps until conviction Figure 5. 10000 0.5 0. For example. Figure 5 shows another approach. Wireless identity certification involves the design of the radios’ waveforms so that appropriate signal processing can recover their identity.1 Catch coalition of 2 0 10 2 10 3 10 5 10 4 Number of users 10 6 10 7 Identity fingerprints for cognitive radios. Not only would this be an added expense..Network ID User ID × Device ID TX Identity: Band 1 .

and K. Nov. Mishra. and Sumitomo Electric for their and his students Mubaraq Mishra (smm@eecs.” Federal Communications Commission. the user is blocked from exploiting a spectrum opportunity [8]. this “identity code” might be a composite of many different aspects (e. 02-135. the human user. the physical device.berkeley. The two bottom left plots in Figure 5 illustrate the tradeoffs between the time to catch a cheater and the level of interference that the licensed users want to guard against. AUTHORS Prof. the network.berkeley. But if the level of interference is low. everything will have to be put together in a balanced way in order to realize the true potential of this wireless revolution.berkeley. CA to Washington DC. The overhead imposed by the code is the proportion of slots that must be left silent because during this time. [2] A. Sahai. “Extended Edition: Cognitive radios for spectrum sharing. Woyach. S. Rahul Tandra (tandra@eecs. This code can easily be certified in the hardware without constraining the detailed waveforms at the packet level.) of the identity. As shown in the top of Figure 5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We thank the National Science Foundation (grants ANI-326503. C2S2 (Center for Circuit System Solutions). C ONCLUSIONS The signal processing issues involved in cognitive radios are quite diverse and have led us on a figurative journey from Berkeley. no.berkeley. convicting a suspect is hard unless we are willing to tolerate a lot of overhead. but it has the property that any radio causing harmful interference will leave its fingerprints behind in the pattern of interference itself. The overhead increases with the number of identities as well as with the size of the coalitions of simultaneous cheaters. A holistic SP perspective shows that while the goal of reducing the regulatory overhead is admirable. CCF-729122 as well as a Graduate Research Fellowship). R EFERENCES [1] “Spectrum policy task force report. R.g. Anant Sahai ( are all with the EECS Department at UC Berkeley.” Tech Report in use in each band. CNS-403427. Tandra. . It is easy to catch systems that cause a lot of interference. A. Being able to convict more than one cheater is important to deter the wireless equivalent of looting wherein one cheater will induce everyone else to cheat as well. and Kristen Woyach (kwoyach@eecs. 2008. The bottom right plot in Figure 5 shows information-theoretic lower bounds on the overhead required if the time is constrained to 3000 slots (half a minute if each slot is ten milliseconds long). 2002.

” Master’s thesis.” Proceedings of the 3rd IEEE International Symposium on New Frontiers in Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks. Woyach. “Spectrum Enforcement and Liability Assignment in Cognitive Radio Systems. A. Saligrama. S. M.” Federal Communications Commission. no. pp 256-271. Sep. “What is a spectrum hole and what does it take to recognize one?” To appear in the Proceedings of the IEEE. September 2005.[3] “Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands. Sahai. 2006. [8] G. R. Stevenson. First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Tandra. vol 18. “The future of wireless telecommunications: spectrum as a critical resource. “Crime and punishment for cognitive radios. Oct. C. Chicago IL.22 WRAN standard. and G. Faulhaber. Oct.” Information Economics and Policy. Chouinard. and V. Atia. UC Berkeley.” Tech. Rep. [5] R. 3. Sofer. Jan 2009. E. 2008. A. and A.. “Functional requirements for the IEEE 802. R. Mishra. . [4] C. Cordeiro. [7] G. [6] K. 2008. Sahai. 2006. 06-156.