Optimal physical carrier sense in wireless networks

Kyung Joon Park, Jihyuk Choi, Jennifer C. Hou, Yih Chun Hu, Hyuk Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We investigate the problem of maximizing Medium Access Control (MAC) throughput in Carrier Sense Multiple Access (CSMA) wireless networks. By explicitly incorporating the carrier sense threshold and the transmit power into our analysis, we derive an analytical relation between MAC throughput and system parameters. In homogeneous networks, we derive the optimal carrier sense range at a given node density as a function of the ratio between the transmit power and the carrier sense threshold. The obtained optimal carrier sense range is smaller than that for covering the entire interference range, which is in sharp contrast to what has been considered to be optimal in previous studies. Only when the node density goes to infinity, the optimal carrier sense range converges to that for exactly covering the interference range, thereby eliminating all the hidden nodes. For nonhomogeneous networks, any distributed algorithm for tuning the carrier sense threshold, in which each node tries to maximize its own throughput without coordination, may significantly degrade MAC throughput. In order to properly design a distributed algorithm, each node not only considers its own throughput, but also needs to take account of its adverse impact on others. Our analysis is verified by simulation studies under various network scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-27
Number of pages12
JournalAd Hoc Networks
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Carrier Sense Multiple Access
  • Exposed node problem
  • Hidden node problem
  • Spatial reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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