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We consider networks consisting of nodes with radios, and without any wired infrastructure, thus necessitating all communication to take place only over the shared wireless medium. The main focus of this paper is on the effect of fading in such wireless networks. We examine the attenuation regime where either the medium is absorptive, a situation which generally prevails, or the path loss exponent is greater than 3. We study the transport capacity, defined as the supremum over the set of feasible rate vectors of the distance weighted sum of rates. We consider two assumption sets. Under the first assumption set, which essentially requires only a mild time average type of bound on the fading process, we show that the transport capacity can grow no faster than O(n), where n denotes the number of nodes, even when the channel state information (CSI) is available noncausally at both the transmitters and the receivers. This assumption includes common models of stationary ergodic channels; constant, frequency-selective channels; flat, rapidly varying channels; and flat slowly varying channels. In the second assumption set, which essentially features an independence, time average of expectation, and nonzeroness condition on the fading process, we constructively show how to achieve transport capacity of Ω(n) even when the CSI is unknown to both the transmitters and the receivers, provided that every node has an appropriately nearby node. This assumption set includes common models of independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) channels; constant, flat channels; and constant, frequency-selective channels. The transport capacity is achieved by nodes communicating only with neighbors, and using only point-to-point coding. The thrust of these results is that the multihop strategy, toward which much protocol development activity is currently targeted, is appropriate for fading environments. The low attenuation regime is open.
Date of Publication: March 2005