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A Cross-Layer Perspective on Rateless Coding for Wireless Channels

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2 Author(s)
Courtade, T.A. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA ; Wesel, R.D.

Rateless coding ensures reliability by providing ever-increasing redundancy, traditionally at the packet level (i.e. the application layer) through erasure coding. This paper explores whether additional redundancy for wireless channels is most helpful at the packet level through erasure coding or at the physical layer through lower-rate channel coding. This cross-layer trade-off is explored in a traditional wireless setting where the communication of a message consisting of a fixed number of packets takes place over a Rayleigh fading channel. The examined scenarios include both a single receiver and multiple cooperating receivers allowing the results to be extended to situations where selection diversity is available in the system. For several interesting scenarios, this paper determines the optimal trade-off between the amount of packet-level erasure coding and physical-layer channel coding required to provide reliable communication over the widest range of operating SNR's. Our results indicate that packet-level erasure coding can provide a significant benefit when no other form of diversity is available. In many cases, the amount of redundancy that should be allocated to such erasure coding is nearly constant, and further redundancy (i.e. any rateless coding) should be applied to the physical layer.

Published in:

Communications, 2009. ICC '09. IEEE International Conference on

Date of Conference:

14-18 June 2009