Skip to Main Content
In this paper, we consider medium access control (MAC) protocol design for random-access cognitive radio (CR) networks. A two-level opportunistic spectrum access strategy is proposed to optimize the system performance of the secondary network and to adequately protect the operation of the primary network. At the first level, secondary users (SUs) maintain a sufficient detection probability to avoid interference with primary users (PUs), and the spectrum sensing time is optimized to control the total traffic rate of the secondary network allowed for random access when the channel is detected to be available. At the second level, two MAC protocols called the slotted cognitive radio ALOHA (CR-ALOHA) and cognitive-radio-based carrier-sensing multiple access (CR-CSMA) are developed to deal with the packet scheduling of the secondary network. We employ normalized throughput and average packet delay as the network metrics and derive closed-form expressions to evaluate the performance of the secondary network for our proposed protocols. Moreover, we use the interference and agility factors as the performance parameters to measure the protection effects on the primary network. For various frame lengths and numbers of SUs, the optimal performance of throughput and delay can be achieved at the same spectrum sensing time, and there also exists a tradeoff between the achievable performance of the secondary network and the effects of protection on the primary network. Simulation results show that the CR-CSMA protocol outperforms the slotted CR-ALOHA protocol and that the PUs' activities have an influence on the performance of SUs for both the slotted CR-ALOHA and CR-CSMA.