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This paper compares and analyzes the performance of distributed cophasing techniques for uplink transmission over wireless sensor networks. We focus on a time-division duplexing approach, and exploit the channel reciprocity to reduce the channel feedback requirement. We consider periodic broadcast of known pilot symbols by the fusion center (FC), and maximum likelihood estimation of the channel by the sensor nodes for the subsequent uplink cophasing transmission. We assume carrier and phase synchronization across the participating nodes for analytical tractability. We study binary signaling over frequency-flat fading channels, and quantify the system performance such as the expected gains in the received signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and the average probability of error at the FC, as a function of the number of sensor nodes and the pilot overhead. Our results show that a modest amount of accumulated pilot SNR is sufficient to realize a large fraction of the maximum possible beamforming gain. We also investigate the performance gains obtained by censoring transmission at the sensors based on the estimated channel state, and the benefits obtained by using maximum ratio transmission (MRT) and truncated channel inversion (TCI) at the sensors in addition to cophasing transmission. Simulation results corroborate the theoretical expressions and show the relative performance benefits offered by the various schemes.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2011