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Increasing the lifetime of wireless sensors is essential for the proliferation of wireless sensor networks in various environments. In this paper, the relationship between bandwidth and energy consumption is exploited to increase the lifetime of the sensors. A variable bandwidth allocation scheme that uses time-frequency slot assignment is proposed to reduce the energy consumption of a collaborative sensor network which has large spatial variation in node density and event rates. To assign the time-frequency slots to the sensor network, a novel algorithm is presented, which results in significant energy savings over the conventional constant bandwidth allocation scheme.