Abstract

Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) face significant scalability challenges due to the proliferation of wide-area wireless monitoring and control systems that require thousands of sensors to be connected over long distances. Due to their short communication range, existing WSN technologies such as those based on IEEE 802.15.4 form many-hop mesh networks complicating the protocol design and network deployment. To address this limitation, we propose a scalable sensor network architecture – called Sensor Network Over White Spaces (SNOW) – by exploiting the TV white spaces. Many WSN applications need low data rate, low power operation, and scalability in terms of geographic areas and the number of nodes. The long communication range of white space radios significantly increases the chances of packet collision at the base station. We achieve scalability and energy efficiency by splitting channels into narrowband orthogonal subcarriers and enabling packet receptions on the subcarriers in parallel with a single radio. The physical layer of SNOW is designed through a distributed implementation of OFDM that enables distinct orthogonal signals from distributed nodes. Its MAC protocol handles subcarrier allocation among the nodes and transmission scheduling. We implement SNOW in GNU radio using USRP devices. Experiments demonstrate that it can correctly decode in less than 0.1ms multiple packets received in parallel at different subcarriers, thus drastically enhancing the scalability of WSN.