Beyond the Bits: Cooperative Packet Recovery Using Physical Layer Information
Wireless networks can suffer from high packet loss rates. This paper shows that the loss rate can be significantly reduced by exposing information readily available at the physical layer. We make the physical layer convey an estimate of its confidence that a particular bit is ``0'' or ``1'' to the higher layers. When used with cooperative design, this information dramatically improves the throughput of the wireless network. Access points that hear the same transmission combine their information to correct bits in a packet with minimal overhead. Similarly, a receiver may combine multiple erroneous transmissions to recover a correct packet. We analytically prove that our approach minimizes the errors in packet recovery. We also experimentally demonstrate its benefits using a testbed of GNU software radios. The results show that our approach can reduce loss rate by up to 10x in comparison with the current approach, and significantly outperforms prior cooperation proposals.