Defending wireless sensor networks from radio interference through channel adaptation

Wenyuan Xu, Wade Trappe, Yanyong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Radio interference, whether intentional or otherwise, represents a serious threat to assuring the availability of sensor network services. As such, techniques that enhance the reliability of sensor communications in the presence of radio interference are critical. In this article, we propose to cope with this threat through a technique called channel surfing, whereby the sensor nodes in the network adapt their channel assignments to restore network connectivity in the presence of interference. We explore two different approaches to channel surfing: coordinated channel switching, in which the entire sensor network adjusts its channel; and spectral multiplexing, in which nodes in a jammed region switch channels and nodes on the boundary of a jammed region act as radio relays between different spectral zones. For coordinated channel switching, we examine an autonomous strategy where each node detects the loss of its neighbors in order to initiate channel switching. To cope with latency issues in the autonomous strategy, we propose a broadcast-assisted channel switching strategy to more rapidly coordinate channel switching. For spectral multiplexing, we have devised both synchronous and asynchronous strategies to facilitate the scheduling of nodes in order to improve network fidelity when sensor nodes operate on multiple channels. In designing these algorithms, we have taken a system-oriented approach that has focused on exploring actual implementation issues under realistic network settings. We have implemented these proposed methods on a testbed of 30 Mica2 sensor nodes, and the experimental results show that channel surfing, in its various forms, is an effective technique for repairing network connectivity in the presence of radio interference, while not introducing significant performance-overhead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalACM Transactions on Sensor Networks
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Channel Surfing
  • Jamming
  • Radio Interference


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