The Energy-Limited Capacity of Wireless Networks

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Ammar, Mostafa H.
Zegura, Ellen W.
Zhao, Wenrui
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The performance of large-scale wireless ad hoc networks is often limited by the broadcasting nature of the wireless medium and the inherent node energy constraints. While the impact of the former on network capacity has been studied extensively in the literature, the impact of energy constraints has not received as much attention. In this paper, we study the capacity limitations resulting from the energy supplies in wireless nodes. We define the energy-limited capacity of a wireless network as the maximum amount of data the network can deliver before the nodes run out of energy. This energy-limited capacity is an important parameter in networks where operating lifetime is critical, such as ad hoc networks deployed in hazardous environments and sensor networks. We study two types of static networks, networks without any infrastructure support and networks where base stations with unlimited energy are deployed to support data forwarding. We consider two kinds of traffic models motivated by ad hoc networks and sensor networks. We derive upper and lower bounds on the energy-limited capacity of these networks. While throughput has been shown to not scale with node density in static networks by previous studies, our results show that, depending on the energy consumption characteristics of wireless communication, the energy-limited capacity can scale well under both traffic models. In addition, we show that the deployment of base stations can improve the energy-limited capacity of the network, especially for networks with sensor traffic.
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