Communication through Symbol Silence: Towards Free Control Messages in Indoor WLANs
Bing Feng, Jianqing Liu, Chi Zhang and Yuguang Fang
University of Science and Technology of China, University of Florida, University of Science and Technology of China, University of Florida

Efficient design of wireless networks benefits from the exchange of control messages. However, control message itself consumes scarce channel resources. In this paper, we propose CoS (Communication through symbol Silence), a novel communication strategy that conveys control messages for free without consuming extra channel resources. CoS inserts silence symbols in data packets and leverages the intervals between inserted silence symbols to encode information. The silence symbols can be located by energy detection at the granularity of symbols and the intervals are interpreted into transmitted control messages. Based on our key insights that the channel code is under-utilized in current wireless networks and the distribution of symbol errors within a data packet is predictable in indoor wireless transmissions, the symbols erased by silence symbols are recovered by the coding redundancy that is originally used to correct symbol errors. A rate adaptation scheme is designed to dynamically adjust the rate of free control messages according to channel conditions so that the transmission of free control messages does not harm the original data throughput. We implement CoS on our software defined radio platform to validate the feasibility of CoS. The extensive results show that the control messages are delivered with close to 100% accuracy in a large SNR range. In addition, we measure the achievable capacity of free control messages in various channel conditions.