Coexistence Gaps in Space: Cross-Technology Interference-Nulling for Improving LTE-U/WiFi Coexistence
To avoid the foreseeable spectrum crunch, LTE operators have started to explore the option to directly use 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum band being used by IEEE 802.11 (WiFi). However, as LTE is not designed with shared spectrum access in mind, there is a major issue of coexistence with WiFi networks. Current coexistence schemes to be deployed at the LTE-U BS create coexistence gaps only in one domain (e.g., time, frequency, or space) and can provide only incremental gains due to the lack of coordination among the coexisting WiFi and LTE-U networks. Therefore, we propose a coordinated coexistence scheme which relies on cooperation between neighboring LTE-U and WiFi networks. Our proposal suggests that LTE-U BSs equipped with multiple antennas can create coexistence gaps in space domain in addition to the time domain gaps by means of cross-technology interference nulling towards WiFi nodes in the interference range. In return, LTE-U can increase its own airtime utilization while trading off slightly its antenna diversity. The cooperation offers benefits to both LTE-U and WiFi in terms of improved throughput and decreased channel access delay. More specifically, system-level simulations reveal a throughput gain up to 221% for LTE-U network and 44% for WiFi network depending on the setting, e.g., the distance between the two cell, number of LTE antennas, and WiFi users in the LTE-U BS neighborhood. Our proposal provides significant benefits especially for moderate separation distances between LTE-U/WiFi cells where interference from a neighboring network might be severe due to the hidden network problem.