CONIX Publication

Charm: Exploiting Geographical Diversity Through Coherent Combining in Low-Power Wide-Area Networks

Authors: Adwait Dongare, Anh Luong, Anthony Rowe, Artur Balanuta, Akshay Gadre, Revathy Narayanan, Swarun Kumar, Bob Iannucci


Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) are an emerging wireless platform which can support battery-powered devices lasting 10-years while communicating at low data-rates to gateways several kilometers away. Not all such devices will experience the promised 10 year battery life despite the high density of LPWAN gateways expected in cities. Transmission from devices located deep within buildings or in remote neighborhoods will suffer severe attenuation forcing the use of slow data-rates to reach even the closest gateway, thus resulting in battery drain. This paper presents Charm, a system that enhances both the battery life of client devices and the coverage of LPWANs in large urban deployments. Charm allows multiple LoRaWAN gateways to pool their received signals in the cloud, coherently combining them to detect weak signals that are not decodable at any individual gateway. Through a novel hardware and software design at the gateway, Charm carefully detects which chunks of the received signal need to be sent to the cloud, thereby saving uplink bandwidth. We present a scalable solution to decoding weak transmissions at city-scale by identifying the set of gateways whose signals need to be coherently combined over time. In evaluations over a test network and from simulations using traces from a large LoRaWAN deployment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Charm demonstrates a gain of up to 3x in range and 4x in client battery-life.

Release Date: 04/10/2018
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