Cognitive radio: survey on communication protocols, spectrum decision issues, and future research directions



Currently, the radio spectrum is statically allocated and divided between licensed and unlicensed frequencies. Due to this inflexible policy, some frequency bands are growing in scarcity, while large portions of the entire radio spectrum remain unused independently of time and location. Cognitive Radio is a recent network paradigm that aims a more flexible and efficient usage of the radio spectrum. Basically, it allows wireless devices to opportunistically access portions of the entire radio spectrum without causing any harmful interference to licensed users. The present document surveys the literature on Cognitive Radio. It aims to provide a comprehensive and self-contained description of this research topic area, mainly focusing on communication protocols, spectrum decision issues, and future research directions. It is a tutorial in nature and consequently does not require any previous knowledge about Cognitive Radio. Readers are only required to have some general background on wireless data networks. Emphasis is put on Cognitive Radio genesis, issues that must be addressed, related technologies, standardization efforts, the state of the art, and future research directions according to the vision of the authors.


Cognitive radio, Dynamic spectrum access, Medium access control, Spectrum decision


Cognitive Radio


Wireless Networks, Vol. 18, #2, pp. 147-164, Springer, February 2012

Cited by

Year 2017 : 19 citations

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 Pandit, S., & Singh, G. (2017). Capacity Limits Over Fading Environment with Imperfect Channel State Information for Cognitive Radio Networks. In Spectrum Sharing in Cognitive Radio Networks (pp. 177-199). Springer International Publishing.

 Gao, Z., Chen, D., Yao, N., Lu, Z., Chen, B., & Tan, G. (2017). Outage Probability of Cognitive Selective DF Relay Networks with Multiple Primary Nodes and Heterogenous Non-Identical Constraints. Wireless Personal Communications, 92(3), 969-992.

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Year 2016 : 9 citations

 A. Homayounzadeh and M. Mahdavi, “Improving Voice-Service Support in Cognitive Radio Networks”, ETRI Journal, vol. 38, n.º 3, pp. 444-454, 2016.

 N. Giweli, S. Shahrestani, and H. Cheung, “Selection of Spectrum Sensing Method to Enhance QoS in Cognitive Radio Networks”, International Journal of Wireless & Mobile Networks (IJWMN), vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 39-50, 2016.

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 V. Bassoo, and N. Khedun, “Improving the quality of service for users in cognitive radio network using priority queueing analysis”, IET Communications, vol. 10, n.º 9, pp. 1063-1070, 2016.

 S. A. A. Shah, E. Ahmed, F. Xia, A. Karim, M. Shiraz, and R. Noor, “Adaptive Beaconing Approaches for Vehicular ad hoc Networks: A Survey”, 2016, arXiv preprint arXiv:1605.07329.

 M. Hawa, A. AlAmmouri, A. Alhiary, and N. Alhamad, “Distributed opportunistic spectrum sharing in cognitive radio networks”, International Journal of Communication Systems, 2016, doi: 10.1002/dac.3147.

 F. Lin, C. Chen, T. He, K. Ma, and X. Guan, “A separation principle for resource allocation in industrial wireless sensor networks”, Wireless Networks, pp. 1-14, 2016, doi: 10.1007/s11276-015-1188-5.

 Z. Gao, D. Chen, N. Yao, Z. Lu, B. Chen, and G. Tan, “Outage Probability of Cognitive Selective DF Relay Networks with Multiple Primary Nodes and Heterogeneous Non-Identical Constraints”, Wireless Personal Communications, 2016, doi: 10.1007/s11277-016-3587-z.

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Year 2015 : 18 citations

 S. Wang, Y. Lu, and D. Li, “Linear Precoding based on Minimum Mean Square Error in MISO Downlink Cognitive Radio Network”, International Conference on Electronic Science and Automation Control, ESAC 2015, pp. 316-322, 2015, doi:10.2991/esac-15.2015.77.

 A. Khader, A. Reja, A. Hussein, and M. Beg, “Cooperative Spectrum Sensing Improvement Based on Fuzzy Logic System”, Procedia Computer Science, vol. 58, pp. 34-41, 2015.

 C. Hernández, I. Páez, and D. Giral, “AHP-VIKOR Model for Spectrum Handoff in Cognitive Radio Networks”, Tecnura, vol. 19, n.º 45, pp. 29-39, 2015

 R. L. Ujjwal and K. U. Bhargavi, “State-based probabilistic spectrum sensing in Cognitive Radio Networks”, 2015 IEEE International Conference on Advance Computing, IACC, pp. 88-94, 2015.

 P. Wang, J. Ansari, M. Petrova, and P. Mähönen, “CogMAC+: A Decentralized MAC Protocol for Opportunistic Spectrum Access in Cognitive Wireless Networks”, Computer Communications, 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.comcom.2015.09.016.

 E. Shahab, “Impact of Spectrum Sensing and Primary User Activity on MAC Delay in Cognitive Radio Networks”, International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, vol. 13, n.º 12, 2015.

 K. Kumar, A. Prakash, and R. Tripathi, "Spectrum Handoff in Cognitive Radio Networks: A Classification and Comprehensive Survey", Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.jnca.2015.10.008

 V. C. FERREIRA, R. C. CARRANO, B. PERES, “ Solution for spectrum monitoring of the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands”, 2015 IEEE Latin American Network Operations and Management Symposium, LANOMS, pp. 49-55, 2015.

 E. Koski and J. Weston, “Efficient high-fidelity simulation of HF communications systems and networks”, 2015 IEEE Military Communications Conference, MILCOM 2015, pp. 1460-1466, 2015.

 N. Giweli, S. Shahrestani, and J. Cheung, “Spectrum Sensing in Cognitive Radio Networks: QoS Considerations”, Seventh International Conference on Networks & Communications, NETCOM - 2015, pp. 9-19, 2015.

 E. Tsiropoulou, A. Kapoukakis, and S. Papavassiliou, “Uplink Resource Allocation in SC-FDMA Wireless Networks: A Survey and Taxonomy”, Computer Networks, 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.comnet.2015.12.006.

 X. Chen and S. Ouyang, “Energy-and Spectral-Efficiency Trade-Off in OFDMA-Based Cooperative Cognitive Radio Networks”, International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, vol. 2014, 2014, doi: 10.1155/2014/782648.

 Y. Zhao, S. Jin, and W. Yue, “Adjustable Admission Control with Threshold in Centralized CR Networks: Analysis and Optimization“, Journal of Industrial and Management Optimization, vol. 11, n.º 4, pp. 1393-1408, 2015.

 A. Khader, M. Mainuddin, and M. Beg, “Improve the Performance of Cooperative Spectrum Sensing Using Hopping Sequence Scheme”, Theory and Applications of Applied Electromagnetics, Springer International Publishing, vol. 344, pp. 105-117, 2015.

 Y. Zhao, S Jin, and W. Yue, “An Adjustable Channel Bonding Strategy in Centralized Cognitive Radio Networks and its Performance Optimization”, Quality Technology & Quantitative Management, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 291-310, 2015.

 K. Karunambiga and M. Sundarambal, “LU-MAC: Licensed and Unlicensed MAC Protocol for Cognitive WiFi Network with Jamming-resistant”, Procedia Computer Science, vol. 47, pp. 424-433, 2015.

 P. Mach, Z. Becvar, and T. Vanek, "In-Band Device-to-Device Communication in OFDMA Cellular Networks: A Survey and Challenges", IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, doi: 10.1109/COMST.2015.2447036.

 C. H. Suárez, I. Páez, and D. Ramírez, "Modelo AHP-VIKOR para handoff espectral en redes de radio cognitiva", Revista Tecnura, vol. 19, n.º 45, 2015

Year 2014 : 19 citations

 A. Khader, M. Mainuddin, and M. Beg, “The Exploitation of Unused Spectrum for Different Signal’s Technologies”, Advances in Intelligent Informatics, Springer International Publishing, vol. 320, pp. 157-167, 2015, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-11218-3_16.

 A. Bianzino, M., Asplund, S. Nadjm-Tehrani, and E. Vergara, “Cooperative proxies: Optimally trading energy and quality of service in mobile devices”, Computer Networks, 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.comnet.2014.10.013.

 L. Correia, T. Tran, V. Pereira, J. Giacomin, and J. Silva, “DynMAC: A resistant MAC protocol to coexistence in wireless sensor networks”, Computer Networks, 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.comnet.2014.10.019.

 S. Althunibat, M. Di Renzo, F. Granelli, “Towards energy-efficient cooperative spectrum sensing for cognitive radio networks: an overview”, Telecommunication Systems, pp. 1-15, 2014, doi: 0.1007/s11235-014-9887-2.

 Z. Gao, D. Chen, K. Zhang, W. Zhang, and Y. Li, “Outage performance of cognitive AF relay networks with direct link and heterogeneous non-identical constraints”, Wireless Communications and Mobile, 27 Nov. 2014, doi: 10.1002/wcm.2560.

 D. D. Arthur, C. A. Barros, L. F. Q. Silveira, S. Xavier-de-Souza, and C. A. Valderrama, "Parallel Cyclostationarity-Exploiting Algorithm for Energy-Efficient Spectrum Sensing", IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Communications, vol. 97, no. 2, pp. 326-333, 2014.

 Z. H. A. O. Yuan, J. I. N. Shunfu, and Y. U. E. Wuyi, “Performance Evaluation of the Centralized Spectrum Access Strategy with Multiple Input Streams in Cognitive Radio Networks”, IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Communications, vol. 97, no. 2, pp. 334-342, 2014.

 P. Mach and Z. Becvar, "Hybrid Cognitive Approach for Femtocell Interference Mitigation", The Thirteenth International Conference on Networks, ICN 2014, pp. 7-14, 2014.

 N. Islam and Z. A. Shaikh, “A Study of Research Trends and Issues in Wireless Ad Hoc Networks”, Handbook of Research on Progressive Trends in Wireless Communications and Networking, vol. 1, pp. 208, IGI Global, 2014.

 J. Lee and H. K. Park, “Channel prediction-based channel allocation scheme for multichannel cognitive radio networks”, Journal of Communications and Networks, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 209-216, 2014.

 Y. Zhao, S. Jin, and W. Yue, “A novel spectrum access strategy with??-Retry policy in cognitive radio networks: A queueing-based analysis”, Journal of Communications and Networks, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 193-201, 2014.

 J. J. Lee and J. Lim, “Cognitive routing for multi-hop mobile cognitive radio ad hoc networks”, Journal of Communications and Networks, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 155-161, 2014.

 A. de Paula and C. Panazio, “Cooperative spectrum sensing under unreliable reporting channels”, Wireless Networks, January 2014, pp. 1-9, doi: 10.1007/s11276-013-0683-9

 H. AL-MAHDI, M. WAHED, and S. A. EL-AZIZ, “Performance Evaluation of the Effect of Primary Users on the Rendezvous process for Cognitive Radios”, IJCSI International Journal of Computer Science Issues, vol. 11, issue 3, no. 2, 2014.

 V. B. Mišic, M. S. I. Khan, M. M. Rahman, H. Khojasteh, and J. Mišic, “Simple Solutions May Still Be Best: On the Selection of Working Channels in a Channel-Hopping Cognitive Network”, Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing, 2014, Published online in Wiley InterScience ( doi: 10.1002/wcm.0000.

 Z. Gao, D. Chen, B. Chen, N. Yao, and G. Tan, “Outage Analysis of Cognitive AF Relay Networks with Multiple Primary Users and Heterogeneous Non-identical Parameters”, Wireless Personal Communications, pp. 1-21, 2014, doi: 10.1007/s11277-014-1916-7.

 P. Wang, J. Ansari, M. Petrova, and P. Mähönen, “ Demo: CogMAC+-a decentralized multichannel MAC protocol for cognitive wireless networks”, Proceedings of the 2014 ACM workshop on Software radio implementation forum, SRIF '14, pp. 23-26, 2014.

 Z. Gao, K. Zhang, D. Chen, W. Zhang, and Y. Li, “Outage Performance of Cognitive DF relay Networks with Nonidentical Rayleigh Fading Channels and Maximal Ratio Combining”, AEU-International Journal of Electronics and Communications, 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.aeue.2014.08.003.

 J. Lee, H. Park, “Handoff Scheme based on Adaptive Channel Prediction in Cognitive Radio Networks”, The Korea Institute of Information and Communication Engineering, vol.18, no. 10, pp. 2389-2396, 2014.

Year 2013 : 17 citations

 J. Ansari, X. Zhang, and P. Mähönen, “A Decentralized MAC Protocol for Opportunistic Spectrum Access in Cognitive Wireless Networks”, Computer Communications, 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.comcom.2013.06.001

 S. Wang, F. Huang, and C. Wang, “Adaptive proportional fairness resource allocation for OFDM-based cognitive radio networks”, Wireless Networks, vol. 19, n.º 3, pp. 273-284, 2013

 D. Block, and U. Meier, “Wireless Deterministic Medium Access: A Novel Concept Using Cognitive Radio”, The Third International Conference on Advances in Cognitive Radio, COCORA 2013, pp. 35-38, April 2013

 W. Jianping, L. Hewu, S. Wenqi, W. Qian, J. Zhuo, and Z. Wei, “Technology trends and architecture research for future mobile Internet,” Communications, China, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. 14–27, 2013

 R. Yu, C. Wei, and C. Zhigang, “Downlink/uplink identification of time-division duplexing-OFDMA systems for cognitive radios,” Communications, China, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. 68–78, 2013

 X. Xiang, J. Wan, C. Lin, and X. Chen, “A Dynamic Programming Approximation for Downlink Channel Allocation in Cognitive Femtocell Networks”, Computer Networks, July 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.comnet.2013.06.018

 R. Yu, C. Wei, and C. Zhigang, “Downlink/uplink Configuration Identification of TD-LTE Primary Systems in Cognitive Radios,” Journal of Electronics and Information Technology, vol. 35, no. 11, pp. 2541-2546, 2013, doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1146.2013.00188

 J. Musovic, M. Hadzialic, K. Huseinovic, “Dynamic spectrum access: An overview and synchronization issue”, ELMAR, 2013 55th International Symposium, 2013, p. 291-297

 S. Jin, Y. Zhao, W. Yue, and Z. Saffer, “Performance Analysis and Optimization of an Adaptive Admission Control Scheme in Cognitive Radio Networks,” Mathematical Problems in Engineering, vol. 13, 2013, doi:

 S. Montejo, R. D. Souza, E. M. Fernandez, V. Alfonso, and W. Godoy, “Effect of Location Accuracy and Shadowing on the Probability of Non-Interfering Concurrent Transmissions in Cognitive Ad Hoc Networks", Radioengineering, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 1138-1149, 2013

 A. H. Khader, A. M. Shabani, and M. T. Beg, “Spectral Management of Multiple Wireless Signals Based Cognitive Radio”, International Journal of Signal Processing Systems, vol. 1, no. 2, 2013

 M. H. Alsharif, R. Nordin, and M. Ismail, "Classification, Recent Advances and Research Challenges in Energy Efficient Cellular Networks", Wireless Personal Communications, pp. 1-21, 2013, doi: 10.1007/s11277-013-1564-3

 F. M. Modesto, J. L. Bordim, and A. C. Drummond, “Improving Channel Usage in Networks Employing Dynamic Spectrum Access”, IEEE First International Symposium on Computing and Networking, CANDAR 2013, pp. 180-186, 2013.

 S. N. Khan, M. A. Kalil, and A. Mitschele-Thiel, “Crsimulator: a discrete simulation model for cognitive radio ad hoc networks in omnet++”, IFIP/IEEE Wireless and Mobile Networking Conference, WMNC2013, 2013.

 Denis Trcek, “Lightweight protocols and privacy for all-in-silicon objects”, Ad Hoc Networks, Available online 14 March 2013, ISSN 1570-8705, 10.1016/j.adhoc.2013.02.005

 J. Misic, V. B. Misic, and S. M. I. Khan, “On the Selection of Working Channels in a Channel-Hopping Cognitive PAN", The 9th International Wireless Communications & Mobile Computing Conference, IWCMC 2013, 2013

 V. Esmaeelzadeh, R. Berangi, S. M. Sebt, E. S. Hosseini, and M. Parsinia, “CogNS: A Simulation Framework for Cognitive Radio Networks”, Wireless Personal Communications, April 2013, doi: 10.1007/s11277-013-1184-y

Year 2012 : 8 citations

 A. Yudhahutama, A.K.M. Muzahidul Islam, and N. Mansor, "Simulation Environment for Dynamic Cognitive Radio Network Architecture: A survey," Malaysia – Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT) – Japanese University Consortium Committee (JUC) Joint Symposium (MJJS 2012), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2012.

 H. Al-Rawi and K.-L. Yau, “Routing in Distributed Cognitive Radio Networks: A Survey”, Wireless Personal Communications (Springer), 2012, pp. 1-38, DOI: 10.1007/s11277-012-0674-7 (Online First)

 I. Sharma and G. Singh, “A Novel Approach for Spectrum Access Using Fuzzy Logic in Cognitive Radio”, International Journal of Information Technology, vol. 4, 2012

 Denis Trcek, “An Integrative Architecture for a Sensor-Supported Trust Management System”, Sensors, vol. 12, nº. 8, pp. 10774-10787, 2012, DOI: 10.3390/s120810774

 G. Li, Z. Xiao-feng, and Z. Shi-hong, “Decentralized Power Control Algorithm Based on Signaling Games in Cognitive Radio Networks”, Journal of Electronics & Information Technology, vol. 34, n.º 10, pp. 2527-2531, 2012, DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1146.2011.01199

 M. S. Obaidat, A. Anpalagan, and I. Woungang, Handbook of Green Information and Communication Systems. Elsevier Science, 2012, ISBN: 012415882X, 9780124158825

 Y. Zhao, S. Jin, and A. Tian, “Non-saturated throughput analysis of IEEE 802.11-based cognitive radio networks”, Journal of China Universities of Posts and Telecom 2012, vol. 19, n.º 6, pp. 6-13, DOI: 10.1016/S1005-8885(11)60311-7

 Y. Zhao, S Jin, and Wuyi Yue, “A novel dynamic channel bonding strategy in cognitive radio networks and its performance evaluation”, 5th International Conference on Optimization and Control with Applications, OCA2012, 2012, pp. 173-178