Adaptive Preamble Embedding with MIMO to Support User-defined Functionalities in WLANs

Zhengguang Zhang, Hanif Rahbari, Marwan Krunz


As the Wi-Fi technology transitions into its sixth generation (Wi-Fi 6), there is a growing consensus on the need to support security and coordination functions at the Physical (PHY) layer. In contrast to the costly approach of extending the PHY-layer header to support new functions (e.g., Spatial Reuse field in the 802.11ax-based Wi-Fi frame), we propose to turn specific parts of the frame preamble into a reliable data field while maintaining its primary functions. Specifically, in this paper, we develop a scheme called extensible preamble modulation (eP-Mod) for 802.11n/ac/ax protocols that are built on multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) and orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM). For each frame, eP-Mod can embed up to 144 user bits into the 802.11ac preamble of an 8×8 MIMO 40MHz transmission. The proposed scheme is adaptive to channel conditions and enables several promising PHY-layer services, such as PHY-layer encryption and channel/device authentication, and PHY-layer signaling. At the same time, it allows legacy (eP-Mod-unaware) devices to continue to process the received preamble as normal by guaranteeing that the proposed preamble waveforms satisfy the structural properties of a standardized preamble. Through numerical analysis, extensive simulations, and hardware experiments, we validate the practicality and reliability ofeP-Mod.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


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