TDA-MAC: TDMA without clock synchronization in underwater acoustic networks

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This paper investigates the application of underwater acoustic sensor networks for large scale monitoring of the ocean environment. The low propagation speed of acoustic signals presents a fundamental challenge in coordinating the access to the shared communication medium in such networks. In this paper, we propose two medium access control (MAC) protocols, namely, Transmit Delay Allocation MAC (TDA-MAC) and Accelerated TDA-MAC, that are capable of providing time division multiple access (TDMA) to sensor nodes without the need for centralized clock synchronization. A comprehensive simulation study of a network deployed on the sea bed shows that the proposed protocols are capable of closely matching the throughput and packet delay performance of ideal synchronized TDMA. The TDA-MAC protocols also significantly outperform T-Lohi, a classical contention-based MAC protocol for underwater acoustic networks, in terms of network throughput and, in many cases, end-To-end packet delay. Furthermore, the assumption of no clock synchronization among different devices in the network is a major advantage of TDA-MAC over other TDMA-based MAC protocols in the literature. Therefore, it is a feasible networking solution for real-world underwater sensor network deployments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1108
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Access
Early online date27 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2018


  • Medium access control
  • TDMA
  • underwater acoustic network
  • wireless sensor network

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