Analog network coding (ANC) is effective in improving spectrum efficiency. To coordinate ANC among multiple nodes without relying on complicated scheduling algorithm and network optimization, a new random access MAC protocol, called ANC-ERA, is developed to dynamically form ANC-cooperation groups in an ad hoc network. ANC-ERA includes several key mechanisms to maintain high performance in medium access. First, network allocation vectors (NAV) of control frames are properly set to avoid overblocking of channel access. Second, a channel occupation frame (COF) is added to protect vulnerable periods during the formation of ANC cooperation.
Third, an ACK diversity mechanism is designed to reduce potentially high ACK loss probability in ANC-based wireless networks. Since forming an ANC cooperation relies on bi-directional traffic between the initiator and the cooperator, the throughput gain from ANC drops dramatically if bi-directional traffic is not available. To avoid this issue, the fourth key mechanism, called flow compensation, is designed to form different types of ANC cooperation among neighboring nodes of the initiator and the cooperator. Both theoretical analysis and simulations are conducted to evaluate ANC-ERA. Performance results show that ANC-ERA works effectively in ad hoc networks and significantly outperforms existing random access MAC protocols.