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Error Correction Scheme for Wireless

Sensor Networks
Abdulkareem A. Kadhim, Aya K. Al-Joudi, and Hamed Al-Raweshidy

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) have gained high importance in recent years. Because they are very small and can easily
be implemented in any place, they invoke a wide range of applications. In the last years, improvements of wireless sensor networks have
been made by applying Error Control Coding (ECC) schemes. Usually two different error control schemes are used for WSNs which are
Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Automatic Repeat on reQuest (ARQ). These codes work either separately or in a hybrid manner known
as Hybrid Automatic Repeat on reQuest (HARQ) schemes. A proposed coding arrangement is presented here and tested, aiming to provide
further performance improvement for different applications of WSNs. The arrangement is based on HARQ scheme which consists of two
concatenated FEC codes together with ARQ. The concatenation here reduces errors and hence unnecessary retransmissions by ARQ are
avoided, thus energy saving is obtained. WSN simulator is built and used to test the proposed coding arrangement performance. The proposed coding arrangement shows better error rate performance when tested over models of AWGN, flat fading and multipath fading channels. Improvements were gained also in throughput (packets/s) and energy saving as compared to other coding schemes normally used with
Index Terms Automatic Repeat on reQuest, Energy Saving in Wireless Sensor Networks, Forward Error Correction, Hybrid
Automatic Repeat on reQuest, Wireless Sensor Networks.


HE importance of using Wireless Sensor Networks performance measures such as Packet Error Rate (PER),

(WSNs) in many applications stems from the fact that

it can be easily and effectively deployed. Sensors can
reach places where it is difficult to place wires. The fact
that WSNs is relatively has lower cost than other wired
networks give them more importance [1].
Transmissions over wireless channels affect the
transmitted data. Data transmitted over wireless channels
will suffer from corruption due to noise and fading. Thus,
in recent years the focusing is on improving the overall
transmission for these channels [2]. The most effective
way to protect transmitted data is the cooperation be-
tween the transmitter and receiver through the communi-
cation. This can be done using Error Control Coding
(ECC) schemes [3]. ECC schemes for WSNs received
considerable attention in recent years to improve their
performance. Bit Error Rate (BER) performance shows
that using FEC codes, especially Reed Solomon (RS)
codes, can significantly improve performance and packet
loss [4], [5], [6], [7], [8].
ARQ codes can also be used to improve the perfor-
mance of WSNs but on the expense of energy consump-
tion [9]. Using FEC technique combined with ARQ is a
promising alternative. Even a simple repetition is more
efficient than an ARQ scheme without FEC for different

A. Kadhim is with the Department of Networks Engineering, College of

Information Engineering, Al-Nahrain University, Baghdad, Iraq.
A. Al-Joudi is with the Department of Information and Communication
Engineering, College of Information Engineering, Al-Nahrain University,
Baghdad, Iraq.
H. Al-Raweshidy is with the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel
University London, U.K.

BER, throughput and energy consumption [1], [10], [11],

[12], [13], [14], [15], 16], [17], [18].
In the present work, an arrangement of FEC and
ARQ codes is proposed to improve the performance of
WSNs, while trying to gain an advantage in the con-
sumed energy. The proposed coding scheme is Hybrid
Automatic Repeat on request (HARQ) where two differ-
ent FEC codes are serially concatenated followed by ARQ
scheme. The two concatenated FEC codes are RS code and
convolutional code. Such arrangement may work in a
way to reserve the advantages of both the FEC and ARQ.
WSN simulator is also built and used to test the proposed
coding arrangement.
The remaining sections of the paper are organized as
follows; in next section the built simulator and the model
parameters are described, while Section-3 gives the de-
tails of the proposed coding arrangement. Section-4 rep-
resents the simulation tests and results of the proposed
coding scheme. Assessment of the results is given in Sec-
tion-5 followed by the conclusion in Section-6.


The nature of WSNs and their applications make them

vulnerable to different channel impairments. These in-
clude whether and other factors such as security, cover-
age and unreliable communication which make the in-
formation sent more susceptible to errors. In the built
WSNs simulator, there is a need to specify; network to-
pology, network area dimensions, channel type and pa-
rameters, number of sensor nodes and number of packets
to be transmitted through the network, the presence of

node mobilityetc. All these parameters together with

transmission and channel specifications have made the
need for a universal WSNs simulator an important issue.
The simulator here deals with the network performance
measures that cover error rates, throughput, and energy
consumption. The simulator is built using Matlab and is
now subject to patent application. For more details of the
simulator, its main stages and flow chart can be found
elsewhere [19].
The following summarizes the main features of the
used WSNs simulator;
a- Variety of network area dimensions.
b- Three types of transmission channel models namely;
i-Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN) Channel.
ii-Flat Fading Channel.
iii-Multipath Frequency Selective Fading Channel.
c- Different number of clusters
d- Possible mobility of sensor nodes
e- Different size and number of packets
f- Varaiety in coding parameters
g- Different performance measures.

Signal-to-noise power ratio (SNR) is varied within
some ranges and the corresponding performance results
are measured. The definition of SNR is given by ;

SNR = Eb / N o (dB) (1)

Where Eb is the average signal energy per data bit and
N o is the single sided power spectral density (PSD) of

noise in W/Hz. Binary Phase Shift Keying (BPSK)

modulation scheme is considered.

The performace results can be seen in the form of
Packet Error Rate (PER), Bit Error Rate (BER),
Throughput (Thru) in terms of packet per seconds and
bit per seconds, and the total remaining energy. PER is
determinde by the ratio of the number of incorrect
packets to the total number transmitted packets. BER is
the ratio of the total number of incorrect bits to the
number of transmitted bits. The packet based throughput
is defined as the number of correct received packets
divided by the interval of the whole transmission. Similar
division will go for the bit based througput. The total
remaining energy for the over all network can be
calculated by the difference between the initial energy set
for all network nodes and the total energy consumed by

The packet size and the distance between nodes are
taken into account when calculating the energy
consumption after each transmission as in the following
equation [21];

(J/bit), Emp is the amplifier energy (J/bit/m4), and d nb is

the distance between the sending and receiving nodes.
The above equation is for the transmission, similar
equation can be used for receiption as well with ETX is
replaced by E RX (the energy consumed per received bit).
The adopted parameters considered in the model for
simulation tests are;
1. Number of packets (Np ) = 10000 packets
2. Packet size: 10000 bits
3. Transmission bit rate( R) = 1 Mbps
4. Number of sensor nodes (NN) = 250 nodes
5. Area dimension (DX,DY) = (100,1000) m
6. Number of clusters (NC) = 16 clusters
7. Mobility percentage (Mob%)= 25% of nodes are mobile


In order to obtain better performance in WSN environ-
ment, a new coding arrangement is proposed and tested
here. The proposed scheme here combines three different
coding techniques which are RS, Convolutional and ARQ
codes. RS and convolutional codes are presented as seri-
ally concatenated codes. This arrangement provides bet-
ter error performance when combined with ARQ. The RS
code is used as the outer code and the convolutional code
as the inner code along with the ARQ scheme. The latter
provides better correction capability on the expense of
more consumed energy, thus it is believed that using the
three codes together will provide better error perfor-
mance and energy tradeoff. The simulator used provides
different parameter settings for the three different types
of coding schemes mentioned.
1- The Outer Code Parameters
Different combinations of n (codeword length) and k
(the data block length) for RS code are provided by the
simulator. For each combination there is certain error
correction cabability t determined by the relation [20];
n k = 2t (3)
2- The Inner Code Parameters
Three parameters are needed for the inner convolutional
code. These are : the number of output bits n , the
number of input bits k , and the number of memory
stages D .
3- The ARQ Parameter
The only parameter needed for ARQ scheme is the
number of retransmissions N.


Erem = EI ((ETX + Emp ) Packet size (d nb ) 4 ) (2) Three different RS codes are used here with three differ-

where E I is the initial energy (Joule) for the network

nodes, ETX is the energy consumed per transmitted bit

ent codewords length (n) ; 255, 511, and 1023. These are
also tested with different error correction capabilities (and
hence with different number of check symbols) to investi-
gate the effect of such parameters on the system perfor-

mance. Three different values are used for the error cor-
rection capabilities; 8, 16, and 32, resulting in three differ-
ent lengths for check symbols of 16, 32, and 64, respective-
ly. ARQ used here is with 4 maximum number of re-
transmission, while the convolutional code parameters (n,
k, D) are (3,1,3).
Simulation test results are shown according to given
channel. The first is the performance of different coding
schemes over AWGN channel in terms of PER, BER,
Throughput, and the remaining energy. Similarly, the
second and third parts are for Flat fading and Multipath
selective fading channels, respectively. These perfor-
mances are shown for three different error correction
schemes with different error capabilities.
The performance of the proposed coding arrangement
is shown in Figs.1-5 for AWGN channel with the coding
and network parameters as described in the previous sec-
tion. Figs.6-10 show the performance of the proposed
coding arrangement over flat fading channel with differ-
ent coding and network parameters. Similar performance
is also shown in Figs.11-15 for frequency selective fading
channel with different coding and network parameters as
described in the previous section.
Fig. 2. Different coding schemes performance over AWGN Channel

Fig.1. Different coding schemes performance over AWGN Channel

Fig. 3. Different coding schemes performance over AWGN Channel

Fig. 6. Different coding schemes performance over flat fading channel

Fig. 4. Different coding schemes performance over AWGN Channel

Fig. 5.Remaining energy of coding schemes over AWGN Channel

Fig. 7. Different coding schemes performance over flat fading


Fig. 10. Remaining energy of coding schemes over flat fading


Fig. 8. Different coding schemes performance over flat fading


Fig. 11. Different coding schemes performance over SUI-3 channel

Fig. 9. Different coding schemes performance over flat fading

Fig. 12. Different coding schemes performance over SUI-3 channel

Fig. 14. Different coding schemes performance over SUI-3 channel

Fig. 15. Remaining energy of coding schemes over SUI-3 channel

Fig. 13. Different coding schemes performance

over SUI-3 channel


Considering the test results of the previous section for
AWGN, flat fading, and frequency selective multipath
fading channels encourage the use of the proposed cod-
ing scheme for WSNs.
The performance over the three channels considered
in the work shows that the coding arrangement with RS
code having codeword length (n) of 255 outperforms oth-
er codeword length selections. This is the least length
tested in the work. This means that RS code with small
codeword length is a preferred selection and more suita-
ble for WSNs applications.
Packet throughput over the three channels shows
that the proposed coding arrangement is more efficient
for use with WSNs, where the real applications of WSNs
usually rely on transmission of large data units in the
form of packets rather than serial bits. Thus the most im-
portant factor here is to obtain better throughput in terms
of packets/sec. Also, the results of BER and throughput
in terms of bits per second show that codes with higher n
perform better than others. Clearly, this is achieved on
the expense of more processing time and complexity.
Looking at the performance with remaining energy
using different RS codes for the proposed arrangement
(Figs 5, 10, and 15) shows that as long as the codeword
length is the same, the remaining energy is unaffected. In
general, the results show that the proposed coding ar-
rangement of Hybrid-ARQ gives an improved perfor-
mance for WSNs together with noticeable energy saving.

Error correction schemes can improve the performance of
WSNs transmission in terms of PER, BER and through-
put. Using ARQ code alone in WSNs consumes more
energy due to the extra transmissions required. Thus
more energy is required and hence powerful coding
schemes are needed for WSNs applications. The proposed
concatenated and hybrid coding arrangement for WSNs
reduces the number of retransmissions of ARQ compo-
nent by improving the correction capability of the FEC.
This is reflected in the form of improved throughput
measured over models of wireless fading channels tested
in the work. Thus a better performance/ energy trade-off
is provided by the proposed arrangement

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