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Preamble-based Mac Protocols in Wireless Sensor Networks: a Survey
Chen Defu and Tao Zhengsu

Medium access control (MAC) protocols control how neighboring nodes access a shared wireless channel. Proper design of the MAC protocol is critical to the performance of wireless sensor networks (WSNs), which have to work with limited and non-renewable energy resources. Preamble- based MAC protocols organize nodes in an asynchronous way and use a preamble sampling technique to link senders and receivers. These protocols inherently operate with reduced overhead compared to scheduled or synchronous protocols. Preamble-based MAC protocols have been widely applied in WSNs due to their simplicity and efficiency. Research interest has recently focused on investigating novel strategies for preamble sampling to improve the performance of preamble-based MAC protocols. This paper provides a survey of existing preamble-based MAC protocols. The performance of each protocol, in terms of energy efficiency and latency, is analyzed in detail. A taxonomy is provided based on protocol features and the chronology of their appearance along with a comprehensive comparison of these protocols. The paper also indicates possible directions for future research on preamble-based MAC protocols.

Keywords: wireless sensor networks; MAC; preamble; low-power listening; consumption; latency

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