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Cooperative relay is a communication paradigm that aims to realize the capacity of multi-antenna arrays in a distributed manner. However, the symbol-level synchronization requirement among distributed relays limits its use in practice. The authors propose to circumvent this barrier with a cross-layer protocol called Distributed Asynchronous Cooperation (DAC). With DAC, multiple relays can schedule concurrent transmissions with packet-level (hence coarse) synchronization. The receiver then extracts multiple versions of each relayed packet via a collision-resolution algorithm, thus realizing the diversity gain of cooperative communication.
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