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This paper aims at answering the questions of how to enable cooperative communications in random access networks. And, since cooperation introduces extra transmissions in the channel, what are the benefits and possible tradeoffs associated with cooperation? To achieve this goal, a novel cooperative protocol for wireless networks based on IEEE 802.11 random access protocol is proposed. The proposed protocol guarantees an uncontested channel access to the relay. Interaction between different network nodes is characterized and performance analysis is conducted through Markov chain models in conjunction with queuing theoretical analysis. Results demonstrate significant gains in terms of throughput and delay performance compared with the non cooperative CSMA/CA protocol.
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