Network coding is an interesting technique which can provide throughput improvements and a high degree of robustness in packet networks. Network coding is a networking technique in which transmitted data is encoded and decoded to increase network throughput, reduce delays and make the network more robust. Cooperative communication, which utilizes neighboring nodes to relay the overhearing information, has been employed as an effective technique to deal with the channel fading and to improve the network performances. Network coding, which combines several packets together for transmission, is very helpful to reduce the redundancy at the network and to increase the overall throughput. Introducing network coding into the cooperative retransmission process enables the relay node to assist other nodes while serving its own traffic simultaneously. To leverage the benefits brought by both of them, an efficient Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol is needed. In this paper, we propose a novel network coding aware cooperative MAC protocol, namely NCAC-MAC, for wireless ad hoc networks. The design objective of NCAC-MAC is to increase the throughput and reduce the delay. Simulation results reveal that NCAC-MAC can improve the network performance under general circumstances comparing with two benchmarks.
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