Receiver-initiated medium access control protocols for wireless sensor networks

Xenofon Fafoutis, Alessio Di Mauro, Madava D. Vithanage, Nicola Dragoni

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


One of the fundamental building blocks of a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) is the Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol, that part of the system governing when and how two independent neighboring nodes activate their respective transceivers to directly interact. Historically, data exchange has always been initiated by the node willing to relay data, i.e. the sender. However, the Receiver-Initiated paradigm introduced by Lin et al. in 2004 with RICER and made popular by Sun et al. in 2008 with RI-MAC, has spawned a whole new stream of research, yielding tens of new MAC protocols. Within such paradigm, the receiver is the one in charge of starting a direct communication with an eligible sender. This allows for new useful properties to be satisfied, novel schemes to be introduced and new challenges to be tackled. In this paper, we present a survey comprising of all the MAC protocols released since the year 2004 that fall under the receiver-initiated category. In particular, keeping in mind the key challenges that receiver-initiated MAC protocols are meant to deal with, we analyze and discuss the different protocols according to common features and design goals. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive and self-contained introduction to the fundamentals of the receiver-initiated paradigm, providing newcomers with a quick-start guide on the state of the art of this field and a palette of options, essential for implementing applications or designing new protocols.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputer Networks
Pages (from-to)55-74
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Distributed embedded systems
  • Medium access control
  • Receiver initiated protocols
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Electronic data interchange
  • Embedded systems
  • Sensor nodes
  • Different protocols
  • Direct communications
  • Distributed embedded system
  • Fundamental building blocks
  • Medium access control protocols
  • Neighboring nodes
  • Receiver-initiated
  • Useful properties

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