Enabling Out-of-Band Coordination of Wi-Fi Communications on Smartphones

Xianjin Xia, Shining Li, Yu Zhang, Bingqi Li, Yuanqing Zheng, Tao Gu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper identifies two energy saving opportunities of Wi-Fi interface emerged during smartphone's screen-off periods. Exploiting the opportunities, we propose a new power saving strategy, BackPSM, for screen-off Wi-Fi communications. BackPSM regulates client to send and receive packets in batches and coordinates multiple clients to communicate at different slots (i.e., beacon interval). The core problem in BackPSM is how to coordinate client without incurring extra traffic overheads. To handle the problem, we propose a novel paradigm, Out-of-Band Communication (OBC), for client-to-client direct communications. OBC exploits the Traffic Indication Map (TIM) field of Wi-Fi Beacon to create a free side-channel between clients. It is based upon the observation that a client may control 1 \rightarrow 0 appearing on TIM bit by locally regulating packet receiving operations. We adopt this 1 \rightarrow 0 as the basic signal, and leverage the time length in between two signals to encode information. We demonstrate that OBC can be used to convey coordination information with close to 100% accuracy. We have implemented and evaluated BackPSM on a testbed. The results show that BackPSM can decode the traffic pattern of peers reliably using OBC, and establish collision-free schedules fast to achieve out-of-band coordination of client communications. BackPSM reduces screen-off energy by up to 60% and outperforms the state-of-the-art strategies by 16%-42%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8661511
Pages (from-to)518-531
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • power saving
  • screen-off traffic
  • side-channel
  • Smartphone
  • Wi-Fi coordination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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