Table Of Contents
Table Of Contents

MAC Protocols for Wireless Sensor Networks


The INET Framework contains the implementation of several MAC protocols for wireless sensor networks (WSNs), including B-MAC, L-MAC and X-MAC.

To create a wireless node with a specific MAC protocol, use a node type that has a wireless interface, and set the interface type to the appropriate type. For example, WirelessHost is a node type which is preconfigured to have one wireless interface, wlan[0]. wlan[0] is of parametric type, so if you build the network from WirelessHost nodes, you can configure all of them to use e.g. B-MAC with the following line in the ini file:

**.wlan[0].typename = "BMacInterface"


B-MAC (Berkeley MAC) is a carrier sense media access protocol for wireless sensor networks that provides a flexible interface to obtain ultra low power operation, effective collision avoidance, and high channel utilization. To achieve low power operation, B-MAC employs an adaptive preamble sampling scheme to reduce duty cycle and minimize idle listening. B-MAC is designed for low traffic, low power communication, and is one of the most widely used protocols (e.g. it is part of TinyOS).

The BMac module type implements the B-MAC protocol.

BMacInterface is a WirelessInterface with the MAC type set to BMac.


L-MAC (Lightweight MAC) is an energy-efficient medium acces protocol designed for wireless sensor networks. Although the protocol uses TDMA to give nodes in the WSN the opportunity to communicate collision-free, the network is self-organizing in terms of time slot assignment and synchronization. The protocol reduces the number of transceiver state switches and hence the energy wasted in preamble transmissions.

The LMac module type implements the L-MAC protocol, based on the paper “A lightweight medium access protocol (LMAC) for wireless sensor networks” by van Hoesel and P. Havinga.

LMacInterface is a WirelessInterface with the MAC type set to LMac.


X-MAC is a low-power MAC protocol for wireless sensor networks (WSNs). In contrast to B-MAC which employs an extended preamble and preamble sampling, X-MAC uses a shortened preamble that reduces latency at each hop and improves energy consumption while retaining the advantages of low power listening, namely low power communication, simplicity and a decoupling of transmitter and receiver sleep schedules.

The XMac module type implements the X-MAC protocol, based on the paper “X-MAC: A Short Preamble MAC Protocol for Duty-Cycled Wireless Sensor Networks” by Michael Buettner, Gary V. Yee, Eric Anderson and Richard Han.

XMacInterface is a WirelessInterface with the MAC type set to XMac.