There are several benefits to a heterogeneous wireless network as opposed to a traditional homogeneous wireless network including increased reliability, improved spectrum efficiency, and increased coverage. Due to the rapidly increasing number of users in the wireless technology and the conversion of voice-only communications to multimedia applications, increasing efficiency of spectrum usage is an urgent and reliable solution. Cognitive radio (CR) is considered as a promising candidate to be employed in such systems as they are aware of their operating environments and can be trained to dynamically and autonomously adjust its radio operating parameters accordingly. The capability of the cognitive radio to sense, learn, and adapt to the radio environment provides new opportunities for spectrum users. The objective of this study is to design and analyze a more reliable heterogeneous wireless network that is able to establish a virtual wireless link before the actual communication starts. In spectrum detection schemes, the secondary user will be allocated a channel if and only if there is free accessible channel in the primary users’ band. In this paper we design a system model for the cognitive radio network and develop a novel virtual wireless link selection (VWLS) algorithm for heterogeneous wireless networks. The VWLS algorithm is then analyzed and computer simulated to show the impact of the virtual link on the performance of the network. By demonstrating the performance improvement of the cognitive radio network (CRN) with the help of the newly developed algorithm, we can prove that the reliability can also be enhanced.
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