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Severe energy constraints and hence the low power communication requirements amplify the significance of the energy efficient and preferably cross-layer error control mechanisms in Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN). In this paper, a crosslayer methodology for the analysis of error control schemes in WSNs is presented such that the effects of multi-hop routing and the broadcast nature of the wireless channel are investigated. More specifically, the cross-layer effects of routing, medium access and physical layers are considered. This analysis enables a comprehensive comparison of forward error correction (FEC) and automatic repeat request (ARQ) in WSNs.
FEC schemes improve the error resiliency compared to ARQ. In a multi-hop network, this improvement can be exploited by reducing the transmit power (transmit power control) or by constructing longer hops (hop length extension), which can be achieved through channel-aware routing protocols. The results of our analysis reveal that for certain FEC codes, the hop length extension decreases both the energy consumption and the endtoend latency subject to a target PER compared to ARQ. Thus, FEC codes can be regarded as an important candidate for delay sensitive traffic in WSNs. On the other hand, transmit power control results in significant savings in energy consumption at the cost of increased latency. Moreover, the cases where ARQ outperforms FEC codes are indicated for various end-to-end distance and target PER values.