Fundamentals of Physical Layer Anonymous Communications: Sender Detection and Anonymous Precoding

Zhongxiang Wei, Fan Liu, Christos Masouros, H. Vincent Poor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In the era of big data, anonymity is recognized as an important attribute in privacy-preserving communications. The existing anonymous authentication and routing designs are applied at higher layers of networks, ignoring the fact that physical layer (PHY) also contains privacy-critical information. In this paper, we introduce the concept of PHY anonymity, and reveal that the receiver can unmask the sender's identity by only analyzing the PHY information, i.e., the signaling patterns and the characteristics of the channel. We investigate two scenarios, where the receiver has more antennas than the sender in the strong receiver case, and vice versa in the strong sender case. For each scenario, we first investigate sender detection strategies at the receiver, and then we develop anonymous precoding to address anonymity while guaranteeing high signal-to-interference-plus-noise-ratio (SINR) for communications. In particular, an interference suppression anonymous precoder is first proposed, assisted by a dedicated transmitter-side phase equalizer for removing phase ambiguity. Afterwards, a constructive interference anonymous precoder is investigated to utilize inter-antenna interference as a beneficial element without loss of the sender's anonymity. Simulations demonstrate that the anonymous precoders are able to preserve the sender's anonymity and simultaneously guarantee high SINR, opening a new dimension on PHY anonymous designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-79
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Anonymous communications
  • anonymous precoding
  • constructive interference
  • physical layer
  • semi-definite relaxation
  • sender detection


Dive into the research topics of 'Fundamentals of Physical Layer Anonymous Communications: Sender Detection and Anonymous Precoding'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this