On the throughput of secure hybrid-ARQ protocols for Gaussian block-fading channels

Xiajun Tang, Ruoheng Liu, Predrag Spasojevíc, Vincent H. Poor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


The focus of this paper is an information-theoretic study of retransmission protocols for reliable packet communication under a secrecy constraint. The hybrid automatic retransmission request (HARQ) protocol is revisited for a block-fading wiretap channel. Here, two legitimate users communicate over a block-fading channel in the presence of a passive eavesdropper who intercepts the transmissions through an independent block-fading channel. In this model, the transmitter obtains a 1-bit ACK/NACK feedback from the legitimate receiver via an error-free public channel. Both reliability and confidentiality of secure HARQ protocols are studied through the joint consideration of channel coding, secrecy coding, and retransmission protocols. In particular, the error and secrecy performance of repetition time diversity (RTD) and incremental redundancy (INR) protocols are investigated based on Wyner code sequences. These protocols ensure that the confidential message is decoded successfully by the legitimate receiver and is kept completely secret from the eavesdropper for a set of channel realizations. This paper illustrates that there exists a rate-compatible Wyner code family which ensures a secure INR protocol. Further, it defines the connection outage and secrecy outage probabilities to characterize the tradeoff between the reliability of the legitimate communication link and the confidentiality with respect to the eavesdropper's link. For a given connection/secrecy outage probability pair, an achievable throughput of secure HARQ protocols is derived for block-fading channels. Finally, both asymptotic analysis and numerical calculations demonstrate the benefits of HARQ protocols to throughput and secrecy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1575-1591
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Block fading
  • Hybrid automatic retransmission request (HARQ)
  • Incremental redundancy
  • Information-theoretic secrecy
  • Rate compatible punctured codes
  • Time diversity


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