While relay-based cooperative networks (widely known in the literature as cooperative communication), where relays only forward signals from the sources to the destination, have been extensively researched, fully cooperative systems have not been thoroughly examined. Unlike relay networks, in a fully cooperative network, each node acts as both a source node sending its own data and a relay forwarding its partner's data to the destination. Mutual cooperation between neighboring nodes is believed to improve the overall system error performance, especially when space-time codes are incorporated. However, a comprehensive performance analysis of space-time-coded fully cooperative communication from all three perspectives, namel,y error performance, outage probability, and energy efficiency, is still missing. Answers to the commonly asked questions of whether, in what conditions, and to what extent the space-time-coded fully cooperative communication is better than direct transmission are still unknown. Motivated by this fact and inspired by the increasing popularity of healthcare applications in wireless body area networks (WBANs), this paper derives for the first time a comprehensive performance analysis of a decode-and-forward space-time coded fully cooperative communication network in Rayleigh and Rician fading channels in either identically or non-identically distributed fading scenario. Numerical analysis of error performance, outage probability, and energy efficiency, validated by simulations, show that fully cooperative communication is better than direct transmission from all three aspects in many cases, especially at a low-power and low signal-to-noise ratio regime, which is a typical working condition in WBANs.
L. C. Tran, A. Mertins, X. Huang & F. Safaei, "Comprehensive performance analysis of fully cooperative communication in WBANs," IEEE Access, vol. 4, pp. 8737-8756, 2016.