Cognitive radio networks have emerged to exploit optimally the scarcely-available radio spectrum resources to enable evolving 5G wireless communication systems. These networks tend to cater to the ever-increasing demands of higher data rates, lower latencies and ubiquitous coverage. By using the buffer-aided cooperative relaying, a cognitive radio network can enhance both the spectral efficiency and the range of the network; although, this could incur additional end-to-end delays. To mitigate this possible limitation of the buffer-aided relaying in the underlay cognitive network, a virtual duplex multi-hop scheme, referred as buffer-aided multi-hop relaying, is proposed, which improves throughput and reduces end-to-end delays while keeping the outage probability to a minimum as well. This scheme simultaneously takes into account the inter-relay interference and the interference to the primary network. The proposed scheme is modeled as a Markov chain, and Monte Carlo simulations under various scenarios are conducted to evaluate several key performance metrics such as throughput, outage probability, and average packet delay. The results show that the proposed scheme outperforms many non-buffer-aided relaying schemes in terms of outage performance. When compared with other buffer-aided relaying schemes such as max-max, max-link, and buffer-aided relay selection with reduced packet delay, the proposed scheme demonstrated better interference mitigation without compromising the delay performance as well.
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