This survey paper presents the state-of-the-art directional medium access control (MAC) protocols in wireless ad hoc and sensor networks (WAHSNs). The key benefits of directional antennas over omni-directional antennas are longer communication range, less multipath interference, more spatial reuse, more secure communications, higher throughput and reduced latency. However, directional antennas lead to single-/multi-channel directional hidden/exposed terminals, deafness and neighborhood, head-of-line blocking, and MAC-layer capture which need to be overcome. Addressing these problems and benefits for directional antennas to MAC protocols leads to many classes of directional MAC protocols in WAHSNs. These classes of directional MAC protocols presented in this survey paper include single-channel, multi-channel, cooperative and cognitive directional MACs. Single-channel directional MAC protocols can be classified as contention-based or non-contention-based or hybrid-based, while multi-channel directional MAC protocols commonly use a common control channel for control packets/tones and one or more data channels for directional data transmissions. Cooperative directional MAC protocols improve throughput in WAHSNs via directional multi-rate/single-relay/multiple-relay/two frequency channels/polarization, while cognitive directional MAC protocols leverage on conventional directional MAC protocols with new twists to address dynamic spectrum access. All of these directional MAC protocols are the pillars for the design of future directional MAC protocols in WAHSNs.
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