In this study, we analyse incremental cooperative communication for wireless body area networks (WBANs) with different numbers of relays. Energy efficiency (EE) and the packet error rate (PER) are investigated for different schemes. We propose a new cooperative communication scheme with three-stage relaying and compare it to existing schemes. Our proposed scheme provides reliable communication with less PER at the cost of surplus energy consumption. Analytical expressions for the EE of the proposed three-stage cooperative communication scheme are also derived, taking into account the effect of PER. Later on, the proposed three-stage incremental cooperation is implemented in a network layer protocol; enhanced incremental cooperative critical data transmission in emergencies for static WBANs (EInCo-CEStat). Extensive simulations are conducted to validate the proposed scheme. Results of incremental relay-based cooperative communication protocols are compared to two existing cooperative routing protocols: cooperative critical data transmission in emergencies for static WBANs (Co-CEStat) and InCo-CEStat. It is observed from the simulation results that incremental relay-based cooperation is more energy efficient than the existing conventional cooperation protocol, Co-CEStat. The results also reveal that EInCo-CEStat proves to be more reliable with less PER and higher throughput than both of the counterpart protocols. However, InCo-CEStat has less throughput with a greater stability period and network lifetime. Due to the availability of more redundant links, EInCo-CEStat achieves a reduced packet drop rate at the cost of increased energy consumption.
Keywords: energy consumption; incremental cooperative communication; relaying; reliability; routing; wireless body area networks.