Covert Communication in Downlink NOMA Systems With Channel Uncertainty

Yanliang Zhang, Wenjing He, Xingwang Li, Hongxing Peng, Khaled Rabie, Galymzhan Nauryzbayev, Basem M. Elhalawany, Mingfu Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


With the gradual promotion of the fifth generation (5G) mobile communication and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, wireless communication transmission will be more vulnerable to illegal interceptions and/or attacks. To ensure communication security, we study covert communication of downlink nonorthogonal multiple access (NOMA) systems, where the channel knowledge of users is uncertain. A multiantenna transmitter tries to covertly transmit information to a covert user (strong user) through the shield of a public communication link (weak user), while the warden tries to detect the communication behavior between the transmitter and the covert user. To improve security and energy efficiency, the ${k}$ th best antenna of the transmitter is selected, since the optimal antenna may be not available due to some schedule and/or other reasons. Aiming to evaluate the proposed framework performance, we start by deriving exact expressions for the minimum detection error probability and the optimal detection threshold of the warden, followed by a calculation analysis of the expected minimum detection error probability (EMDEP) and the outage probability of NOMA users. The asymptotic behavior for the outage probability is investigated at high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) to acquire greater useful insights. With the goal of improving the system covertness performance, we propose that a scheme is optimized to enhance the covert throughput of the system to the maximum. Simulation results show that the following hold: 1) channel estimation errors have a significant effect on system performance; 2) reliability performance tends to build up, as the total number of antennas grows large; and 3) as the transmitting power and number of antennas increases, there is an upper bound for maximizing the covert throughput.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19101-19112
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Channel estimation errors
  • covert communication
  • expected minimum detection error probability (EMDEP)
  • nonorthogonal multiple access (NOMA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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