Tag Archives: BPSK

BER for BPSK-OFDM in Frequency Selective Channel

OFDM Tx-Rx Block Diagram

As the data rates supported by wireless networks continue to rise the bandwidth requirements also continue to increase (although spectral efficiency has also improved). Remember GSM technology which supported 125 channels of 200KHz each, which was further divided among eight users using TDMA. Move on to LTE where the channel bandwidth could be as high as 20MHz (1.4MHz, 3MHz, 5MHz, 10MHz, 15MHz and 20MHz are standardized).

This advancement poses a unique challenge referred to as frequency selective fading. This means that different parts of the signal spectrum would see a different channel (different amplitude and different phase offset). Look at this in the time domain where the larger bandwidth means shorter symbol period causing intersymbol interference (as time delayed copies of the signal overlap on arrival at the receiver).

The solution to this problem is OFDM that divides the wideband signal into smaller components each having a bandwidth of a few KHz. Each of these components experiences a flat channel. To make the task of equalization simple a cyclic prefix (CP) is added in the time domain to make the effect of fading channel appear as circular convolution. Thus simplifying the frequency domain equalization to a simple division operation.

Shown below is the Python code that calculates the bit error rate (BER) of BPSK-OFDM which is the same as simple BPSK in a Rayleigh flat fading channel. However there is a caveat. We have inserted a CP which means we are transmitting more energy than simple BPSK. To be exact we are transmitting 1.25 (160/128) times more energy. This means that if this excess energy is accounted for the performance of BPSK-OFDM would be 1dB (10*log10(1.25)) worse than simple BPSK in Rayleigh flat fading channel.


  1. Although we have shown the channel as a multiplicative effect in the figure above, this is only true for a single tap channel. For a multi-tap channel (such as the one used in the code above) the effect of the channel is that of a filter which performs convolution operation on the transmitted signal.
  2. We have used a baseband model in our simulation and the accompanying figure. In reality the transmitted signal is upconverted before transmission by the antennas.
  3.  The above model can be easily modified for any modulation scheme such as QPSK or 16-QAM. The main difference would be that the signal would have a both a real part and an imaginary part, much of the simulation would remain the same. This would be the subject of a future post. For a MATLAB implementation of 64-QAM OFDM see the following post (64-QAM OFDM).
  4. Serial to parallel and parallel to serial conversion shown in the above figure was not required as the simulation was done symbol by symbol (one OFDM symbol in the time domain represented 128 BPSK symbols in the frequency domain).
  5. The channel model in the above simulation is quasi-static i.e. it remains constant for one OFDM symbol but then rapidly changes for the next, without any memory.

Alamouti – Transmit Diversity Scheme – Implemented in Python

We have already seen in previous posts that the BER of BPSK increases significantly when the channel changes from a simple AWGN channel to a fading channel. One solution to this problem, that was proposed by Alamouti, was to use Transmit Diversity i.e. multiple transmit antennas transmit the information over multiple time slots increasing the likelihood of receiving the information. We have considered the simplest case of two transmit antennas and BPSK modulation (QPSK modulation would give the same BER with twice the throughput). Given below is the Python code for this, feel free to modify it and run it from the console given below.

Implementation on Trinket

Implementation on REPL

Run Python Code from the Browser

Here is a piece of Python code that calculates Bit Error Rate (BER) of BPSK. The code is a bit slow at the moment, compared to MATLAB implementation, but this is work in progress and further optimizations would be carried out. We would like to point out that the main reason for this slower implementation is that a bit by bit error calculation is done, instead of a vectorial implementation. We already pointed out in our previous post that a “for loop” implemented in Python is not that efficient.

BPSK Bit Error Rate Calculation Using Python

Have you ever thought about how life would be without MATLAB. As it turns out there are free and open source options such as Python. We have so far restricted ourself to MATLAB in this blog but now we venture out to find out what are the other options. Given below is a most basic Pyhton code that calculates the Bit Error Rate of Binary Phase Shift Keying (BPSK). Compare this to our MATLAB implementation earlier [BPSK BER].

There are various IDEs available for writing your code but I have used Enthought Canopy Editor (32 bit) which is free to download and is also quite easy to use [download here]. So as it turns out that there is life beyond MATLAB. In fact there are several advantages of using Python over MATLAB which we will discuss later in another post. Lastly please note the indentation in the code below as there is no “end” statement in a for loop in Python.

from numpy import sqrt
from numpy.random import rand, randn
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
N = 5000000
EbNodB_range = range(0,11)
itr = len(EbNodB_range)
ber = [None]*itr

for n in range (0, itr): 
    EbNodB = EbNodB_range[n]   
    x = 2 * (rand(N) >= 0.5) - 1
    noise_std = 1/sqrt(2*EbNo)
    y = x + noise_std * randn(N)
    y_d = 2 * (y >= 0) - 1
    errors = (x != y_d).sum()
    ber[n] = 1.0 * errors / N
    print "EbNodB:", EbNodB
    print "Error bits:", errors
    print "Error probability:", ber[n] 
plt.plot(EbNodB_range, ber, 'bo', EbNodB_range, ber, 'k')
plt.axis([0, 10, 1e-6, 0.1])
plt.title('BPSK Modulation')
BPSK Bit Error Rate
BPSK Bit Error Rate



Bit Error Rate of BPSK

Modulation is the process by which a binary stream (zeros and ones) is converted to a format that is suitable for transmission over a wired or wireless channel that is prone to noise and interference as well as distortion. The most basic modulation scheme is BPSK or Binary Phase Shift Keying. It transmits the information in the phase of the signal which could be one of two values (0 degrees or 180 degrees).

BPSK signal can be represented as (called the passband representation)


where a(t) is a time varying parameter which can have one of two values (+1 or -1). This is equivalent to having the phase of the carrier rotated by 0 degrees or 180 degrees. In simulation of digital communications systems we usually take out the carrier and perform the simulation at baseband. The passband and baseband simulations are equivalent because the carrier signal introduced at the transmitter can be easily removed at the receiver by a process called correlation (or simply put multiplication by the carrier followed by low pass filtering) and what we are left with is the parameter a(t).

If the transmitted signal is given as


then by multiplication with the carrier at the receiver we get



and after low pass filtering the cosine term at twice the carrier frequency is removed and we get the parameter a(t) scaled by the factor 1/2. Since the information is contained in the sign of the parameter a(t) we can recover our transmitted symbols.

So in simulation, instead of multiplying the parameter a(t) by the carrier at transmitter and then again at the receiver we simply transmit a(t). This is equivalent to simulation of a Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM) system with two levels. Following are the steps involved in the simulation of BPSK system.


1. Generate a random sequence of symbols (+1,-1)

2. Generate samples of Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN) with the required variance (noise power = noise variance OR noise power = square of noise standard deviation OR noise power = noise power spectral density * signal bandwidth).

3. Add AWGN samples to the BPSK signal.

4. Detection is performed at the receiver by determining the sign of the parameter a(t).

5. And finally the bit error rate (BER) is calculated. Which is the same as symbol error rate (SER) in this case.

Given below is the MATLAB code that performs these functions. Also shown below are the signals generated at the first four steps and the bit error rate calculated in the fifth and last step.

% l - Input, length of the symbol sequence
% EbNo - Input, energy per bit to noise power spectral density
% ber - Output, bit error rate
s=2*(round(rand(1,l))-0.5);               % Generate BPSK symbols 
n=(1/sqrt(2*10^(EbNo/10)))*randn(1,l);     % Generate AWGN noise
r=s+n;                                  % Add noise to signal
s_=sign(r);                              % Detect symbols
ber=(l-sum(s==s_))/l;                    % Calculate BER

The length of the symbol sequence and EbNo (a bit different than SNR) are the inputs to the function and the bit error rate (BER) is the output. The length of the sequence must be such that you can count about 25 symbol errors at each value of EbNo. This means that at an EbNo of 10dB you would need to pass a few million symbols through the channel. Try it out!!!

BPSK Modulation



1. To generate the above given bit error rate plot you would have to create a piece of code which calls the above function for each value of EbNo and stores the output BER value in an array and then plot the BER vs EbNo at the end of simulation. We leave this to  you as an exercise.

2. We have generated BPSK symbols directly instead of first generating a binary sequence. This does not matter much in this simple example but for more advanced modulation schemes we would have to first generate a binary stream and then from that the symbols.

3. We have used one sample per symbol of BPSK modulation, as shown in the figure above. But sometimes we have to select higher number of samples per symbol (usually 4 to 10) to implement some other signal processing functions.

4. Most of the concepts discussed above can be extended to other digital modulation schemes. The concepts for analog modulation schemes are somewhat different and we do not use error rates to evaluate the performance of these schemes.