All posts by Yasir Ahmed (aka John)

About Yasir Ahmed (aka John)

More than 20 years of experience in various organizations in Pakistan, USA and Europe. Worked as Research Assistant within Mobile and Portable Radio Group (MPRG) of Virginia Tech and was one of the first researchers to propose Space Time Block Codes for eight transmit antennas. The collaboration with MPRG continued even after graduating with an MSEE degree and has resulted in 12 research publications and a book on Wireless Communications. Worked for Qualcomm USA as an Engineer with the key role of performance and conformance testing of UMTS modems. Qualcomm is the inventor of CDMA technology and owns patents critical to the 5G and 4G standards.

Fundamentals of Direction of Arrival Estimation

Direction of Arrival (DOA) estimation is a fundamental problem in communications and signal processing with application in cellular communications, radar, sonar etc. It has become increasingly important in recent times as 5G communications uses DOA to spatially separate the users resulting in higher capacity and throughput. Direction of Arrival estimation can be thought of as the converse of beamforming. As you might recall from the discussion in previous posts, in beamforming you use the steering vector to receive a signal from a particular direction, rejecting the signals from other directions. In DOA estimation you scan the entire angular domain to find the required signal or signals and estimate their angles of arrival and possibly the ranges as well.

Continue reading Fundamentals of Direction of Arrival Estimation

5G Data Rates and Shannon Capacity

Recently I came across a post from T-Mobile in which they claim to have achieved a download speed of 5.6 Gbps over a 100 MHz channel resulting in a Spectral Efficiency of more than 50 bps/Hz. This was achieved in an MU-MIMO configuration with eight connected devices having an aggregate of 16 parallel streams i.e. two parallel streams per device. The channel used for this experiment was the mid-band frequency of 2.5 GHz.

Continue reading 5G Data Rates and Shannon Capacity

5G Rollout in the USA: Long Way to Go

There is a 3 way race for 5G leadership in the US between T-Mobile(+Sprint), Verizon and AT&T. There are competing claims for the number of 5G subscribers, coverage area and download speeds. But let us look where the 5G industry stands today compared to the expectations a few years back. More than 80% of US population lives in urban areas which comprise of 2% of the total land area of about 10 million squared kilometers. That is 80% of the population lives in an area of about 200,000 squared kilometers.

Continue reading 5G Rollout in the USA: Long Way to Go

My Top 12 Marconi Award Winners

While reading an article on social media I came to know that Siavash M. Alamouti has been awarded the Marconi Award for the year 2022. It came as no surprise as his work on MIMO technology has been ground breaking and has influenced the work of thousands of researchers. If there is a moot point it is that this award must have been given earlier. Just look up his 1998 paper on Google Scholar and you will find that the number of citations has reached a staggering figure of 18,756. On a personal front, I must admit that when I started my research on MIMO I was having difficulty grasping the concepts and it was Alamouti’s paper that set my direction of research.

Continue reading My Top 12 Marconi Award Winners

Near Field of an Antenna

The Electromagnetic Radiation from an antenna, particularly dipole antenna, has been studied in great detail. The mathematical framework proposed by Maxwell has stood the test of time and theoretical concepts have been verified through physical measurements. But the behavior of Electromagnetic (EM) waves close to the radiating antenna is not that well understood. This region that extends to about a wavelength from the antenna is called Near Field, as opposed to Far Field, which extends further out. The Near Field is further divided into Reactive Near Field and Radiative Near Field.

Continue reading Near Field of an Antenna

5G Millimeter Waves: Are They Really Harmful

There has been a continuous debate about harmful effects of Electromagnetic Radiations ever since they came into existence. Most of the research results suggest that there are no harmful effects, if the rules and regulations are followed. But there is a small body of research that suggests that there might be some harmful effects and more research needs to be carried out. This is particularly important now as 5G Wireless Technology is being rolled out around the world and it uses millimeter waves for which we have limited data. Also, 5G would be using much smaller cells meaning that base stations would be closer to human beings.

Continue reading 5G Millimeter Waves: Are They Really Harmful

Low Density Parity Check Codes

We have previously discussed Block Codes and Convolutional Codes and their coding and decoding techniques particularly syndrome-based decoding and Viterbi decoding. Now we discuss an advanced form of Block Codes known as Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) codes. These codes were first proposed by Robert Gallager in 1960 but they did not get immediate recognition as they were quite cumbersome to code and decode. But in 1995 the interest in these codes was revived, after discovery of Turbo Codes. Both these codes achieve the Shannon Limit and have been adopted in many wireless communication systems including 5G.

Continue reading Low Density Parity Check Codes

Convolutional Codes and Viterbi Decoding

In the previous post we discussed block codes and their decoding mechanisms. It was observed that with syndrome-based decoding there is only a minimal advantage over the no coding case. With Maximal Likelihood (ML) decoding there is significant improvement in performance but computational complexity increases exponentially with length of the code and alphabet size. This is where convolutional codes come to the rescue.

Continue reading Convolutional Codes and Viterbi Decoding

Hamming Codes

We have previously discussed modulation and demodulation in wireless communications, now we turn our attention to channel coding. We know that in a wireless channel the transmitted information gets corrupted due to noise and fading and we get what are called bit errors. One way to overcome this problem is to transmit the same information multiple times. In coding terminology this is called a repetition code. But this is not recommended as it results in reduced data rate and reduced spectral efficiency.

Continue reading Hamming Codes

Phase Lock Loop – Explained

Phase Lock Loops (PLLs) are an important component of communication systems, where they are used for carrier phase and frequency synchronization. They are also used in test and measurement equipment such as in Signal Generators and Vector Network Analyzers (VNAs) for frequency synthesis. Although not discussed here in detail but PLLs are also quite adept at generating multiples of a base frequency e.g. if you have a reference signal at 10MHz then a PLL can be used to generate a 100MHz signal (X=10) or even a 1GHz signal (X=100). In fact, you can also divide the frequency to get low frequency signals. In the first case the feedback frequency is divided by X and in the second case the reference or input frequency is divided by X.

Continue reading Phase Lock Loop – Explained