We have previously discussed the bit error rate (BER) performance of M-QAM in AWGN. We now discuss the BER performance of M-QAM in Rayleigh fading. The one-tap Rayleigh fading channel is generated from two orthogonal Gaussian random variables with variance of 0.5 each. The complex random channel coefficient so generated has an amplitude which is Rayleigh distributed and a phase which is uniformly distributed. As usual the fading channel introduces a multiplicative effect whereas the AWGN is additive.

The function “QAM_fading” has three inputs, ‘n_bits’, ‘M’, ‘EbNodB’ and one output ‘ber’. The inputs are the number of bits to be passed through the channel, the alphabet size and the Energy per Bit to Noise Power Spectral Density in dB respectively whereas the output is the bit error rate (BER).

```
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
% FUNCTION THAT CALCULATES THE BER OF M-QAM IN RAYLEIGH FADING
% n_bits: Input, number of bits
% M: Input, constellation size
% EbNodB: Input, energy per bit to noise power spectral density
% ber: Output, bit error rate
% Copyright RAYmaps (www.raymaps.com)
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
function[ber]= QAM_fading(n_bits, M, EbNodB)
% Transmitter
k=log2(M);
EbNo=10^(EbNodB/10);
x=transpose(round(rand(1,n_bits)));
h1=modem.qammod(M);
h1.inputtype='bit';
h1.symbolorder='gray';
y=modulate(h1,x);
% Channel
Eb=mean((abs(y)).^2)/k;
sigma=sqrt(Eb/(2*EbNo));
w=sigma*(randn(n_bits/k,1)+1i*randn(n_bits/k,1));
h=(1/sqrt(2))*(randn(n_bits/k,1)+1i*randn(n_bits/k,1));
r=h.*y+w;
% Receiver
r=r./h;
h2=modem.qamdemod(M);
h2.outputtype='bit';
h2.symbolorder='gray';
h2.decisiontype='hard decision';
z=demodulate(h2,r);
ber=(n_bits-sum(x==z))/n_bits
return
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
```

The bit error rates of four modulation schemes 4-QAM, 16-QAM, 64-QAM and 256-QAM are shown in the figure above. All modulation schemes use Gray coding which gives a few dB of margin in the BER performance. As with the AWGN case each additional bit per symbol requires about 1.5-2 dB in signal to ratio to achieve the same BER.

Although not shown here similar behavior is observed for higher order modulation schemes such as 1024-QAM and 4096-QAM (the gap in the signal to noise ratio for the same BER is increased to about 5dB).

Lastly we explain some of the terms used above.

**Rayleigh Fading**

Rayleigh Fading is a commonly used term in simulation of Digital Communication Systems but it tends to differ in meaning in different contexts. The term Rayleigh Fading as used above means a single tap channel that varies from one symbol to the next. It has an amplitude which is Rayleigh distributed and a phase which is Uniformly distributed. A single tap channel means that it does not introduce any Inter Symbol Interference (ISI). Such a channel is also referred to as a Flat Fading Channel. The channel can also be referred to as a Fast Fading Channel since each symbol experiences a new channel state which is independent of its previous state (also termed as uncorrelated).

**Gray Coding**

When using QAM modulation, each QAM symbol represents 2,3,4 or higher number of bits. That means that when a symbol error occurs a number of bits are reversed. Now a good way to do the bit-to-symbol assignment is to do it in a way such that no neighboring symbols differ by more than one bit e.g. in 16-QAM, a symbol that represents a binary word 1101 is surrounded by four symbols representing 0101, 1100, 1001 and 1111. So if a symbol error is made, only one bit would be in error. However, one must note that this is true only in good signal conditions. When the SNR is low (noise has a higher magnitude) the symbol might be displaced to a location that is not adjacent and we might get higher number of bits in error.

**Hard Decision**

The concept of hard decision decoding is important when talking about channel coding, which we have not used in the above simulation. However, we will briefly explain it here. Hard decision is based on what is called “Hamming Distance” whereas soft decision is based on what it called “Euclidean Distance”. Hamming Distance is the distance of a code word in binary form, such as 011 differs from 010 and 001 by 1. Whereas the Euclidean distance is the distance before a decision is made that a bit is zero or one. So if the received sequence is 0.1 0.6 0.7 we get a Euclidean distance of 0.8124 from 010 and 0.6782 from 001. So we cannot make a hard decision about which sequence was transmitted based on the received sequence of 011. But based on the soft metrics we can make a decision that 001 was the most likely sequence that was transmitted (assuming that 010 and 001 were the only possible transmitted sequences).