Category Archives: WiMAX

QAM Theoretical BER in AWGN

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) is an important modulation scheme as it allows for higher data rates and spectral efficiencies. The bit error rate (BER) of QAM can be calculated through Monte Carlo simulations. However this becomes quite complex as the constellation size of the modulation schemes increases. Therefore a theoretical approach is sometimes preferred. The BER for Gray coded QAM, for even number of bits per symbol, is shown below.

BER of 4-QAM, 16-QAM, 64-QAM, 256-QAM in AWGN
BER of 4-QAM, 16-QAM, 64-QAM, 256-QAM in AWGN

Gray coding ensures that a symbol error results in a single bit error. The code for calculating the theoretical QAM BER for k even (even number of bits per symbol) is given below. The formula for calculating the BER for k odd is different, however, the formula given below can be used a first estimate.


1. Each additional bit/symbol requires about 2dB extra in SNR to achieve the same BER.
2. 4-QAM is essentially QPSK modulation.

MIMO Capacity in a Fading Environment

The Shannon Capacity of a channel is the data rate that can be achieved over a given bandwidth (BW) and at a particular signal to noise ratio (SNR) with diminishing bit error rate (BER). This has been discussed in an earlier post for the case of SISO channel and additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN). For a MIMO fading channel the capacity with channel not known to the transmitter is given as (both sides have been normalized by the bandwidth [1]):

Shannon Capacity of a MIMO Channel
Shannon Capacity of a MIMO Channel

where NT is the number of transmit antennas, NR is the number of receive antennas, γ is the signal to interference plus noise ratio (SINR), INR is the NRxNR identity matrix and H is the NRxNT channel matrix. Furthermore, hij, an element of the matrix H defines the complex channel coefficient between the ith receive antenna and jth transmit antenna. It is quite obvious that the channel capacity (in bits/sec/Hz) is highly dependent on the structure of matrix H. Let us explore the effect of H on the channel capacity.

Let us first consider a 4×4 case (NT=4, NR=4) where the channel is a simple AWGN channel and there is no fading. For this case hij=1 for all values of i and j. It is found that channel capacity of this simple channel for an SINR of 10 dB is 5.36bits/sec/Hz. It is further observed that the channel capacity does not change with number of transmit antennas and increases logarithmically with increase in number of receive antennas. Thus it can be concluded that in an AWGN channel no multiplexing gain is obtained by increasing the number of transmit antennas.

We next consider a more realistic scenario where the channel coefficients hij are complex with real and imaginary parts having a Gaussian distribution with zero mean and variance 0.5. Since the channel H is random the capacity is also a random variable with a certain distribution. An important metric to quantify the capacity of such a channel is the Complimentary Cumulative Distribution Function (CCDF). This curve basically gives the probability that the MIMO capacity is above a certain threshold.

Complimentary Cumulative Distribution Function of Capacity
Complimentary Cumulative Distribution Function of Capacity

It is obvious (see figure above) that there is a very high probability that the capacity obtained for the MIMO channel is significantly higher than that obtained for an AWGN channel e.g. for an SINR of 9 dB there is 90% probability that the capacity is greater than 8 bps/Hz. Similarly for an SINR of 12 dB there is a 90% probability that the capacity is greater than 11 bps/Hz. For a stricter threshold of 99% the above capacities are reduced to 7.2 bps/Hz and 9.6 bps/Hz.

In a practical system the channel coefficients hij would have some correlation which would depend upon the antenna spacing. Lower the antenna spacing higher would be the antenna correlation and lower would be the MIMO system capacity. This would be discussed in a future post.

The MATLAB code for calculating the CCDF of channel capacity of a MIMO channel is given below.

clear all
close all


for n=1:10000

xlabel('Capacity (bps/Hz)')
ylabel('Probability (Capacity > Abcissa)')
grid on

[1] G. J. Foschini and M. J. Gans,”On limits of Wireless Communications in a Fading Environment when Using Multiple Antennas”, Wireless Personal Communications 6, pp 311-335, 1998.


1. Channel bandwidth Full system bandwidth Variable system bandwidth to accommodate users with different data rates, 1.25, 2.50, 5.00, 10.00, 15.00 and 20.00 MHz, actual transmission bandwidth is a bit lower than this
2. Frequency-selective scheduling Not possible A key advantage of OFDMA, although it requires accurate real-time feedback of channel conditions from receiver to transmitter
3. Symbol period Very short—inverse of the system bandwidth Very long—defined by subcarrier spacing and independent of system bandwidth
4. Equalization Complicated time domain equalization Simple frequency domain equalization
5. Resistance to mulitpath Rake receiver can combine various multipath components Highly resistant to multipath due to insertion of cyclic prefix (CP)
6. Suitability for MIMO MIMO is not suited to a wideband frequency selective channel MIMO is suited to the independent narrowband flat fading channels that the subcarriers provide
7. Resistance to narrowband interference Resistant to narrow band interference Some subcarriers to be affected by narrowband interference
8. Separation of users Scrambling and orthogonal spreading codes Frequency and time although scrambling and spreading can be added as well

Reference: Agilent 3GPP Long Term Evolution System Overview, Product Development and Test Challenges Application Note.

A Rayleigh Fading Simulator with Temporal and Spatial Correlation

Just to recap, building an LTE fading simulator with the desired temporal and spatial correlation is a three step procedure.

1. Generate Rayleigh fading sequences using Smith’s method which is based on Clarke and Gan’s fading model.

2. Introduce spatial correlation based upon the spatial correlation matrices defined in 3GPP 36.101.

3. Use these spatially and temporally correlated sequences as the filter taps for the LTE channel models.

We have already discussed step 1 and 3 in our previous posts. We now focus on step 2, generating spatially correlated channels coefficients.

3GPP has defined spatial correlation matrices for the Node-B and the UE. These are defined for 1,2 and 4 transmit and receive antennas. These are reproduced below.

Spatial Correlation Matrix
Spatial Correlation Matrix

The parameters ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ are defined as:

Low Correlation
alpha=0, beta=0

Medium Correlation
alpha=0.3, beta=0.9

High Correlation
alpha=0.9, beta=0.9

The combined effect of antenna correlation at the transmitter and receiver is obtained by taking the Kronecker product of individual correlation matrices e.g. for a 2×2 case the correlation matrix is given as:

Correlation Matrix for 2x2 MIMO
Correlation Matrix for 2×2 MIMO

Multiplying the square root of the correlation matrix with the vector of channel coefficients is equivalent to taking a weighted average e.g. for the channel between transmit antenna 1 and receive antenna 1 the correlated channel coefficient h11corr is given as:


where w1=1 and w2, w3 and w4 are less than one and greater than zero. For the high correlation case described above the channel coefficient is calculated as:


From a practical point of antenna correlation is dependent on the antenna separation. Greater the antenna spacing lower is the antenna correlation and better the system performance. However, a base station requires much higher antenna spacing than a UE to achieve the same level of antenna correlation. This is due to the fact the base station antennas are placed much higher than a UE. Therefore the signals arriving at the base station are usually confined to smaller angles and experience similar fading. A UE on the other hand has a lot of obstacles in the surrounding areas which results in higher angle spread and uncorrelated fading between the different paths.

Building an LTE Channel Simulator

As discussed previously building an LTE fading simulator is a three step procedure.

1. Generate a temporally correlated Rayleigh fading sequence. This step would be repeated for each channel tap and transmit receive antenna combination e.g. for a 2×2 MIMO system and EPA channel model with 7 taps the number of fading sequences to be generated is 4×7=28. The temporal correlation of these fading sequences is controlled by the Doppler frequency. A higher Doppler frequency results in faster channel variations and vice versa.

2. Introduce spatial correlation between the parallel paths e.g. for a 2×2 MIMO system a 4×4 antenna corelation matrix would be used to introduce spatial correlation between the 4 parallel paths h11, h12, h21 and h22. This can be thought of as a weighted average. A channel coefficient between Tx-1 and Rx-1 would be calculated as h11=w1*h11+w2*h12+w3*h21+w4*h22. In this case the weight ‘w1’ would have a value of 1 whereas the other weights would have a value less than 1. If w2=w3=w4=0 there is no correlation between h11 and other channel coefficients.

2-Transmit 2-Receive Channel Model
2-Transmit 2-Receive Channel Model

3. Once the sequences with the desired temporal and spatial correlation have been generated their mean power would have to be adjusted according to the power delay profile of the selected channel model (EPA, EVA or ETU). The number of channel coefficients increases exponentially with the number of transmit and receiver antennas e.g. for a 4×4 MIMO system each filter tap would have to be calculated after performing a weighted average of 16 different channel taps. And this step would have to be repeated for each filter tap resulting in a total of 16×7=112 fading sequences.

We have already discussed step 1 in detail. We would now elaborate on step 2 i.e. generation of spatially correlated fading sequences.



Can We Do Without a Cyclic Prefix

Have you ever thought that Cyclic Prefix in OFDM is just a gimmick and we could do equally well by using a guard period i.e. a period of no transmission between two OFDM symbols. Well, one way to find out if this is true is by running a bit error rate simulation with and without a cyclic prefix (only a vacant guard period). We use the 64-QAM OFDM simulation that we developed previously. The channel is modeled as 7-tap FIR filter with each tap having a Rayleigh distribution.

BER with and without Cyclic Prefix
BER with and without Cyclic Prefix

We simulate the case of a vacant guard period by inserting zeros in the time slot dedicated for the CP (32 samples). It is observed that there is a vast difference in the bit error rate (BER) for the two cases. In fact in the case of no CP the BER hits an error floor at around 20 dB. Increasing the signal to noise ratio does not improve the BER performance any further.

Now to answer the question “why does the CP work” we have to revisit the concept of circular convolution from our DSP course. It is well known that performing circular convolution of two sequences in the time domain is equivalent to multiplication of their DFT’s in the frequency domain. So if a wireless channel performed circular convolution we could do simple division to recover the signal after the FFT operation in the receiver.

Y(k)=X(k)*H(k) Effect of Wireless Channel

X(k)=Y(k)/H(k) Recovery of the Signal

But the wireless channel does not perform circular convolution, it performs linear convolution. So the trick is to make this linear convolution appear as circular convolution by appending a cyclic prefix. The result is that equalization can be performed at the receiver by simple division.

For a more elaborate discussion on this you may visit CP-1 or for a mathematical description you may visit CP-2.

Note: In a actual system there would be AWGN noise added to the received signal as well. Giving us the following relationships.

Y(k)=X(k)*H(k)+W(k) Effect of Wireless Channel

X(k)’=Y(k)/H(k)=X(k)+W(k)/H(k) Recovery of the Signal