What is spectral efficiency though?
Spectral efficiency can be defined as bits/seconds/Hz/cell. It measures how well a wireless network utilizes radio spectrum and also determines the total throughput each base station (cell) can support in a network in a given amount of spectrum.
There is no doubt that if a new air interface is to be build it should be built from the ground up to be optimized for spatial processing. Spectral efficiency directly affects an operator’s cost structure. For a given service and grade of service, it determines the following:
- Required amount of spectrum (CapEx),
- Required number of base stations (CapEx, OpEx),
- Required number of sites and associated site maintenance (OpEx), and,
- Ultimately, consumer pricing and affordability
Spectral efficiency will become even more important as subscriber penetration increases, per-user data rates increase and the as quality of service (esp. data) requirements increase.
There are so many elements for design to achieve high spectral efficiency. Adaptive Antenna System (AAS) is one of the methods to achieve high spectral efficiency.
Adaptive Antenna System (AAS) provides gain and interference mitigation leading to improved signal quality and spectral efficiency.
The use of adaptive antenna systems enables the network operators to increase the wireless network capacity, where such networks are expected to experience an enormous increase in the traffic. This is due to the increased number of users as well as the high data rate service and applications. In addition, adaptive antenna systems offer the potential of increased spectrum efficiency, extended range of coverage and higher rate of frequency reuse.
Adaptive antenna systems consist of multiple antenna elements at the transmitting and/or receiving side of the communication link, whose signals are processed adaptively in order to exploit the spatial dimension of the mobile radio channel. Depending on whether the processing is performed at the transmitter, receiver, or both ends of the communication link, the adaptive antenna technique is defined as multiple-input single-output (MISO), single-input multiple-output (SIMO), or multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO).
Multipath propagation, defined as the creation of multipath signal paths between the transmitter and the receiver due to the reflection of the transmitted signal by physical obstacles, is one of the major problems of mobile communications. It is well known that the delay spread and resulting inter symbol interference (ISI) due to multiple signal paths arriving at the receiver at different times have a critical impact on communication link quality. On the other hand, co-channel interference is the major limiting factor on the capacity of wireless communication systems, resulting from the reuse of the available network resources (e.g., frequency and time) by a number of users.
Adaptive antenna systems can improve link quality by combining the effects of multipath propagation or constructively exploiting the different data streams from different antennas. More specifically, the benefits of adaptive antennas can be summarized as follows:
- Increased range/coverage: the array or beam forming gain is the average increase in signal power at the receiver due to a coherent combination of the signal received at all antenna elements. The adaptive antenna gain compared to a single element antenna can be increased by an amount equal to the number of array elements, e.g., an eight element array can provide a gain of eight (9 dB).
- Increased Capacity: One of the main reasons of the growing interest of adaptive antennas is the capacity increase. In densely populated areas, mobile systems are normally interference-limited; meaning that interference from other users is the main source of noise in the system. This means that the signal to interference ratio (SIR) is much larger than the signal to thermal noise ratio (SNR). Adaptive antennas will on average, increase the SIR. Experimental results report up to 10 dB increase in average SIR in urban areas. For UMTS networks, a fivefold capacity gain has been reported for CDMA.
- Lower power requirements and/or cost reduction: Optimizing transmission toward the wanted user achieves lower power consumption and amplifier costs.
- Improved link quality/reliability: Diversity gain is obtained by receiving independent replicas of the signal through independently fading signal components. Based on the fact that one or more of these signal components will not be in a deep fade, the availability of multiple independent dimensions reduces the effective fluctuations of the signal.
- Increased spectral efficiency: Spectral efficiency is a measure of the amount of information –billable services- that carried by the wireless system per unit of spectrum. It is measured in bits/second/Hertz/cell, thus it includes the effect of multiple access methods, modulation methods, channel organization and resource reuse (e.g., code, timeslot, carrier). Spectral efficiency plays an important role since it directly affects the operator cost structure. Moreover, for a given service and QoS, it determines the required amount of spectrum, the required number of base stations, the required number of sites –and associated site maintenance-, and ultimately, consumer pricing and affordability. Equation (1) shows a simplified formula to estimate the required number of cells per square kilometer. (the offered load is in bits/seconds/km2).
- Security: It is more difficult to tap a connation, since the intruder has to be position himself in the same direction of arrival as the user.
- Reduction of handoff: there is no need for splitting the cells for the sake of capacity increase, and in consequence less amount of handoff.
- Spatial information: the spatial information about the user would be available at any given time, which enables the introduction of Location Based Services.
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits and liken any other systems AAS has got it’s own drawbacks as well. One must point out the following drawbacks (or costs) of the adaptive antennas:
- Transceiver Complexity: It is obvious that the adaptive antenna transceiver is much more complex than the conventional one. This comes from the fact that the adaptive antenna transceiver will need separate transceiver chains for each of the array elements and accurate real-time calibration of each of them.
- Resource Management: Adaptive antennas are mainly a radio technology, but they will also put new demands on network functions such as resource and mobility management. When a new connection is to be set up or the existing connection is to be handed over to a new base station, no angular information is available to the new base station and some means to “find” the mobile station is necessary.
- Physical Size: For the adaptive antenna to obtain a reasonable gain, an array antenna with several elements is necessary. Typically arrays are consisting of six to ten horizontally separated elements have been suggested for outdoor mobile environments. The necessary element spacing is 0.4-0.5 wavelengths. This means that an eight-element antenna would be approximately 1.2 meters wide at 900 MHz and 60 cm at 2 GHz. With a growing public demand for less visible base stations, this size, although not excessive, could provide a problem.
An Adaptive Antenna System (AAS) can focus its transmit energy to the direction of a receiver. While receiving, it can focus to the direction of the transmitting device. The technique used in AAS is known as beamforming or beamsteering or beamshaping. It works by adjusting the width and the angle of the antenna radiation pattern (a.k.a. the beam). Combined with multiple antennas in the Base Station (BS), AAS can be used to serve multiple Subscriber Stations (SSs) with higher throughput. A technique known as SDMA (Space Division Multiple Access) is employed here where multiple SSs that are separated (in space) can transmit and receive at the same time over the same sub-channel.
AAS also eliminates interference to and from other SSs and other sources by steering the nulls to the direction of interferers.AAS is feature suits very well for LTE and it is an optional feature in WiMAX as it yet to be included in WiMAX certification. But due to its effectiveness in improving performance and coverage especially in Mobile WiMAX case, many vendors integrate AAS capability into their products.