Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beamforming or AAS Technogies | Advanced Antenna Technologies in WiMAX

Beamforming or AAS Technogies
Add a Note HereBeamforming technologies may be encountered behind several wordings: smart antenna, beamforming and Adaptive Antenna System (AAS). In the following beamforming will be used.
Beamforming Basics
Add a Note HereThe main objective of beamforming technology is to take benefit from the space/time nature of the propagation channel. Indeed, due to multiple reflections, diffraction and scattering on the transmitter to receiver path in a cellular environment, the energy reaching the BS comes from multiple directions, each direction being affected by a different attenuation and phase.
Add a Note HereIn a macrocellular environment (i.e. the antenna of the BS is above the rooftop) the signals reaching the BS are inside a cone. The angular spread of the signal depends on the environment. In a urban environment, the angular spread is of the order of 20 degrees. In a more open environment, like in a rural environment, the angular spread is a few degrees.
Add a Note HereIn the uplink, the beamforming technology principle is to coherently combine the signals received for N antenna elements of an antenna array. A generic beamforming diagram is shown in Figure 1. A block diagram of a beamforming receiver (respectively transmitter) with an N-element antenna array is shown in Figure 1 (respectively Figure 2). In the case of a block diagram of a beamforming receiver with an N-element antenna array, a signal processing unit analyses the same signal received from the N antenna elements and computes weights (wi) that are applied on each path for combining.

Figure 1: Example of a block diagram of a beamforming receiver with an N-element antenna array

Figure 2: Example of a block diagram of a beamforming transmitter with an N-element antenna array
Add a Note HereOn the downlink, the processing is very similar to the uplink. Based on the information measured on the signal received in the uplink, it is possible to estimate the Direction of Arrival (DoA) from the uplink signal and to apply different weights, zi (amplitude and phase), to the different transmit paths of the same signal, so that the resulting antenna pattern focuses towards the direction of the user.
Add a Note HereSince the weights in the downlink depend on the uplink signals, this assumes certain channel reciprocity between the uplink and downlink signals since the BS do not know the downlink spatial channel response. Actually, the reciprocity can more realistically be assumed in the case of the TDD system since the uplink and downlink signals use the same frequency at different time intervals. On the FDD system, the reciprocity is more difficult to assess.
Add a Note HereIn fact, beamforming technology encompasses several techniques. First implementations of beamforming were based on simple antenna switching mechanisms: in that approach, the elements of the antenna array where simply switched on or off according to the received signals. This has the advantage of simplicity but the possibility for beamforming is limited. Today, beamforming uses an adaptive array: the amplitude and phase of each antenna element can be set independently. This has the advantage of having the possibility to achieve infinity of beams.
Add a Note HereWith adaptive beamforming, several optimising strategies may be used. The signal processing unit must maximise the received CINR. This can be achieved by having a resulting antenna pattern such that the antenna array creates a null in the direction of arrival of a strong interferer. However, the number of interferers that can be cancelled are limited by the number of elements constituting the array: with N antenna elements, it possible to have at most null N1 interferers. In addition, this technique requires a good knowledge of the radio environment (which may imply additional overheads). This explains why in many implemented systems this method is mainly used in the uplink, where the BS can have maximum knowledge of the radio environment.
Add a Note HereFinally, an advanced implementation of beamforming can enable SDMA (Spatial Division Multiple Access). Provided that two or more users are sufficiently separated in space, it is possible to send them at the same time, on the same physical resources, different information on different beams. Nevertheless, the use of SDMA is quite difficult in a mobile environment where MSs that may be well separated at a given moment may be in the same direction at the next moment. 
Related Posts with Thumbnails