Information-theoretic analysis of MIMO channel sounding


Daniel S. Baum and Helmut Bölcskei


IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Vol. 57, No. 11, pp. 7555-7577, Nov. 2011.

DOI: 10.1109/TIT.2011.2165129

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The large majority of commercially available multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) radio channel measurement devices (sounders) is based on time-division multiplexed switching (TDMS) of a single transmit/receive radio frequency chain into the elements of a transmit/receive antenna array. While being cost-effective, such a solution can cause significant measurement errors due to phase noise and frequency offset in the local oscillators. In this paper, we systematically analyze the resulting errors and show that, in practice, overestimation of channel capacity by several hundred percent can occur. Overestimation is caused by phase noise (and to a lesser extent by frequency offset) leading to an increase of the MIMO channel rank. Our analysis furthermore reveals that the impact of phase errors is, in general, most pronounced if the physical channel has low rank (typical for line-of-sight or poor scattering scenarios). The extreme case of a rank-1 physical channel is analyzed in detail. The capacity bounds derived in this paper show excellent agreement with measurement results. In light of the findings of this paper, the results obtained through MIMO channel measurement campaigns using TDMS-based channel sounders should be interpreted with great care.


Channel measurement, multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), phase noise, sounding

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