Advanced Antenna Systems

The WiMAX standard provides extensive support for implementing advanced  multiantenna solutions to improve system performance. Significant gains in overall system capacity and spectral efficiency can be achieved by deploying the optional advanced antenna systems (AAS) defined in WiMAX. AAS includes support for a variety of multiantenna solutions, including transmit diversity, beamforming, and spatial multiplexing.

Transmit diversity:

WiMAX defines a number of space-time block coding schemes that can be used to provide transmit diversity in the downlink. For transmit diversity, there could be two or more transmit antennas and one or more receive antennas. The space-time block code (STBC) used for the 2 × 1 antenna case is the Alamouti codes, which are orthogonal and amenable to maximum likelihood detection.

The Alamouti STBC is quite easy to implement and offers the same diversity gain as 1 × 2 receiver diversity with maximum ratio combining, albeit with a 3 dB penalty owing to redundant transmissions. But transmit diversity offers the advantage that the complexity is shifted to the base station, which helps to keep the MS cost low. In addition to the 2 × 1 case, WiMAX also defines STBCs for the three- and four-antenna cases.

Beamforming:

Multiple antennas in WiMAX may also be used to transmit the same signal appropriately weighted for each antenna element such that the effect is to focus the transmitted beam in the direction of the receiver and away from interference, thereby improving the received
SINR. Beamforming can provide significant improvement in the coverage range,  capacity, and reliability.

To perform transmit beamforming, the transmitter needs to have accurate knowledge of the channel, which in the case of TDD is easily available owing to channel reciprocity but for FDD requires a feedback channel to learn the channel characteristics. WiMAX supports beamforming in both the uplink and the downlink. For the uplink, this often takes the form of receive beamforming.