January 01, 2017

Operating Massive MIMO in the Unlicensed Band for Enhanced Coexistence and Spatial Reuse

  • Bonfante A.
  • Claussen H.
  • Galati Giordano L.
  • Garcia Rodriguez A.
  • Geraci G.
  • Lopez-Perez D.

We propose to operate massive multiple-input multiple output (MIMO) cellular base stations (BSs) in unlicensed bands. We denote such system as massive MIMO unlicensed (mMIMO-U). We design the key procedures required at a cellular BS to guarantee coexistence with nearby Wi-Fi devices operating in the same band. In particular, spatial reuse is enhanced by actively suppressing interference towards neighboring Wi-Fi devices. Wi-Fi interference rejection is also performed during an enhanced listen-before-talk phase. These operations enable Wi-Fi devices to access the channel as though no cellular BSs were transmitting, and vice versa. Under concurrent Wi-Fi and BS transmissions, the rates attainable by cellular user equipment (UEs) are degraded by the Wi-Fi-generated interference. To mitigate this effect, we select a suitable set of UEs to be served in the unlicensed band accounting for a measure of the Wi-Fi/UE proximity. Our results show that the so-designed mMIMO-U allows simultaneous cellular and Wi-Fi transmissions by keeping their mutual interference below the regulatory threshold. As a result, cellular BSs can achieve large data rates without significantly degrading the performance of Wi-Fi networks deployed within their coverage area.

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