January 01, 2020

Towards Massive MIMO 2.0: Understanding spatial correlation, interference suppression, and pilot contamination

  • Bjornson E.
  • Hoydis J.
  • Sanguinetti L.

Since the seminal paper by Marzetta from 2010, Massive MIMO has changed from being a theoretical concept with an infinite number of antennas to a practical technology. The key concepts are adopted in 5G and base stations (BSs) with M = 64 full-digital transceivers have been commercially deployed. The fast progress was enabled by many solid research contributions, whereof the vast majority assume spatially uncorrelated channels and signal processing schemes developed for single-cell operation. These assumptions make the performance analysis and optimization of Massive MIMO tractable but have three major caveats: 1) practical channels are spatially correlated; 2) large performance gains can be obtained by multicell processing, without BS cooperation; 3) the interference caused by pilot contamination creates a finite capacity limit, as M ! 1. There is a thin line of papers that avoided these caveats, but the results are easily missed. Hence, this tutorial article explains the importance of considering spatial channel correlation and using signal processing schemes designed for multicell networks. We present recent results on the fundamental limits of Massive MIMO, which are not determined by pilot contamination but the ability to acquire channel statistics. These results will guide the journey towards the next level of Massive MIMO, which we call "Massive MIMO 2.0".

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