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Communications Engineering Desk Reference

Communications Engineering Desk Reference

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Communications Engineering Desk Reference

5/5 (1 rating)
1,645 pages
Mar 23, 2009


A one-stop Desk Reference, for R&D engineers involved in communications engineering; this is a book that will not gather dust on the shelf. It brings together the essential professional reference content from leading international contributors in the field. Material covers a wide scope of topics including voice, computer, facsimile, video, and multimedia data technologies

* A fully searchable Mega Reference Ebook, providing all the essential material needed by Communications Engineers on a day-to-day basis.
* Fundamentals, key techniques, engineering best practice and rules-of-thumb together in one quick-reference.
* Over 2,500 pages of reference material, including over 1,500 pages not included in the print edition
Mar 23, 2009

About the author

Erik Dahlman works at Ericsson Research and are deeply involved in 4G and 5G development and standardization since the early days of 3G research.

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Communications Engineering Desk Reference - Erik Dahlman

Communications Engineering Desk Reference

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page

Note from the Publisher


Author Biographies


Chapter 1.0: Introduction

A short history of wireless communication

Where we are

Where we are going



Chapter 2.1: Basic features of radio communication systems

2.1.1 Introduction

2.1.2 Radio communication systems

2.1.3 Modulation and demodulation

2.1.4 Radio wave propagation techniques

2.1.5 Antennas and aerials

2.1.6 Antenna arrays

2.1.7 Antenna distribution systems

2.1.8 Radio receivers

2.1.9 Radio receiver properties

2.1.10 Types of receivers

2.1.11 Summary

Chapter 2.2: Transmission lines

2.2.1 Introduction

2.2.2 Transmission line basics

2.2.3 Types of electrical transmission lines

2.2.4 Line characteristic impedances and physical parameters

2.2.5 Characteristic impedanc (Z0) from primary electrical parameters

2.2.6 Characteristic impedance (Z0) by measurement

2.2.7 Typical commercial cable impedances

2.2.8 Signal propagation on transmission lines

2.2.9 Waveform distortion and frequency dispersion

2.2.10 Transmission lines of finite length

2.2.11 Reflection transmission coefficients and VSWR

2.2.12 Propagation constant (γ) of transmission lines

2.2.13 Transmission lines as electrical components

2.2.14 Transmission line couplers

2.2.15 Summary

Chapter 2.3: Software defined radio

What Is software-defined radio?

Aspects of SDR

History and evolution of software-defined radio

Applications and need for SDR


Implementation issues

Case study: A close look at a CDMA2000 and UMTS SDR receiver


Chapter 2.4a: The software defined radio as a platform for cognitive radio

2.4a.1 Introduction

2.4a.2 Hardware architecture

2.4a.3 Software architecture

2.4a.4 SDR development and design

2.4a.5 Applications

2.4a.6 Development

2.4a.7 Cognitive waveformdevelopment

2.4a.8 Summary

Chapter 2.4b: Cognitive radio: The technologies required

2.4b.1 Introduction

2.4b.2 Radio flexibility and capability

2.4b.3 Aware, adaptive, and CRs

2.4b.4 Comparison of radio capabilities and properties

2.4b.5 Available technologies for CRs

2.4b.6 Funding and research in CRs

2.4b.7 Timeline for CRs

2.4b.8 Summary and conclusions

Chapter 2.5: Introduction to RF and microwave radiation

Radio frequency (RF) radiation

History of radio transmission

The nature of radio waves

Frequency and wavelength

Conveying intelligence by radio waves

Ionising and non-ionising radiations

Explanation of terms used

Use of the decibel


Chapter 3.1: Data and voice traffic

Packet switching versus circuit switching

Data traffic characteristics

Voice traffic characteristics

Chapter 3.2: Network infrastructure

Voice networking

Basic telephony

Time division multiplexing

Voice over ATM

Voice over Frame Relay

Voice over Internet Protocol

Chapter 3.3: VoIP Technology

Voice traffic needs in an IP network

PC Considerations using IP softphone

IP Network protocols to support voice

Other elements that affect VoIP

Network design recommendations

Chapter 3.4: Channel protection fundamentals

3.4.1 Introduction

3.4.2 Shannon’s source and channel theorems

3.4.3 Channel coding and error control for bit errors and packet losses

3.4.4 Hierarchical modulation

3.4.5 Automatic repeat request, hybrid FEC/ARQ

3.4.6 Summary and further reading

Chapter 3.5: Network adaptive media transport

3.5.1 Introduction

3.5.2 Rate-distortion optimized streaming

3.5.3 Rich acknowledgments

3.5.4 Multiple deadlines

3.5.5 Dependent packet delays

3.5.6 Congestion–distortion optimized scheduling

3.5.7 Summary and further reading

Chapter 3.6: Real-time communication over networks

3.6.1 Introduction

3.6.2 Architecture and fundamentals

3.6.3 Quality of service

3.6.4 Summary and further reading

Chapter 3.7: Wireless sensor networks

3.7.1 Unique constraints and challenges

3.7.2 Advantages of sensor networks

3.7.3 Sensor network applications

3.7.4 Collaborative processing

3.7.5 Key definitions of sensor networks


Chapter 4.1: Background of 3G evolution

4.1.1 History and background of 3G

4.1.2 Standardization

4.1.3 Spectrum for 3G

Chapter 4.2: The motives behind the 3G evolution

4.2.1 Driving forces

4.2.2 3G Evolution: Two radio access network approaches and an evolved core network

Chapter 4.3: High data rates in mobile communications

4.3.1 High data rates: Fundamental constraints

4.3.2 Higher data rates within a limited bandwidth: Higher-order modulation

4.3.3 Wider bandwidth including multi-carrier transmission

Chapter 4.4: OFDM transmission

4.4.1 Basic principles of OFDM

4.4.2 OFDM demodulation

4.4.3 OFDM implementation using IFFT/FFT processing

4.4.4 Cyclic-prefix insertion

4.4.5 Frequency-domain model of OFDM transmission

4.4.6 Channel estimation and reference symbols

4.4.7 Frequency diversity with OFDM: Importance of channel coding

4.4.8 Selection of basic OFDM parameters

4.4.9 Variations in instantaneous transmission power

4.4.10 OFDM as a user-multiplexing and multiple-access scheme

4.4.11 Multi-cell broadcast/multicast transmission and OFDM

Chapter 4.5: Scheduling, link adaptation and hybrid ARQ

4.5.1 Link adaptation: Power and rate control

4.5.2 Channel-dependent scheduling

4.5.3 Advanced retransmission schemes

4.5.4 Hybrid ARQ with soft combining

Chapter 4.6: WCDMA evolution: HSPA and MBMS

4.6.1 WCDMA: brief overview

Chapter 4.7: Propagation modelling and channel characterisation


Chapter 5.1: Wireless local area networks

5.1.1 Networks large and small

5.1.2 WLANs from LANs

5.1.3 802.11 WLANs

5.1.4 HiperLAN and HiperLAN 2

5.1.5 From LANs to PANs

5.1.6 Capsule summary: Chapter 5.1

Further reading

Chapter 5.2: Short-range wireless applications and technologies

5.2.1 Wireless local area networks (WLAN)

5.2.2 Bluetooth

5.2.3 Zigbee

5.2.4 Conflict and compatibility

5.2.6 Summary


Chapter 6.1: Optical fiber, cable and connectors

6.1.1 Light propagation

6.1.2 Optical fiber characterization

6.1.3 Cable designs

6.1.4 Connectors

6.1.5 Optical fiber bragg gratings


Chapter 7.1: Introduction to video

Analog vs. digital

Video data

Video timing

Video resolution

Audio and video compression

Application block diagrams

Chapter 7.2: Colour spaces

RGB color space

YUV Color space

YIQ Color space

YCbCr Color space

xvYCC Color space

PhotoYCC Color space

HSI, HLS, and HSV Color spaces

Chromaticity diagram

Non-RGB Color space considerations

Gamma correction

Constant luminance problem

Chapter 7.3: Video signals overview

Digital component video background

480i and 480p systems

576i and 576p systems

720p Systems

1080i and 1080p Systems

Other video systems

Chapter 7.4: Video compression

7.4.1 Introduction

7.4.2 Introduction to video compression

7.4.3 Video compression application requirements

7.4.4 Digital video signals and formats

7.4.5 Video compression techniques

7.4.6 Video encoding standards and H.261

7.4.7 Closing remarks

Section 8: APPENDIX

List of acronyms


Information on source books

Note from the Publisher

This book has been compiled using extracts from the following books within the range of Communications Engineering books in the Elsevier collection:

Dowla (2004) Handbook of RF and Wireless Technology, 9780750676953

Da Silva (2001) High Frequency and Microwave Engineering, 9780750650465

Fette (2006) Cognitive Radio Technology, 9780750679527

Kitchen (2001) RF and Microwave Radiation Safety, 9780750643559

Ellis, Pursell and Rahman (2003) Voice, Video and Data Network Convergence, 9780122365423

Van der Schaar and Chou (2007) Multimedia over IP and Wireless Networks, 9780120884803

Zhao and Guibas (2004) Wireless Sensor Networks: An Information Processing Approach, 9781558609143

Dahlman et al. (2007) 3G Evolution, 9780123725332

Correia (2006) Mobile Broadband Multimedia Networks: Techniques, Models and Tools for 4G, 9780123694225

Dobkin (2005) RF Engineering for Wireless Networks, 9780750678735

Bensky (2004) Short Range Wireless Communication, 9780750677820

DeCusatis (2002) Handbook of Fiber Optic Data Communication, 9780122078910

Jack (2007) Video Demystified, 9780750683951

Bovik (2005) Handbook of Image and Video Processing, 9780121197926

The extracts have been taken directly from the above source books, with some small editorial changes. These changes have entailed the re-numbering of Sections and Figures. In view of the breadth of content and style of the source books, there is some overlap and repetition of material between chapters and significant differences in style, but these features have been left in order to retain the flavour and readability of the individual chapters.

End of chapter questions

Within the book, several chapters end with a set of questions; please note that these questions are for reference only. Solutions are not always provided for these questions.

Units of measure

Units are provided in either SI or IP units. A conversion table for these units is provided at the front of the book.

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• Over 1,500 pages of reference material, including over 1,000 pages not included in the print edition

Go to and click on Ebook Available


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First edition 2009

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Author Biographies

Per Beming joined Ericsson in 1994 and he has worked with radio access concept development and standardization, primarily with architecture questions. The most prevalent examples are GPRS, WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE-SAE. He has been a key member of 3GPP TSG RAN since 1999. Currently Per is responsible for standardization at Developing Unit Radio within the Business Unit Networks, and is also manages a group of systems managers working with concept development and standardization.

Alan Bensky is an electronics engineering consultant with over 30 years of experience in analog and digital design, management, and marketing. Specializing in wireless circuits and systems, he has carried out projects for a variety of military and consumer applications and led the development of three patents on wireless distance measurement. He has authored two books on wireless communication and has written several articles in international and local publications. Bensky has taught electrical engineering courses, gives lectures on radio engineering topics and is a senior member of IEEE.

Dr. Alan Bovik is a Professor at the University of Austin in Texas in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Sciences and Biomedical Engineering. He is the inventor or co-inventor of, amongst other well-known inventions, Order Statistic Filters and the Image Modulation Model. He has published over 450 technical articles and holds two U.S. patents. Dr Bovik has received many awards, including the Technical Achievement Award and the Distinguished Lecturer Award of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and has been involved in numerous professional society activities. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas and is a frequent consultant to legal, industrial and academic institutions.

Bruno Clerckx is currently Senior Engineer at Samsung Electronics in Korea. He has been working on 3GPP LTE RAN 1 and is currently involved in IEEE 802.16m. He previously held a visiting research position at the Smart Antennas Research Group (Information Systems Laboratory), Stanford University (CA, USA). He is the author of more than 30 research papers as well as multiple standard contributions. He also holds several Korean and international patents. He received the IEEE Symposium on Communications and Vehicular Technology Best Student Paper Award in 2002.

Dr. Philip A. Chou is a Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington, and manages the Communication and Collaboration Systems research group. He has lectured at the Universities of Stanford, Washington, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He currently serves as coordinator of the awards subcommittee of the IEEE SP Society Multimedia Signal Processing technical committee (MMSP TC). He also serves on the editorial board of the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and is the recipient of, amongst other awards, the Signal Processing Society Paper Award and the IEEE Transactions on Multimedia Best Paper Award.

Luis M. Correia is Professor in Telecommunications at Technical University of Lisbon. He has acted as a consultant for Portuguese GSM operators and the telecommunications regulator. He has authored many papers and communications in international journals and conferences, for which he has served also as a reviewer, editor, and board member. He has served as evaluator and auditor in ACTS, ESPRIT and IST frameworks, besides several national agencies worldwide, and was part of the COST Domain Committee on ICT. He was the Chairman of the Technical Program Committee of PIMRC’ 2002. He is part of the Expert Advisory Group and of the Steering Board of the European eMobility platform.

Dr. Erik Dahlman has been with Ericsson Research since 1993 and where he currently holds a position of Senior Expert in the area of Radio Access Technologies. He has been heavily involved in the development and standardization of 3G radio-access technologies, including WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE, both within local standardization bodies such as ETSI and ARIB, as well as within the global 3GPP organization.

Dr. Ed da Silva is a former Tenured Academic for the Open University Telematics Department and Professor and Head of the Electrical Department at Etisalat College. He spent over fifteen years in the industry in the USA, UK, Japan and Hong Kong, before spending over fifteen years in academia in the UK, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria. He also designed equipment for NASA’s Apollo Moon Landings.

Dr. Casimer DeCusatis is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Technical Executive based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He is an IBM Master Inventor with over 70 patents, and recipient of several industry awards, including the IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award and the EDN Innovator of the Year. He is co-author of more than 100 technical papers, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles, and is also co-leader of the IBM Academy of Technology study Innovation Ecosystems. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, Optical Society of America, and SPIE (the international optical engineering society), and various other professional organizations and honor societies.

Dr. Daniel Dobkin has been involved in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of communications devices, components, and systems for thirty years. He is the author of three books and about 30 technical publications, and holds 7 US patents as inventor or co-inventor. He has twenty years of experience in semiconductor process development, and ten years in radio engineering and RFID. He has taught classes on chemical vapor deposition, antenna principles, and radio-frequency identification in the US and Asia.

Professor Farid Dowla is a senior research engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and has been at LLNL since 1984. His present research interests include high-frequency radio-wave communications, and micro-wave and millimeter-wave radar imaging techniques. He also worked many years in the areas of seismic, acoustics, and biomedical signal processing. He has taught graduate and undergraduate electrical engineering courses in signal processing and communications at U.C. Berkeley and U. C. Davis.

Juanita Ellis has been at the forefront in working with corporations in the areas of Convergence, Computer Security and E-business. Some of these companies include Sony, JcPenney, SWBell, Boeing, Xerox, Bell Atlantic, MCI, Citibank and Toyota. Currently, she helps companies deploy Voice and Data networks, Converged Solutions, VPN Security and Call Center applications. She has also been a keynote speaker for Women in Technology and companies such as Cisco and SWBell. She has lectured for the University of Maryland European Division, Southern Methodist University, National Technology University and UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and Engineering Extension Programs.

Dr. Bruce Fette is Chief Scientist in the Communications Networking Division business area of General Dynamics C4 Systems, working in LSI design, speech signal processing, advanced signal processing for telephony, and RF communications. He has 36 patents and has been awarded the Distinguished Innovator Award. He has also worked with the Software Defined Radio (SDR) Forum from its inception, currently performing the role of Technical Chair, and is a panelist for the IEEE Conference on Acoustics Speech and Signal Processing Industrial Technology Track. Dr. Fette currently heads the General Dynamics Signal Processing Center of Excellence in the Communication Networks Division.

Professor Leonidas Guibas is Professor of Computer Science (and by courtesy, Electrical Engineering) at Stanford, having previously worked for Xerox PARC, Stanford, MIT, and DEC/SRC. At Stanford he heads the Geometric Computation group within the Graphics Laboratory and has developed new courses in algorithms and data structures, geometric modeling, geometric algorithms, sensor networks, and biocomputation. He is also part of the AI Laboratory the Bio-X Program, and the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering. Professor Guibas is an ACM Fellow and winner of the ACM/IEEE Allen Newell award.

Keith Jack is Director of Product Marketing at Sigma Designs, a leading supplier of high-performance System-on-Chip (SoC) solutions for the IPTV, Blu-ray, and HDTV markets. Previously, he was Director of Product Marketing at Innovision, focused on solutions for digital televisions. Mr. Jack has also served as Strategic Marketing Manager at Harris Semiconductor and Brooktree Corporation. He has architected and introduced to market over 35 multimedia SoCs for the consumer markets.

Ronald Kitchen was with the Royal Air Force for fourteen years from the age of sixteen. He joined the Marconi Company in 1955 and was appointed Marconi Research Quality Manager and Radiation Protection Officer in 1971, carrying out just under 1000 radiation investigations. He retired in 1990 and set up his own consultancy. As a visiting consultant, he created a course at Marconi College, training 142 Military officers and Senior NCOs. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to GEC Marconi.

Dr. Wing-Kuen Ling has lectured at King’s College London since 2004. He is the author of the textbook Nonlinear Digital Filters: Analysis and Applications and an editor of the research monograph Control Chaos for Circuits and Systems: A Practical Approach. His research interests include symbolic dynamics, optimization theory and applications, filter banks and wavelets, and fuzzy and impulsive control theory and applications.

David P. Morgan is a Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW) consultant, with over forty years experience in this area. He has authored two books and has published over 100 technical papers. His knowledge of the SAW area has led to his being invited to lecture on the subject in the U.S., Russia, Finland, Japan, China and Korea. He is a Life Senior Member of the IEEE.

Dr. Claude Oestges is a Research Associate of the Belgian National Science Foundation (FRS) and a part-time Associate Professor at UCL. He co-authored MIMO Wireless Communications and has made more than 100 contributions to international journals and conference proceedings. He was a member of the IEEE 802.11 Standardization Working Group on Multiple antenna channel modeling. He received the IEE Marconi Premium Award in 2001 and the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society 2004 Neal Shepherd Award.

Ron Olexa has designed and developed cellular telecommunication systems in major US and European markets. He served as the COO of SCT, then moved into the emerging Wireless data industry as CTO of Advanced Radio Telecom. He then started an independent consulting company to provide RF and technical guidance to spectrum licensees and companies. More recently he implemented one of the world’s first WiMax capable networks. He has served on the Board of Directors of EdgeFocus Inc and has authored training material used for certification by the WiMax forum.

Dr. Stefan Parkvall joined Ericsson Research in 1999 where he currently serves as senior specialist in adaptive radio access, working with research on and standardization of future cellular technologies including HSPA, LTE and LTE-Advanced. His previous positions include being an assistant professor in communication theory at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, and a visiting researcher at University of California, San Diego, USA. Dr Parkvall is a senior member of IEEE and received Ericsson’s Inventor of the Year award 2005.

Charles Pursell has worked in the telecommunications and data networking industry for over 20 years. He began his career at Bell Laboratories as a systems architect for PBX and data network connectivity solutions and has worked in many positions in voice, data, and converged network design and support. He is currently a converged networking consultant for Avaya, Inc.

Joy Rahman, an award-winning senior converged engineering specialist, started his career at Lucent Technologies, Bell Lab Innovations, supporting enterprise solutions that involved convergence, VoIP, wireless, gigabit switching, ATM, and Frame Relay LAN/WAN solutions. He currently designs and provides solutions on advanced and complex converged networks for Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and security firms.

Johan Skold has been with Ericsson Research since 1989, where he has been involved in the standardization and evolution of GSM, EDGE and UMTS/HSPA/LTE. Mr. Skold was active in the FRAMES project within the European 4th Framework program, and initiated the work on EDGE as a GSM evolution within that project and later in standardisation. He was also active in taking the WCDMA concept from the FRAMES project into the standardization of UMTS/IMT-2000 in 3GPP, and in the development of HSPA and LTE as the evolution of 3G. He is a Senior member of IEEE.

Professor Mihaela van der Schaar is Associate Professor at the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department. Before this she was a senior researcher at Philips Research in the Netherlands and USA. She has published extensively on multimedia communications, networking, architectures, systems, compression and processing, and holds 30 US patents. She is an active participant in the ISO Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG) standard and chairs the ad-hoc group on MPEG-21 Scalable Video Coding. She is also a senior member of IEEE, and the Technical Committee on Multimedia Signal Processing. She has won several awards, including the Okawa Foundation Award and the IBM Faculty Award three times.

Dr. Feng Zhao is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, where he manages the Networked Embedded Computing Group. He has taught at Stanford University and Ohio State University, was a Principal Scientist at Xerox PARC and directed PARC’s sensor network research effort. He serves as the founding Editor-In-Chief of ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks, and has authored or co-authored over 100 technical papers and books. He has received a number of awards, and his work has been featured in news media such as BBC World News, Business Week, and Technology Review.

Section 1


Chapter 1.0


John T. Moring

The last two decades have been the most dynamic in the history of wireless communications [1]. Most notably, mobile voice communications has exploded from a tiny niche market to a part of our daily lives. Building on comparable advances in computers and networking technology, today’s wide area and local area wireless systems are poised to take us to the next level of mobile data services, where all the capabilities of the Internet are literally at our fingertips wherever we go.

In this chapter, we briefly review the history of wireless communications, survey today’s wireless landscape, and introduce some of the leading edge topics covered later in this volume [2].

A short history of wireless communication

Figure 1.0-1 shows a time line of the development of wireless communications. We are well into the second century of radio communications. The pioneering work of Faraday, Maxwell, Hertz, and others in the 1800s led to Marconi’s wireless telegraph at the turn of the century. The precursors to mobile radio as we know it have been available since the first transportable voice radios of the 1920s. Radio technology matured in the subsequent decades, with broadcast radio and television, and the portable manpack walkie-talkies of World War II. In the 1940s, cellular technology was conceived, with the ability to divide radio frequency service areas into cells to reduce interference and increase capacity. This is the basis for today’s wide area voice and wireless local area networking technologies. Within a few years of the first satellite launch in 1957, satellites were being sent into space to act as communication relays.

Figure 1.0-1 The graph indicates general telecommunications advances on the left and wireless-specific advances on the right.

In 1969, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allotted portions of the radio frequency spectrum for mobile telephones. In the 1970s the Post Office Code Standardization Advisory (POCSAG) numeric paging code was standardized, and AT&T rolled out the first mobile telephone services operating on a cellular system. In 1987, the FCC allowed the use of new technologies in the 800 MHz cellular spectrum, with the first digital cellular transmissions (code division multiple access [CDMA], time division multiple access [TDMA], and global system for mobile communication [GSM]) tested in the United States shortly thereafter. With the adoption of digital technologies, new features such as voice mail, fax, and short messages have been enabled.

The boom in wireless usage in the 1990s (paralleling the Internet boom) has led to near ubiquitous wireless voice service throughout the United States and in much of the world. Personal wireless data services, exemplified by such technologies as short message service (SMS), wireless application protocol (WAP), ReFlex, Bluetooth, i-Mode, and 802.11, offer a range of mobile data services that are not far behind. For every wireline technology, from serial cable to fiber optics, there is an analogous wireless technology available when it is not feasible or convenient to use a cable connection. Figure 1.0-2 depicts how rapidly newer technologies grew in the 1990s while the number of wireline telephone installations in homes remained relatively static.

Figure 1.0-2 United States Telecom User Growth. With voice line penetration in saturation, wireless and Internet users continue to grow. Wireless data usage will follow. (Internet users include the United States and Canada.)

Where we are

Today’s wireless technologies offer an immense range of capabilities to the user. System throughputs continue to expand, offering the ability to support an increasing number of applications. Wireless communication system availability is also increasing, due to investment in fixed infrastructure, as well as reduced device cost and size.

Figure 1.0-3 categorizes select wireless technologies, graphed by system throughput and user mobility. Several groupings are identified for convenience. On the left are Fixed Location systems, such as point-to-point microwave and stationary satellite systems, which generally operate at high rates (over one Mbps) on line-of-sight channels. Near the fixed systems, providing limited mobility over shorter transmission paths but still supporting Mbps data rates, are Local Area systems, such as wireless local area networks (802.11) and personal area networks (Bluetooth). Finally, Wide Area Mobile systems, such as paging and cellular, provide extended mobility but with relatively limited throughput. These categories are explored in the following section.

Figure 1.0-3 Current technologies in the wireless landscape provide a range of choices, from high-bandwidth fixed systems to wide area systems supporting low to moderate data rates.

Before entering a discussion of specific wireless technologies, it is useful to review the relevant characteristics of a generic radio system. Figure 1.0-4 illustrates a wireless system, showing a signal sent from the transmitter on the left to the receiver in the center. Other aspects of the environment are shown to highlight the challenges inherent in wireless communications. These challenges are the focus of much research aimed at improving RF communications.

Figure 1.0-4 A generic wireless system. Inherent weaknesses of the wireless medium are offset by its flexibility and support for mobility.

First, even in the best of situations, we have free space attenuation, where the signal loses strength at a rate proportional to the square of the distance traveled. This limits the signal propagation distance. The electromagnetic radio waves are further attenuated due to blockage by objects (including atmospheric particles) in their propagation paths. Both types of attenuation limit the ability of the receiver to capture and interpret the transmitted signal.

Additionally, radio signals are subject to reflection, which leads to multipath fading, another form of signal loss. A reflected signal, since it travels a longer distance between transmitter and receiver, arrives at the receiver with a time delay relative to a signal following a direct (or shorter reflected) path. Two similar signals, offset in time, may cancel each other out.

Another difficulty facing the receiver operating in the unprotected wireless environment is the possibility of other similar signals sharing the same medium and arriving at the receiver simultaneously with the desired signal, thus causing interference. Finally, the unprotected medium also allows the possibility of eavesdropping, or interception, where a third party captures the transmitted signal without permission, potentially compromising the privacy of the system’s users.

Each of the challenges illustrated in Figure 1.0-4 identifies an area where wireless communications is at a disadvantage to a comparable wireline communication system. Why then are wireless communications so prevalent? Each wireless deployment may have its own design rationale, but two fundamental reasons cover most cases. First, wireless systems provide flexibility in deployment. Whether connecting a laptop PC in a conference room or a pipeline monitor in the Arctic, the setup of a radio connection may be orders of magnitude faster than a wireline connection, due to the fact that no physical connecting media is required. Second, wireless systems can provide the option of mobility. Communicating on the move is very useful, if not critical, to many applications, and this is just not well supported through a wired medium.

Note that some of these weaknesses can cleverly be turned to the user’s advantage. For example, attenuation and blocking may be leveraged to limit signal propagation and opportunities for eavesdropping.

Having digressed far enough into the advantages and disadvantages of wireless, let us return to the discussion of how the wireless landscape is populated, starting with fixed location systems, and then addressing local area and wide area systems.

Fixed location systems

Fixed location systems by their nature can generally support high-gain stationary antennas and connections to the power grid; the resulting high signal-to-noise ratios provide the opportunity to operate at high throughput over long-range line-of-sight paths. Several classes of fixed system are described in the following, encompassing both RF and optical as well as terrestrial and space-based systems.

Point-to-point RF

Point-to-point microwave systems typically are used as a substitute for high-speed megabit (T-1, T-3) telecom circuits. They traditionally employ licensed frequencies above 2 GHz and user-owned end equipment. They use highly directional antennas that can span 10 miles and more, given line of sight. (To increase line of sight, systems are often located atop tall buildings and mountaintops.) A recent trend in this domain is toward lower-cost, unlicensed equipment, operating in the 2.4 GHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) or 5 GHz unlicensed national information infrastructure (U-NII) bands.

Point to multipoint

Local multipoint distribution system (LMDS) and multi-channel multipoint distribution service (MMDS) are carrier-grade technologies intended for wireless Internet access and general communication services. Spectrum has been allocated for these systems in several super high frequency (SHF) bands, offering tens of megabits per second of throughput. Along these lines, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 working group is developing a family of standards for wireless metropolitan area networks (MANs). The technology provides a competitor to cable modem and DSL access, with additional flexibility. The current telecom slump has slowed the deployment of these systems.

VSAT and other geosynchronous satellite systems

Very small aperture terminal (VSAT) systems are similar to fixed terrestrial multipoint systems, except that instead of a tower- or rooftop-mounted base unit, a satellite transponder is used. A limited number of geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites circle the equator at 22,236 miles altitude, maintaining a fixed position in relation to a point on the earth. These transponders can be used for high-bandwidth bidirectional signal relay, supporting applications such as data transfer, Internet access, and audio/video signal distribution. Though the ground station antenna is fixed during operation, it is easily deployable, making it well suited for disaster recovery and other temporary situations.

Again, multiple licensed bands are employed. Full satellite channels are often subdivided via multiple access techniques and made available by resellers in the range of 20 kbps to 2 Mbps. According to the Global VSAT Forum [3], there are over 500,000 VSAT terminals installed worldwide.

Free space optical

A fairly recent arrival on the scene is free space optical (FSO) communications, which shares characteristics with both point-to-point RF and fiber optic technologies. As in point-to-point systems, a focused signal carries high-throughput bitstreams between two points; as in fiber optics, a laser or light-emitting diode (LED) is used to generate the optical signal that carries the information.

Operating with no spectrum license, and with speeds in excess of 1 Gbps, FSO offers an attractive choice for some backhaul and LAN extension applications. One weakness in today’s systems is their susceptibility to optical blockage, particularly from fog.

Local area systems

Unlike the fixed systems just considered, local area systems achieve their high throughput via proximity. They generally allow some range of motion on the user’s part, providing flexible usage scenarios. The technologies considered here require no spectrum license.

Infrared, IrDA

Infrared signals are used for a range of simple control protocols, such as TV remote controls. The Infrared Data Association (IrDA) has standardized multimegabit-per-second data transfers in support of a wide range of usage profiles. Typically, these are very short-range (i.e., inches to feet of separation between units) applications requiring a fairly high degree of directionality between transmitter and receiver. According to IrDA [4], over 300 million devices support this technology.

Bluetooth personal area networks

Operating at 1 Mbps channel rate in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz ISM band, Bluetooth (named for Harald Bluetooth, an ancient Danish Viking king) is intended for low cost and high interoperability. It is variously described as a personal area network (PAN) or a cable replacement technology, and should eventually be routinely embedded in cell phones, computers, PDAs, printers, and a plethora of other products that today require a cable for communications. Over time, more applications (as defined by Bluetooth Profile specifications) will be available in such diverse areas as video conferencing and automotive support. With many big names behind it (Bluetooth Promoter companies are 3Com, Agere, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, and Toshiba) and over 900 distinct Bluetooth [5] products (as of this writing), Bluetooth has a lot of momentum. It also has detractors and competitors.

Wireless local area networks

The big news in wireless communications over the last year or two has not been the much-hyped third generation (3G) cellular, but rather wireless local area networking (WLAN) technologies. These technologies (mostly based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards and marketed under the Wi-Fi banner) operate in unlicensed spectrum, and provide wired LAN extension or replacement. The Wi-Fi family, also known as Wireless Ethernet, allows generic applications to operate seamlessly over a transparent layer 1 and 2.

Initially deployed as corporate LAN extensions, their low price, high performance (to tens of Mbps), and ease of operation have made them popular in the home office environment and to a lesser degree as a substitute for traditional point-to-point microwave systems. Additional vertical applications are starting to appear. Some vehicular toll collection systems employ 802.11, and commercial airlines have announced installation of WLANs in their aircraft for in-flight passenger use. Free access community networks are sprouting in numerous high-tech locales, potentially challenging the business model of established wireless carriers. Wi-Fi’s well-publicized security limitations are expected to be solved before they significantly slow adoption of the technology. Over 26 million Wi-Fi devices are expected to ship in 2003 [6].

Wide area systems

Wide area mobile systems generally sacrifice throughput for longer propagation paths, user mobility, decreased device size, and increased coverage. Paging and cellular communication systems are prime examples of wide area systems.


Paging was successful for years as a reliable delivery mechanism for short text strings, such as phone numbers. With simplex data delivery, strategically placed high-power transmitters and robust encoding, excellent reliability was achieved. To compete with evolving cell phone services in the 1990s, many paging systems were upgraded to provide two-way transfers and larger message sizes, making them similar in function to the terrestrial packet systems described in the following. Now the Motorola proprietary two-way paging protocol ReFlex is the most widely deployed paging technology.

Faced with the increased coverage and penetration of cellular service, paging subscribership peaked in 1999 [7]. Motorola, the traditional leader among paging manufacturers, has announced that it is transitioning away from both one- and two-way paging equipment in favor of advanced cellular products and services [8].

Mobile satellite services

The 1990s saw the design of a number of LEO and MEO (low and medium earth orbit) satellite systems. Of these, only a few were actually launched, and these have had trouble maintaining financial viability in the face of ever-increasing terrestrial cellular coverage. Two systems provide cellular-like service: Globalstar and Iridium. Others (e.g., Orbcomm) provide two-way paging-like services (though with increased latency, as its LEO satellites are not always overhead). More ambitious systems such as Teledesic await the day when the investment climate may be more propitious.

Successful service providers leverage mobile satellite technology to benefit niche markets. Inmarsat uses a GEO satellite constellation to provide connectivity to maritime and other high-value assets. Omni-Tracs provides vehicular tracking and communications via satellite to the long-haul trucking industry.

Specialized private systems

Most wide area radio communications—like cellular and paging—are provided as services offered by carriers to the public. A notable exception is military systems, which typically use specialized proprietary designs in restricted frequency bands. Another exception is specialized private systems, used for such applications as voice dispatch and remote asset monitoring. These systems operate in licensed frequency bands and generally consist of several tower sites and many fixed or mobile subscriber units operated by a corporate or government entity. They go by many different names: SMR (specialized mobile radio), MAS (multiaddress system), trunked radio, PMR (private mobile radio), and others. Without the economies of scale of their mass market counterparts, the specialized radio systems are often a generation behind comparable commercial equipment, with many still employing analog modulation, for example, long after cellular has migrated to digital.

Terrestrial packet systems

Several proprietary systems have been deployed to provide general-purpose packet data services. Mobitex, originally developed by Ericsson, and Ardis, now operated by Motient, provide shared channels operating at about 10 to 20 kbps. Wireless e-mail (similar to two-way paging) has been the dominant application for these systems.

The Ricochet system operates somewhat differently. With low power transceivers mounted on light poles located roughly every quarter mile, the system uses mostly unlicensed spectrum to offer 100-plus kbps Internet access to subscribers. This proprietary system was deployed in 15 or 20 markets before being turned off for financial reasons. At the time of this writing, it is back online in two markets.


The flagship wireless service is unquestionably cellular. From a few million North American users 10 years ago, the number of mobile subscribers exceeded the number of fixed telephone subscribers by the end of the 1990s as shown in Figure 1.0-2. Analog service offered by two carriers per market has given way to highperformance, feature-rich digital services (including SMS, caller ID, three-way calling, etc.), often with four or more carriers per market; additional base stations have been installed to the point where dropped calls and dead spots are exceptions to the rule of ubiquitous connectivity.

North American consumers still have to choose between three or four incompatible second generation digital technologies, though the evolution path points toward two technologies in the coming generation (3G). Within the last year, cellular carriers have deployed their first serious large-scale data offerings, with medium rate (∼50 kbps) packet data overlaid on their voice channels. For the first time, wide area consumer data services are available at moderate data rates and low costs. It is yet to be seen exactly how this offering will be used, or how widely it will be accepted.


We just discussed the current wireless landscape from a technological viewpoint. We can also consider wireless products in terms of the supported applications, such as voice, messaging, private data, and Internet access.


Cellular is the most obvious wireless voice technology. SMR and satellite systems support vertical voice markets, and various technologies (including Bluetooth) are used for short-range cordless telephony. Efforts are underway to support voice services over WLAN technologies.


Communication via short wireless messages has echoed the popularity of e-mail in a wired environment. Most usage of the Mobitex, Ardis (packet services), and ReFlex (paging) systems today consists of messaging traffic. Terrestrial and satellite voice systems support the SMS, which carries text messages up to about 150 characters over the cellular network. Its successors, enhanced messaging service (EMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS), now carry enhanced content such as pictures on some networks.

Private data

On an enterprise scale, VSAT and microwave technologies exemplify high-performance data transfer. On a personal scale, technologies such as Bluetooth provide a medium for private data transfer over short ranges. Virtual private network (VPN) is an example of software that allows private communications across a shared infrastructure (e.g., the Internet).

Internet access

Until recently, wireless Internet access involved a 10 kbps cellular channel and a limited web view using the text-based wireless application protocol (WAP) or similar mechanism. Today’s digital cellular and wireless LAN services now allow users full web access at reasonable speeds over a wide area. For higher rate fixed access, VSAT services, and in some areas fixed multipoint systems, are available.

Where we are going

The advances of the recent decades show no sign of slowing. Despite the current (2003) telecom slump, wireless research and development continues apace. Incremental improvements in all facets of wireless communications should continue for the foreseeable future. Additionally, there are certain ongoing research areas that could potentially provide quantum advances across the wireless landscape.

Software radio

In conventional radios, we see open system interconnect (OSI) Layer 1 (physical) implemented in (mostly analog) hardware, with filters and amplifiers, for example, designed for operation at specific frequencies consistent with the radio’s intended usage. Layer 2 (data link) may be implemented in custom digital hardware or a general-purpose digital signal processor; higher layers are usually executed by software/firmware in general-purpose microprocessors. The block diagram of a conventional radio is shown in the top section of Figure 1.0-5.

Figure 1.0-5 The ideal software radio (lower diagram) is much simpler and more flexible than the traditional radio (upper diagram), with its hardware tightly coupled to a specific signal type.

The idea behind software radio is to move as much of the radio functionality (including the physical layer) as possible into software. However, performing the high rate sampling and signal processing required for a fully software radio has not yet proven to be commercially feasible. More recently, the related concept of software-defined radio has emerged as an R&D topic. In this case, dynamically reconfigurable logic arrays execute specific computationally intensive functions, such as coding or encryption, as needed. A logic block may be configured as a decoder during reception, then reconfigured as an encoder during the next transmit cycle. The lower section of Figure 1.0-5 shows a block diagram of a software-defined radio.

For both software radio or software-defined radio, the advantages are similar:

• Flexibility—the radio no longer needs to be designed with foreknowledge of the exact characteristics of the target usage.

• Upgradability—operation with a new radio technology can be achieved simply with a new software download.

• Cost—using today’s technologies, digital logic gates are inherently less expensive than analog components.

• Power consumption—there is potentially more opportunity to optimize for lower power consumption (and therefore longer battery life) for a software/digital function than for analog.

Ultrawideband signals

Ultrawideband (UWB) has been promoted as a technology for applications ranging from high-speed communications to location determination to short-range ground-penetrating imaging. With pulse modulation and bandwidths in excess of 1 GHz, UWB potentially takes the advantages of spread spectrum one step farther. The intent is to operate UWB transmitters in an unlicensed mode overlapping licensed frequencies. After significant study, the FCC issued rules allowing limited UWB operation, but questions still remain in the minds of spectrum license holders who are concerned about interference.

Smart antennas

Smart antennas have been used for years in specialty applications, especially by the military. There are continuing efforts to develop commercially attractive solutions for applications such as cellular base stations and wireless LAN hot spots. Smart, or phased array, antennas may be considered an extreme form of antenna diversity. An antenna array is composed of a collection of individual antenna elements, each of which is capable of signal reception (or transmission). A signal arriving at the array will typically be picked up at each element, offset slightly in time. By internally adjusting the phase (time offset) of each received signal and then summing, the antenna pattern is effectively focused on the remote transmitter. Signals arriving from other directions do not benefit from the summing and sink into the noise. The same technique may be used to benefit the transmitted signal as well as the received signal. One of the challenges of the technology is to dynamically adjust the offsets to maintain focus on a remote mobile unit. Figure 1.0-6 shows a simplified model of smart antenna operation.

Figure 1.0-6 Smart antenna. In this simple example, the desired and interfering signals are captured at each antenna element. When aligning the received signals to maximize the desired signal, the offset versions of the interferer tend to cancel each other out.

Advanced networking

There are a number of advances at OSI layers 2 and above that will benefit wireless users, some examples of which are touched upon here. Over the past 15 years, deployment of the Internet protocol (IP) has advanced to where it is now a matter of course to connect from any computer to almost any other computer around the world, and to do it easily and quickly. This expectation also holds true for telephone-to-telephone connectivity. In some respects, mobile telephony is more advanced than IP networking in that a user can receive a call to his or her unique identifier (telephone number, including the home area code) while roaming to a different market with a different area code. This is not true today in data networking, in which a computer’s unique identifier (IP address) is tied to a specific location on the network (i.e., a specific router). The situation is addressed by assigning a new IP address as the user reattaches through a different router. This presents limitations to some applications, constraining their ability to maintain a connection as their supporting device moves.

A set of features collectively known as mobile IP offers a solution to this problem, providing services to the mobile data use that is comparable to those provided by the mobile telephony infrastructure.

As mentioned earlier, security is one potential weakness of wireless systems. First generation cellular networks were vulnerable to theft of services as well as eavesdropping. These oversights were corrected with authentication and encryption systems built into the second generation systems. Likewise, standards will shortly address the security weaknesses of original IEEE 802.11 wireless LANs.

Another major area of research is in the field of quality of service (QoS). Applications (e.g., voice or video) that work well over dedicated wired links often experience difficulties when faced with the variable delays, channel errors, and throughput inherent in many wireless links. Wireless QoS features will provide a more consistent platform on which to support these applications.

In addition to specific research areas exemplified by those just listed, there are several more general trends that will affect the wireless landscape over the coming years.

Increased throughput

Apart from some low-speed niche applications such as telemetry, each wireless technology is continually pushing for higher data rates. Sophisticated modulation and coding can squeeze more data onto existing channels. Additionally, there is a continuing migration to higher frequencies, where there is more bandwidth and thus the potential for higher throughput. Compare for example the newer 802.11a, which supports 54 Mbps on each of up to 12 simultaneous channels at 5 GHz, with 802.11b, which offers 11 Mbps on each of three simultaneous channels at 2.4 GHz (under U.S. regulations). Recent news items report that additional spectrum is being proposed to supplement what is already designated for unlicensed use in the 5 GHz band.

Increased access

We have grown to expect near-ubiquitous coverage from our cellular phone carriers. This has been achieved through network tuning and intensive investment in network infrastructure. Next generation technology and business consolidations should provide even more international roaming capabilities. Where there are several noninteroperable cellular technologies today, there are only two contenders for widespread international deployment in the third generation, and cellular operators are ensuring a much greater degree of compatibility between them. Additionally, the burgeoning growth of public and private Wi-Fi hot spots offers mobile data users another connectivity option. Bluetooth users carry their own PAN around with them wherever they go. And it is expected that satellite services will provide increasing connectivity options for those hard-to-reach remote locales.


Not only is network coverage increasing, but the number of wireless devices is growing at a high rate. The reduced size and price of radios makes it feasible to add wireless capability to almost any device. Advances in supporting technologies, as well as wireless technologies, make radios viable where they never have been before.

• Battery power density continues to improve, reducing the size and increasing the utility of portable devices. Viable alternate power sources are on the horizon.

• User-interface advances (e.g., voice recognition, new display technologies) add convenience and potentially open the door for new applications.

• Integrated circuits continue to double their capabilities every year or two, allowing designers to pack more functions into ever-smaller packages. Newer semiconductor technologies and manufacturing processes provide increased efficiency.

• Processing techniques, such as software-defined radio, scripting and presentation languages (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition [J2ME], binary runtime environment for wireless [BREW], extensible markup language [XML]), and video compression algorithms, also have the end result of providing more capability—and more configurable capabilities—to our mobile devices.

We are now seeing not only wireless phones and laptop computers, but also radio-connected PDAs, cameras, watches, and cars. Any device that has an embedded microprocessor is a candidate for wireless connectivity. Figure 1.0-7 illustrates the growth in mobile network access devices.

Figure 1.0-7 Growth of mobile network access devices [9]. Other devices Include PDAs, handheld and laptop PCs, etc.

More applications

The increased availability of network coverage and wireless devices, and advances in associated electronics technologies, makes new applications viable. Mobile voice and mobile text messaging have been wildly popular. The marriage of cameras and wireless opens the door for some form of photo messaging. Cellular carriers (at the behest of the FCC, for safety reasons) are deploying location determination capabilities, some using the global positioning system (GPS). Once these capabilities are in place, a range of new applications beyond public safety will be available. Many see electronic gaming as a huge growth area, just now in its infancy.


The rich history of progress in wireless and RF communication has given us an array of technologies suited to a wide range of applications. We are in a time of explosive growth in wireless technology, as evidenced by the advances described throughout this book. Coupled with the Internet content that is now available, the door is open for new applications ranging from telemetry to video. The 1990s saw a proliferation of wireless voice services; now, the wireless data boom will be even more dynamic because the types of devices and content are much more varied.


1. Coincidently, this period corresponds to the time this author has been employed as a communication engineer. Unfortunately, I can take only partial credit for the amazing advances of this era!

2. Many thanks to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and Melange Solutions in San Diego, for whom some of this material was originally developed.




6. Dataquest, quoted by Krazit, Tom in Microsoft Joins Home Wi-Fi Announcements, (,aid,10517,00.asp), September 19, 2002.

7. FCC, Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions with Respect to Commercial Mobile Services: Sixth Report, July 17, 2001.

8. Motorola, Motorola Personal Communications Sector (PCS) Refocuses Messaging Division (press release), December 3, 2001.

9. Adapted from the Shosteck Group white paper, Lessons from Metricom and MobileStar: Success Factors for the Portable Internet Access Market (January 2002).

Section 2


Chapter 2.1

Basic features of radio communication systems

Ed da Silva

2.1.1 Introduction

This chapter describes communication systems which use radio waves and signals. Radio signals are useful for two main reasons. They provide a relatively cheap way of communicating over vast distances and they are extremely useful for mobile communications where the use of cables is impractical.

Radio signals are generally considered to be electromagnetic signals which are broadcast or radiated through space. They vary in frequency from several kilohertz¹ to well over 100 GHz (10¹¹ Hz). They include some well known public broadcasting bands: long-wave (155–280 kHz), medium-wave (522–1622 kHz), short-wave (3–30 MHz), very high frequency (VHF) FM band (88–108 MHz), ultrahigh frequency (UHF) television band (470–890 MHz) and the satellite television band (11.6 to 12.4 GHz). The frequencies² quoted above are approximate figures and are only provided to give an indication of some of the frequency bands used in Radio and TV broadcasting. Aims

The aims of this chapter are to introduce you to some basic radio communications principles and methods. These include modulation (impressing signal information on to radio carrier waves), propagation (transmission of radio cartier waves) and demodulation (detection of radio carrier waves) to recover the original signal information.

The method we use here is to start with an overview of a communication system. The system is then divided to show its sub-systems and the sub-systems are then expanded to show individual circuits and items. Objectives

The general objectives of this chapter are:

• to help you understand why certain methods and techniques are used for radio frequency (r.f.) and high frequency communication circuits;

• to appreciate the need for modulation;

• to understand the basic principles of modulation and demodulation;

• to understand the basic principles of signal propagation using antennas;

• to introduce radio receivers;

• to introduce you to the requirements of selectivity and bandwidth in radio communication circuits.

2.1.2 Radio communication systems Stages in communication

Let’s commence with a simple communications example and analyse the important stages necessary for communication. This is shown diagramatically in Figure 2.1-1. We start by writing a letter-message, putting it in an envelope, and sending it through a post-carrier (postal carrier system) to our destination. At the other end, our recipient receives the letter from the post office, opens the envelope and reads our message. Why do we carry out these actions?

Fig. 2.1-1 Analogy between the postal system and a radio system.

We write a letter because it contains the information we want to send to our recipient. In radio communications, we do the same thing; we use a message signal, which is an electrical signal derived from analog sound or digitally encoded sound and/or video/data signals, as the information we want to convey. The process of putting this information into an ‘envelope’ for transmission through the carrier is called modulation and circuits designed for this purpose are known as modulation circuits or modulators.

We use the post office as the carrier for our letters because the post office has the ability to transmit messages over long distances. In radio communications, we use a r.f. carrier because a radio carrier has the ability to carry messages over long distances. An r.f. carrier with an enveloped message impressed on it is often called an enveloped carrier wave or a modulated carrier wave.

When the post office delivers a letter to a destination, the envelope must be opened to enable the message to be read. In radio communications when the enveloped carrier wave arrives at its destination, the enveloped carrier must be ‘opened’ or demodulated to recover the original message from the carrier. Circuits which perform this function are known as demodulation circuits or demodulators.

The post office uses a system of postal codes and addresses to ensure that a letter is selected and delivered to the correct address. In radio communications, selective or tuned circuits are used to select the correct messages for a particular receiver. Amplifiers are also used to ensure that the signals sent and received have sufficient amplitudes to operate the message reading devices such as a loudspeaker and/or a video screen.

In addition to the main functions mentioned above, we need a post box to send our letter. The electrical equivalent of this is the transmitting antenna. We require a letter box at home to receive letters. The electrical equivalent of this is the receiving antenna. Summary of radio communications systems

A pictorial summary of the above actions is shown in Figure 2.1-1. There are three main functions in a radio communications system. These are: modulation, transmission and demodulation. There are also supplementary functions in a radio communications system. These include transmitting antennas,³ receiving antennas, selective circuits, and amplifiers. We will now describe these methods in the same order but with more detail.

2.1.3 Modulation and demodulation

Before discussing modulation and demodulation, it is necessary to clarify two points: the modulation information and the modulation method.

In the case of a letter in the postal system, we are free to write our messages (modulation information) in any language, such as English, German, French, pictures, data, etc. However, our recipient must be able to read the language we use. For example it is useless to write our message in Japanese if our recipient can only read German. Hence the modulation information system we use at the transmitter must be compatible with the demodulation information system at the receiver.

Secondly, the method of putting information (modulation method) on the letter is important. For example, we can type, use a pencil, ultraviolet ink, etc. However, the reader must be able to decipher (demodulate) the information provided. For example, if we use ultraviolet ink, the reader must also use ultraviolet light to decipher (demodulate) the message. Hence the modulation and demodulation methods must also be compatible.

In the discussions that follow we are only discussing modulation and demodulation methods; not the modulation information. We also tend to use sinusoidal waves for our explanation. This is because a great mathematician, Joseph Fourier,⁴ has shown that periodic waveforms of any shape consist of one or more d.c. levels, sine waves and cosine waves. This is similar to the case in the English language, where we have thousands of words but, when analysed, all come from the 26 letters of the alphabet. Hence, the sinusoidal wave is a useful tool for understanding modulation methods.

We now return to our simple radio carrier wave which is the sinusoidal wave⁵ shown in Figure 2.1-2.

Fig. 2.1-2 A sinusoidal radio carrier wave.

A sinusoidal wave can be described by the expression



vc = instantaneous carrier amplitude (volts)

Vc = carrier amplitude (peak volts)

ωc =

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