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Wireless over Cable for

Femtocell Systems
Jonathan Gambini and Umberto Spagnolini, Politecnico di Milano

ABSTRACT the reduced deployment cost for the service pro-

viders, and the increased indoor coverage for
Interference control is crucial to reach the spectrum allocations beyond 2GHz [1]. The
expected spectral efficiencies in femtocell sys- pico/femtocell paradigm unavoidably leads to
tems. Centralized and joint baseband (BB) pro- several (still) open issues such as synchronization
cessing of all femtocell signals can reduce (namely when using OFDM/A as air protocol),
inter-cell/intra-cell interference at the expense of security, interference, and mobility management.
fast signaling and strict synchronization to coor- All these could be more efficiently handled by a
dinate the multiple femtocell links. In this arti- centralized approach rather than by independent
cle, we revisit the conventional femtocell and/or loosely-cooperative HeNBs. Even if an
architecture by proposing the multi-cell base- access control mechanism plays a relevant role
band processing for interference mitigation in interference reduction, many issues remain
based on a distributed antennas system. The open [2].
proposed configuration resorts to the wireless Focusing on the physical layer, operators
over cable (WoC) paradigm and is based on the experience the dichotomy between mitigating
concept of replacing the in-house base station RF interference and allocating spectrum to fem-
(Femtocell Access Point) with a home-device tocell and macrocell users. The scarcity of radio
that simply transfers the analog radio frequency resources, together with flexibility in the deploy-
(RF) signals from the air-link to the existing ment, would preferably lead to reuse the same
cable connections. These home-devices act as spectrum with the unpleasant effect of raising
bidirectional amplify-and-forward (AF) relays of the RF interference, both co-tier (among neigh-
air signals toward cable (and vice-versa) by oper- boring femtocells) and cross-tier (femtocell-to-
ating a frequency conversion of the wireless macrocell and macrocell-to-femtocell). Even if
spectrum to accommodate the cable specifica- centralized frequency/power planning strategies
tions and coexistence with other services. Split- would be highly beneficial for interference con-
ting RF processing (at home) from baseband trol, the heavy signalling and the unpredictable
processing (centralized at the nearest street cabi- activation/deactivation of HeNBs make this
net or central office collecting multiple cables) approach practically unfeasible.
guarantees that multi-cell processing exploits the In counter-trend with the conventional
same advantages as MIMO systems. The analysis approach of deploying non-cooperative HeNBs,
of WoC for twisted pair telephone lines shows here it is proposed that all home-devices are
the advantages of the FemtoWoC architecture replaced with antenna elements that are con-
despite the coexistence with other interfering nected via cable links to the same remotely
xDSL services over the cable, or the propagation deployed baseband processing unit that acts as
over the widely deployed copper wirelines. the centralized multicell BS (McBS). This dis-
tributed antennas system (DAS) architecture,
INTRODUCTION referred to as FemtoWoC architecture (Fig. 1b),
resorts to the wireless over cable (WoC)
Spectrum scarcity below 1–2GHz and the paradigm. The radio frequency wireless signals
increased users’ density/traffic are two leading are relayed over the cable infrastructure (tele-
aspects that motivate the efforts in cell-size phone wire, coax, power lines or even optical
reduction experienced in recent years. Cell fiber) through a bidirectional AF device (name-
reduction down to the range 10–50m, possibly ly, the A/A converter) that translates the band-
indoor, is the paradigm of femtocells, based on width of wireless signals to comply with the
low-power base stations (BSs) as home equip- specifications of the wired links (and vice-versa).
ment, also referred to as Home eNodeBs Notice that each A/A device can translate differ-
(HeNBs) in LTE. Conventional HeNBs are con- ent portions of the wireless spectrum to the
nected to the operator’s core network through a lower frequency (f low ) that matches the cable
broadband connection such as xDSL (Fig. 1a) bandwidth, and therefore the A/A converter can
for the purpose of providing wireless voice and be remotely configured to accommodate differ-
broadband services to customers in home/office ent radio protocols from radio access (LTE
environments. The key benefits of femtocells are and/or WiMAX) to any short-range indoor com-

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Home eNode B (HeNB) The lesson learned

PHY & from the multicell
RF/IF processing paradigm
Conventional femtocell

is that a more proac-

tive treatment of

xDSL links interference —

Air link
Core through some form
of interference-
aware multi-cell
(a) (street cabinet or coordination at the
central office) receiving/transmitting
converter side — is likely to be
FemtoWoC architecture

Multi-cell BS (McBS)
Analog links the most promising

MIMO processor
way to maximize the


RF/LF network
network performance.

fRF=2.4, 3.5, ...GHz flow=5-10MHz


Figure 1. Comparison of a) conventional femtocell system with HeNBs over xDSL connections; b) Fem-
toWoC architecture over the same telephone lines. Antenna and analog (A/A) converter replaces the con-
ventional HeNB, while multiple femtocell signals are jointly processed at the Multi-cell BS (McBS).

munication (e.g. WiFi and domotic systems, or FEMTOWOC ARCHITECTURE:

even indoor broadcasting over unlicensed spec- CONCEPT AND OVERVIEW
Baseband processing and radio resource man- Coexistence of macro/femtocell users as well as
agement are tightly coordinated at the McBS for radio access management largely benefit from
several femtocells, thus mimicking the same a centralized interference management with
advantages as DAS [3] in terms of centralized respect to local and self-configuring algorithms
resource management (for the downlink) and embedded in HeNBs [2]. Conventional femto-
mitigation of radio frequency interference among cells locally select their respective access
neighbouring femtocells (for the uplink). 3G parameters such as power and frequency allo-
wireless protocols such as WiMAX and LTE rely cation with minimal coordination. On the other
onto OFDM/OFDMA as modulation and access hand, the lesson learned from the multicell
schemes to adapt the radio resources on a carri- processing paradigm is that a more proactive
er-by-carrier basis and to adapt to varying inter- treatment of interference, accomplished
ference/channel conditions. In this case, the through some form of interference-aware
radio resource management (RRM) of the McBS multi-cell coordination at the receiving/trans-
can be designed by optimizing frequency alloca- mitting side, is likely to be the most promising
tion and access policy to account for the cascade way to maximize the network performance [3].
of wireless and cable channels. In this context, different antennas overhear
The goal here is to gain insights into the users from neighbouring cells to act as a virtual
FemtoWoC architecture [4] as a solution for multiple-antennas array where joint processing
femtocell systems that can be integrated with the of multiple interfering signals provides the
recent decomposed radio access architectures for same benefits as multi-user MIMO systems.
coordinated multipoint (CoMP) transmission/ This motivated the FemtoWoC architecture
reception (e.g. [4]). Analysis of the FemtoWoC that aims at exploiting centralized mitigation of
scenarios is fairly complex as it can mix different the interference arising over the air interface
cabling and radio access technologies. Since air- by employing bidirectional AF relaying that
link impairments are widely investigated, system- enables the transparent transferring of the
level performances in this article focus on the interferential contribution accumulated over
Wireless over Copper paradigm (namely, over the radio access links toward the remote McBS
traditional telephone lines) to highlight the for baseband processing. The key elements
peculiar issues of the coexistence with existing enabling the FemtoWoC paradigm are dis-
xDSL services within the same cable bundle. cussed below.

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The CU lets the Air-link spectrum

McBS remotely con-

Air MIMO channel

figure each A/A to ...

Compund (virtual) MIMO channel

flow fRF
the communication-
specific PHY parame-
ters such as


spectrum allocation A/A

Cable MIMO channel

and shaping of the E/O converter
spectral gain func-
tion. The signaling SSC

between McBS and

each CU is based on
a slow-rate dedicat- Cable-link spectrum PHY1 PHY2 ... PHYN
ed channel over the
cable-link. Multi-cell BS
flow fRF MIMO processing



Figure 2. FemtoWoC architecture with mixed copper/fiber connections. Centralized baseband processing at
the McBS exploits the compound MIMO channel as cascade of air-MIMO and cable-MIMO links.

Frequency Conversion Circuits (FCCs) —
The A/A adapter (sketched in Fig. 2) is a two- Mixing circuits translate the incoming RF signal
way amplify-and-forward device capable of relay- to a lower spectral allocation for the uplink, and
ing the bidirectional analog flow to interface the vice-versa for the downlink. The reference used
antenna with the available cable infrastructure. for frequency conversion is a synchronous local
Each A/A includes some software-defined recon- pilot signal obtained from a frequency synthesiz-
figurability based on control signals from the er locked to the pilots from the McBS.
McBS. The main functional blocks are provided
in the following. Control Unit (CU) — The CU lets the McBS
remotely configure each A/A to the communica-
Combiner Circuits (CCs) — The combining cir- tion-specific PHY parameters such as spectrum
cuit allows the bidirectional converter to intercept allocation and shaping of the spectral gain func-
and transmit signals from/to a given interface (air tion. The signaling between McBS and each CU
or cable) according to the duplexing method is based on a slow-rate dedicated channel over
(TDD or FDD). In the TDD mode, this circuit is the cable-link.
controlled by a common reference signal generat-
ed by the embedded Control Unit to comply with REMOTE MULTI-CELL BASE STATION (MCBS)
the application-specific frame structure. The McBS is in charge of configuring the A/A
devices, and performing baseband processing of
Spectrum Shaping Circuits (SSCs) — The the uplink/downlink signals of multiple femto-
SSC shapes the frequency response to: cells. Furthermore, the McBS sets time/frequen-
• Compensate for the transmission loss affect- cy synchronization of all the A/A converters
ing the signal propagation over the air or configured to act as a DAS so that the multicell
cable link. processing at the McBS is maximally efficient in
• Reshape the signal to its original (transmit- terms of interference mitigation (or spatial-
ted) waveform to ease the decoding capa- diversity exploitation). Functional blocks are
bility of the received data at destination. described in the following:
• Apply a gain so as to guarantee that the
power spectrum density at the output inter- Physical Layer Modules (PHYs) — The McBS
face complies with the link-specific regula- architecture is based on an array of baseband
tory spectral mask. processors (denoted as PHY in Fig. 2), each per-
If required, frame structure can be delayed or forming the same processing functionalities as
rearranged within the SCC for several purposes the conventional HeNB (in terms of modula-
such as to align frames, or modify duplexing tion/demodulation, and coding/decoding).
mode (FDD from/to TDD). Remarkable is that all these processing units are

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mutually interconnected to exchange soft-mes- the McBS so that the same multicell processing
sages in order to enable the most appropriate paradigm can be applied for centralized cross-tier The FemtoWoC
interference mitigation policy mandated by the interference mitigation in the uplink, and central-
MIMO processor. ized resource management in the downlink. architecture emulates
Even if the benefits of DAS as communication a multi-user MIMO
MIMO Processor — The multi-user links over paradigm are widely accepted, business issues are system that
the wireless (between the femtocell users and the main driving force that makes the FemtoWoC
the A/A converters) and the cable (between the architecture an alternative and profitable technol- efficiently exploits
A/A converters and the McBS) interface give ogy change. In FemtoWoC, the xDSL modems the benefits of
rise to air and cable MIMO channels, respective- are no more necessary as wireless signals are
ly. The cascade of these two channels creates a directly conveyed over cable (after frequency con- centralized
compound (virtual) MIMO channel (as illustrat- version), and this saves costs and energy. The cost interference
ed in Fig. 2), characterized by being fast (over of baseband and RF processing that is embedded mitigation in the
air-link) and slowly (over cable-link) varying. in each conventional HeNB is split here without
Processing at the McBS needs to handle the cas- any direct advantages. However, the A/A device uplink, and joint
cade of these two channels and it could exploit that performs the RF processing is not tailored to spatial coding and
the different time-varying rates of each any specific wireless standard but rather to the
(cable/air) MIMO link. Crucial is the multi-user cable connection to/from the house. This makes RRM in the
MIMO processor that enables the exchange of the A/A converter be less sensitive to functional downlink.
information among different PHY modules for obsolescence cycles with respect to protocol-spe-
interference mitigation, space-time coding, and cific HeNBs. Flexibility of several A/A converters
channel estimation. controlled by the same remote McBS opens new
scenarios where each coverage area is naturally
MAC and RRM Unit — This block is in charge heterogeneous and multistandard. In other words,
of optimizing the resource partitioning and users the same A/A can handle multiple air-interfaces
scheduling to cope jointly with the different (WiMAX, LTE/LTE-A, WiFi, or even gateways
interference patterns that characterize air and/or for Wireless Sensor Networks) by simply changing
cable links. Focusing on OFDMA protocols such the operating radio bandwidth according to the
as WiMAX and LTE/LTE-A, data rate adapta- RRM policies of the McBS. For instance, every
tion over a block of subcarriers should account pico/femtocell could become a McBS-controlled
for the chain of air and cable channels to make WiFi-hotspot and thus the unlicensed spectrum
the wireless access protocol to be fully transpar- can be used to balance the traffic load of licensed
ent for the mobile terminals. Since each A/A bands and/or to reduce cross-tier interference.
converter can dynamically translate different Operators can thus provide the users with the full
portions of the spectrum, the McBS can opti- nomadicity toward the ambitious paradigm of
mize the degree of spectral overlapping over the “being always-connected over different air inter-
air and cable independently, thus providing the faces.”
RRM with new degrees of freedom to be exploit-
ed in addition to dynamic spectrum assignment CHALLENGES
and adaptive power allocation (to be executed at A number of challenges related to the Fem-
both the transmitters and the A/A converters). toWoC paradigm, and more generally to DAS
architectures, deserve particular attention. An
overview is given in the following.
Reduced Complexity Algorithms — The
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES FemtoWoC architecture represents a multi-user
The aim of this section is to discuss benefits and DAS where optimal precoding over the broad-
challenges in FemtoWoC architectures com- cast (downlink) MIMO channel as well as opti-
pared to conventional femtocell systems. mal joint decoding over the uplink involves
non-linear and computationally intensive opti-
BENEFITS mizations that scale poorly with the network
McBS controls the remote A/A converters to guar- size. As the distributed configuration might
antee that all the radio terminals within the femto- involve a very large number of remote antennas,
cells are time and frequency synchronized with suboptimal algorithms can be investigated to
compatible frame structure. The FemtoWoC archi- reduce the computational complexity of current
tecture emulates a multi-user MIMO system that pre-coding and decoding schemes, e.g. by intro-
efficiently exploits the benefits of centralized inter- ducing processing partitioning based on the
ference mitigation in the uplink, and joint spatial degree of cross-talk among the users.
coding and RRM in the downlink. Throughput (or
spectral efficiency) is increased as a consequence Joint Radio and Cable Resource Manage-
of interference reduction over air and cable inter- ment — Compound MIMO of FemtoWoC
faces. In addition, MIMO processing at the McBS architecture has some peculiarities that are not
handles the cascade of the fast-varying air links common to multi-user MIMO systems. Since RF
and the static cable channels by exploiting their dif- signals at the radio access interface are simply
ferent time-varying rates. This provides a remark- translated in frequency to be allocated onto the
able benefit with respect to the conventional spectrum supported by the available backhauling
femtocell architecture (Fig. 1a) where all the system, all the impairments that can be experi-
HeNBs serving different femtocells are treated as enced within the latter infrastructure superim-
uncoordinated entities. Any fast connection, if pose to those of wireless signals. In this case,
available, could coordinate the macrocell BSs with algorithms for spectrum allocation accounting

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for the chain of the available propagation links scriber’s space, and these can run from a CO or
In order to fully need to be defined. Pre-coding techniques can from an ONU to the customer premises.
be used by coordinating multiple sets of trans- Heterogeneous composition of access infras-
exploit the benefits mitting antennas to accomplish a convenient tructures (as highlighted in Fig. 3) enables both
of multicell solution to the trade-off between mitigating Wireless over Fiber and Wireless over Copper
processing, time and inter-user interference and maximizing the net- paradigms for transportation of the radio signal
work throughput. Compared to conventional toward the McBS. In the following, peculiarities
frequency synchro- MIMO processing for co-located antennas, the of both are discussed.
nization of all the FemtoWoC architecture employs a number of
remote antenna elements that might dynamically WIRELESS OVER FIBER
network elements is change according to the propagation conditions Wireless over Fiber has the advantage of high
mandatory. The and the scheduling policy of the McBS. throughput and multiple services such as triple
McBS should play [6]. In fiber to the antenna (FTTA) configu-
Coexistence Issues with xDSL Services over rations, the home device is conceptually the
compensate for any the Cable — Twisted pair cables connecting same A/A converter equipped with an
temporal shift multiple A/A devices are typically in bundle with Electro/Optical (E/O) circuit to fit the fiber con-
other pre-existing broadband services, and this nection (Fig. 2), or alternatively using Common
among all the originates an additional source of interference Public Radio Interface (CPRI) over optical-links
end-to-end links that that is not present in conventional radio access as recently proposed by the industry [7]. In the
need to be systems. The spectral occupancy of FemtoWoC FTTA configuration, no crosstalk interference is
signals over the cable can be designed to comply generated among neighboring optical fibers.
coordinated. with VDSL masks to minimize the coexistence Although the PON provides higher through-
issues with xDSL services (this is one limiting put rates than traditional copper-based access
factor as investigated later). networks, there exists the need for further
increasing the bandwidth with dense wavelength-
Channel Estimation — Algorithms and pilot- division multiplexing (WDM), where multiple
placements for channel estimation deserve par- wavelengths are employed to independently sup-
ticular attention as imperfect channel knowledge port upstream and downstream data. In WDM-
at the McBS reduces all the benefits arising from PON, the optical crosstalk produced by the fiber
the multicell processing. The air MIMO and the non-linearities severely hinders the capacity of
cable MIMO links that compose the compound optical fiber channels as interference power
virtual MIMO channel (Fig. 2) have different increases faster than the signal power. In this
peculiarities and dynamics than can be exploited case, the same MIMO processing concept used
by developing ad-hoc time-varying channel esti- to exploit modal dispersion in multi-mode fibers
mation methods. can be employed to reduce the crosstalk effects
arising from the multiple optical streams [8].
Synchronization — In order to fully exploit the Once again, the cascade of the wireless and fiber
benefits of multicell processing, time and fre- links can be handled as a whole MIMO cou-
quency synchronization of all the network ele- pling, and the corresponding MIMO processing
ments is mandatory. The McBS should has to be defined accordingly.
compensate for any temporal shift among all the
end-to-end links that need to be coordinated. WIRELESS OVER COPPER
Moreover, all the A/A converters need to be fre- Coax, twisted pair telephone (or CAT5) lines and
quency-locked through the distribution of dedi- power-lines provide copper-based home access in
cated reference pilot signals from the McBS. different settings. Even if losses in copper cables
increase with frequency, their use is complemen-
tary to fiber in many cases [9]. In the FemtoWoC
DEPLOYMENT OF THE architecture, the bandwidth limitations of coax
are negligible and could be an alternative solu-
FEMTOWOC ARCHITECTURE tion to wireless over fiber. However, we believe
The FemtoWoC architecture is envisioned to that the copper-based phone lines as a last mile
exploit the available last-mile broadband access connection are spread enough to be the enabling
networks connecting the customer premises element for the FemtoWoC paradigm.
equipment to the infrastructure of the broad- Wireless over twisted pair copper lines has to
band service provider. Typically, different config- contend with the same impairments as xDSL,
urations arise according to the degree of such as heavy high-frequency attenuation, cable-
integration of optical fibers used as the transmis- crosstalk, and impulsive noise. Crosstalk is the
sion medium with respect to copper links. most critical penalty as it has serious effects on
In the most desirable situation, access net- the coexistence of services deployed in the twisted
works rely on the existing passive optical networks pairs of the same cable bundle. Analysis of the
(PONs). A PON is a point-to-multipoint optical compatibility of FemtoWoC signals with the exist-
network, where an optical line terminal (OLT) at ing xDSL services is the focus of the next section.
the Central Office (CO) is connected to many
optical network units (ONUs) at remote nodes.
Connection between ONU and CO follows differ- ANALYSIS OF FEMTOWOC OVER
ent configurations, referred to as fiber-to-the-x
(FTTx), according to where the ONU is installed
(e.g. at cabinets, or even at the basement of large Propagation of wideband signals over twisted
apartment buildings). Twisted pair copper lines pair copper lines is severely hampered by attenu-
fill the gap between optical fibers and the sub- ation and crosstalk, namely in the high frequency

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The FemtoWoC
premises architecture is

envisioned to exploit
the available last-mile
broadband access
networks connecting
Feeder cable the customer
Local exchange
(200-2000 pairs) premises equipment
FTTEx Multicell E/O to the infrastructure
ONU BS Distribution cable
(25-50 pairs) of the broadband
Central office Other service provider.


Access ONU


OLT: Optical line termination ONU
ONU: Optical network unit
Twisted pair copper lines (0-1 miles) Optical fiber

Figure 3. Integration of the FemtoWoC paradigm into the broadband access network infrastructure.

of the spectrum. Crosstalk over the cable is clas- so that no self-NEXT occurs over the cable,
sified as near-end crosstalk (NEXT) when caused while communication is still impaired by self-
by signals propagating in opposite directions, and FEXT and alien FEXT/NEXT (i.e. from coexist-
far-end crosstalk (FEXT) if caused by signals ing xDSL services). Since it is of interest to
propagating in the same direction. NEXT is compare downlink (DL) and uplink (UL) under
much larger than FEXT as interfering transmit- different settings, performances are in terms of
ters are placed close to the receiver. Signal trans- throughput over the 10MHz bandwidth in Fig. 4
mitted/received from/by each A/A converter over for the compound of air and twisted-pair links.
the cable is affected by the self-crosstalk (self-
NEXT and self-FEXT) from FemtoWoC services FEMTOWOC AND
connected to the same McBS, and by the alien XDSL COEXISTENCE ANALYSIS
crosstalk from other services deployed over other
twisted pairs in the same cable bundle such as System level performance aims at evaluating the
xDSL or E1/T1. Even if in principle self-NEXT limitations due to the cable link in terms of alien
can be avoided by employing TDD or FDD, self- NEXT/FEXT interference. The reference sce-
FEXT cannot be avoided, and it might be a per- nario is in Fig. 5a with one femtocell having one
formance-constraining factor, especially for active user employing IEEE802.16e wireless sig-
heavily asymmetric cable topologies. nal [10]. Transmission power is 20dBm, radio
Our purpose here is to illustrate the benefits channel is frequency selective Rayleigh faded
of FemtoWoC architecture over telephone lines with path loss a = 78dB (corresponding to
and the degree of coexistence with xDSL ser- approximately 10m of distance indoor at 2GHz),
vices, subject to spectral mask constraints on radio noise floor is –162dBm/Hz. DL and UL
both air and cable interfaces. As a choice of the communication over d-long cable is impaired by
radio access protocol we consider here the insertion loss [12] and noise according to three
OFDMA IEEE802.16e, even if the conclusions typical scenarios:
related to FemtoWoC are almost independent of • Scenario A: thermal noise with –140dBm/Hz
the specific standard and for LTE would be simi- power spectral density.
lar. Recall that the degrees of freedom of RRM • Scenario B: same as scenario A with addi-
at the McBS cope with xDSL interference by tional coexisting services over the same
adaptively assigning spectrum allocation and bundle: 10 ISDN, 10 ADSL, 4 HDSL, 2 T1
spectral efficiency. Therefore, here we adopt services [13].
carrier-by-carrier Adaptive Modulation and Cod- • Scenario C: same as scenario B with 20
ing (AMC) with thresholds chosen according to VDSL disturbers (an FDD Band Plan 998
[10]. has been used [11]).
Following the same roadmap as VDSL [11] in Figure 5b shows the average throughput of
minimizing the impact of new technologies onto the femtocell user versus cable distance d for
the existing xDSL services, the spectral mask of both UL and DL for the different cable-noise
FemtoWoC signal is similar to VDSL, with scenarios (throughput loss due to guard and
power spectral density equal to –60dBm/Hz over pilot carriers is neglected, for 64QAM and code-
the entire bandwidth starting at fWoC=100kHz rate 3/4 the reference air-link throughput is
(Fig. 4). Time division duplex (TDD) is assumed, 44.8Mb/s). Even in this simple case with one

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user per femtocell, UL and DL behavior is asym- The benefits of different joint baseband pro-
metric because of the different interference expe- cessing at the McBS are shown in Fig. 6b and
rienced over the cable-link. Scenario A (no xDSL Fig. 6c for multi-femtocell scenario of Fig. 6a
interference) is used as reference to highlight the with M = 2,4,6 interferers (all-to-all interference
noise accumulation of UL compared to DL. model) over both air and twisted-pair links. The
Without any coexistence with VDSL (Scenario multi-user interference over the air link is atten-
B) the throughput of FemtoWoC is larger than uated by 10dB compared to the direct one (a =
26Mb/s up to cable-length d = 1000m, while 78dB), while interference over the cable (self-
cable attenuation over high-frequency spectrum FEXT) is modeled by the cable far-end crosstalk
dominates for d > 1000m. When VDSL services transfer function [14]. Per-user throughput in
are superimposed over the same cable binder Fig. 6b and Fig. 6c accounts for two different
(Scenario C), the FemtoWoC throughput is fur- processing strategies at the McBS. In the cable-
ther reduced and still asymmetric for UL and MIMO processing, cross-talk cancellation at
DL. The NEXT interference from VDSL over McBS reduces only self-FEXT arising from
the high portion of the spectrum severely limits cable coupling as for vectorized VDSL, thus
the UL throughput below 5Mb/s for d > 1000m. leaving that air-interference impairs the overall
performance. In the compound (air+cable)
MIMO processing, both cable and air interfer-
PSD [dBm/Hz] ence is jointly mitigated. The maximum achiev-
POTS, HDSL, able throughput over the air-link only (i.e.
ISDN ADSL SDSL ADSL ADSL++ without accounting for any impairment in cable
DS VDSL propagation) is shown as a reference. A slight
-40 performance reduction for increasing M is due
FemtoWoC spectral mask to the linear compound MIMO processing. In
moderately cable-interfered scenarios (Fig. 6b),
compound MIMO processing guarantees nearly
the same reference air throughput of 44 Mb/s up
-80 F [MHz] to a cable length d = 300–400m.

0 0.138 0.2 1.1 2.2 10.1 12 FEMTOWOC VS

fWoC FemtoWoC bandwidth ~ 10 MHz
Conventional femtocell implementation on twist-
Figure 4. Spectral map of xDSL services over telephone lines and co-existence ed pair lines relies on the spectral efficiency of
with FemtoWoC signal. the xDSL protocol used for backhauling as well
as cross-talk cancellation policies. The nominal
uplink/downlink throughput can be as high as
26Mb/s for the case of symmetric VDSL stan-
d Multi-cell BS dard over short range (below 300m), with a total
10m spectral efficiency (UL+DL) of 4.34bit/s/Hz

MIMO proc


U1 over approximately 12MHz bandwidth. While

A/A the deployment of VDSL/VDSL2 as evolution-
ary xDSL technology is still at its early stage,
Twisted pair other xDSL protocols have a much lower rate,
telephone mostly non-symmetric between UL and DL, and
lines DSLs network
xDSL far below the net 21Mb/s (UL) and 28Mb/s (DL)
expected by IEEE 802.16e over 10MHz band-
width in a 5ms frame (with 64 QAM and code-
rate 3/4). To reach high throughput over the
FemtoWoC average throughput [Mbit/s]

air-link (above 10Mb/s), conventional femtocell
40 architecture has to be necessarily paired with
DL VDSL or VDSL2 as backhauling technology.
DL Over very short distance (say below 200–300m),
(b) 30 DL spectral efficiency of IEEE 802.16e FemtoWoC
C UL architecture is limited to 4bit/s/Hz by modulation
and coding of the air-interface, and thus conven-
tional femtocell architecture based on VDSL is
spectrally more efficient thanks to the high bit-
loading schemes of VDSL [11]. However, for
medium range distance (and above), the spectral
10 efficiency of both architectures coincides (as
VDSL symmetric throughput drops to
UL 13+13Mb/s up to 1km). Needless to say, conven-
0 tional femtocell paired with VDSL cannot pro-
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 vide the same benefits as FemtoWoC in terms of
d [m] crosstalk cancellation over the air-link.
MIMO processing and the reduced radio
Figure 5. FemtoWoC coexistence with xDSL services. FemtoWoC signal is transmitter-to-receiver distance in femtocells
subject to crosstalk from other phone lines in the same bundle carrying lead to SINR levels that could motivate the
xDSL/T1 services (cable-noise scenarios A, B, C). employment of modulation formats spectrally

184 IEEE Communications Magazine • May 2013

SPAGNOLINI LAYOUT_Layout 1 4/29/13 1:11 PM Page 185

more efficient than those prescribed for macro-

cell-oriented radio protocols (e.g. 64QAM for α d Multi-cell BS

IEEE 802.16e). FemtoWoC over short cable dis-



.. ..

MIMO proc
tances could employ higher bit loading schemes. (a)
This leaves room for the design of techniques to UM

better exploit the existing communication stan- α
Twisted pair
dards, or even new solutions such as employing telephone
VDSL/VDSL2 as end-to-end protocol. xDSL lines DSLs network

Noise scenario B (without VDSL)
Air throughput (b)
Focusing on the main limitations in conventional

FemtoWoC average throughput [Mbit/s]

femtocells, in this article we propose a novel 30 FemtoWoC
femtocell architecture based on the wireless over FemtoWoC
(only cable MIMO) (compound MIMO)
cable paradigm (FemtoWoC) to exploit the 20
existing copper, at least for the last-mile. Coexis- 10
tence of femtocells/macrocell leads to a loss in
the air-throughput that cannot be compensated 0 500 1000 1500
for by the conventional femtocell implementa- Noise scenario C (with VDSL)
tion. The FemtoWoC architecture guarantees 50
Air throughput (c)
the synchronization among femtocells, and the 40
multi-cell MIMO processing can mitigate the FemtoWoC
detrimental radio interference, and can theoreti- 30 (compound MIMO)
cally guarantee the whole air-throughput at 20 (only cable MIMO)
remote destination. FemtoWoC requires mean-
ingful changes in the network architecture. The
centralized interference mitigation/resource 0
0 500 1000 1500
management can set dynamic strategies to better d [m]
exploit the benefits of the distributed antennas M=2 M=4 M=6
system either as receiving and transmitting
MIMO processing, and by balancing the traffic Figure 6. Average uplink throughput versus cable coupling length d for varying
load over space (among cells), spectrum and the number of femtocells M for compound (air+cable) MIMO (solid lines)
even among air-protocols. and cable MIMO (dashed lines) processing: b) crosstalk noise scenario B
System-level analysis for Wireless over Cop- (without VDSL disturbers); c) crosstalk noise scenario C (with 20 VDSL dis-
per telephone lines shows that the FemtoWoC turbers).
architecture is highly beneficial in overcoming
detrimental interference among neighboring [9] “Multimedia over Coax Alliance Field Test Report Execu-
femtocells. The coexistence with VDSL services tive Summary,” Tech. rep., June 2005.
on the same spectral allocation is the main limit- [10] IEEE 802.16e-2005, “IEEE Standard for Local and
ing factor for FemtoWoC signals, and their Metropolitan Area Networks — Part 16: Air Interface
for Fixed Broadband Wireless Access Systems,” Feb.
degree of coexistence could be an open issue. 2006.
Resource management and scheduling of Fem- [11] ITU-T Rec. G.993.1, “Very-high-speed Digital Sub-
toWoC signal is a crucial issue that calls for scriber Line (VDSL) Transceiver,” June 2004.
novel optimized cross-layer policies to account [12] D. A. Johns and D. Essig, “Integrated Circuits for Data
Transmission Over Twisted-Pair Channels,” IEEE J. Solid-
for the whole air and cable chain by merging State Circuits, vol. 32, no. 3, Mar. 1997, pp. 398–406.
wireless and xDSL experience. [13] ITU-T Rec. G.996.1, “Test Procedure for Digital Sub-
scriber Line (DSL) Transceivers,” June 1999.
[14] M. L. Honig, P. Crespo, and K. Steiglitz, “Suppression
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IEEE Communications Magazine • May 2013 185