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BER Analysis of 802.

11b Networks under Mobility



Puttipong Mahasukhon, Michael Hempel,
Hamid Sharif, Ting Zhou, Song Ci
Computer and Electronics Engineering Department
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE, USA
hsharif@unl.edu
Hsiao-Hwa Chen
Institute of Communications Engineering
National Sun Yat-Sen University
Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
hshwchen@mail.nsysu.edu.tw


AbstractMost of the current 802.11b research activities are
conducted under stationary environment. As the need for high-
speed connectivity in mobile environments increases, it becomes
necessary to understand the impact of mobility on performance
characteristics of 802.11b. In this paper, we present an
investigation of the mobility impact on performance of the
802.11b system with Rician/Rayleigh fading under different client
velocities. This includes analysis of the Doppler shift caused by
the velocity of transmitter and receiver, the multipath
interference due to reflections and diffractions from terrains in
the radio service coverage area, and other serious impairing
factors. We have also studied the bit error rate performances for
various velocities with different data rates. Our analysis includes
our analytical and simulation data verified with the results from
our 3.5 mile Federal Railroad Administration test bed on the
BNSF railroad track in Nebraska. Our results show that the
current implementation of 802.11b standard has promising
potential to be used in a mobile environment if the line-of-sight
path between transmitter and receiver exists.
Keywords-802.11b, BER, Doppler shift, fading, wireless
I. INTRODUCTION
In recent years, IEEE 802.11b WLAN Wireless (WLAN)
has become the dominant technology for wireless networking
in stationary and indoor environments. As the demand for
broadband mobile data services increases, it becomes necessary
to evaluate the 802.11b [1] as a possible solution for the mobile
wireless technology. However, only a few research activities
have focused on mobile environments and have investigated in
different aspects.
Many research works have been reported on the
performance of 802.11 PHY over AWGN channel and
stationary cases to obtain its base-line performance. In [2],
Rayleigh fading was utilized to analyze the performance of an
IEEE 802.11-like MAC protocol and calculated a signal-to-
noise ratio (SNR) that varies over time. However, the
simulation just supported 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps data rates and
did not include CCK modulation. In [3], Hoene et al. explored
the impact of users slow motion on the wireless link quality,
but they did not measure the impact of users high velocity
mobility on throughput and packet loss over IEEE 802.11b. In
[4], Steger et al. tested the performance of 802.11b while
varying the delay spread, velocity, and SNR of an emulated
channel. However, all their tests were performed for only one
particular set of wireless LAN adapter cards which can not be
generalized. In [5], Kim et al. evaluated the 802.11b PHY
performance by using symbol error rate (SER) instead of bit
error rate (BER); then, used SER to find packet error rate
(PER) based on the number of symbols in a data packet. They
ignored the fact that one symbol error may not cause the bit
error. Additionally, they worked only over AWGN channel and
did not go further to include fading impact.
The goal of our study is to extensively analyze the effects
of mobility on standard wireless technologies as well as
evaluating their feasibility for applications in such an
environment as railroads. Our study focuses on 802.11b
standard under mobile scenarios for a variety of velocities with
different data rates. Our results display the BER characteristics
of mobile scenarios under various velocities with different
transmission rates and in different fading channel conditions.
This paper is a part of a study conducted for the Federal
Railroad Administration (FRA) in analyzing the performance
of standard wireless technologies for the mobile railroad
environments. A 3.5-mile test bed has been established on the
BNSF railroad in Nebraska with the 802.11a and 80.11b
systems to investigate the impacts of mobility on end-to-end
performance. A detailed report on this test bed is reported in
[15].
This paper is organized as follows: Section II discusses the
theoretical analysis on the impact of mobility. In section III, we
provide description of our simulation environment that we
utilize to validate and establish BER characteristics. Section IV
discusses our results and analysis, and Section V provides
discussion of our test bed results and finally. Section VI has our
conclusions.
II. IMPACT OF MOBILITY
The behavior of a typical mobile wireless channel is
considerably more complex than that of an Additive White
Gaussian Noise (AWGN) channel. The mobile wireless
channel is susceptible to a number of impairments including
multipath, fading, shadowing, interference and noise. These
impairments can cause large degradation on performance when
compared to AWGN channel. This section discusses the impact
of these effects in more detail.
A. BER Analysis over Fading Channels
The performance of the different modulation techniques
associated with each 802.11b channel data rate can be
described by their corresponding probability of bit error (P
b
).
This work has been funded by the Federal Railroad Administration
(FRA), Union Pacific, and BNSF Railroads.
1-4244-0353-7/07/$25.00 2007 IEEE
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the ICC 2007 proceedings.
The BER for DBPSK is given in [6] as

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
0
_
exp
2
1
N
E
P
b
DBPSK b
(1)
The BER for DQPSK is defined as

( ) ( ) ( )|
.
|

\
|
+ =
2 2
0 1 _
2
1
exp
2
1
, b a ab I b a Q P
DQPSK b
(2)
where Q
1
(a,b) is the Marcum Q-function, given by [7] as

( ) ( )dx ax I
a x
x b a Q
b
0
2 2
1
2
exp ,

|
|
.
|

\
| +
=
(3)
and I
0
(ab) is the modified Bessel function of the first kind and
zero order with parameters a and b are defined as:

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
2
1
1
2
0
N
E
a
b ,
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ =
2
1
1
2
0
N
E
b
b (4)
Finally, the BER for CCK is defined in [8] as

( )
dz e dy e P
z
M
X
X z
X z
y
CCK b
2
1
2
2
_
2 2
2
1
1

+
+

|
|
.
|

\
|
=

(5)

0
2
N
E
X
b
=
(6)
However, in order to evaluate performance of a particular
modulation in the presence of a fading channel, it is necessary
to average the P
b
(x) of the modulation in different channels
over the possible ranges of signal strengths due to fading.
Hence, the average error probability in the presence of fading is
obtained by averaging the conditional error probability over the
fading probability density function.
( ) ( ) d f x P P
b b

=
0
| (7)
where f () is probability density function of fading channel and
( ) | x P
b
is probability of bit error given by instantaneous
SNR .
Two of the most commonly used fading channel models are
Rayleigh fading channel and Rician fading channel. The
Rayleigh probability density function is defined as [6]

<

|
|
.
|

\
|

=
0 0
0
2
exp
) (
2
2
2
r
r
r r
r p
Rayleigh
(8)

[ ]
2
2
2
r E
=
(9)
where r is the envelope amplitude of the received signal, is
the rms value of the received voltage signal before envelope
detection and
2
is the time-average power of the received
signal before envelope detection. The Rayleigh probability
density function (pdf) results from having no line-of-sight
(NLOS) component of the signal; thus, it represents the pdf
associated with the worst case of fading per mean received
signal power. When there is a dominant non-fading signal
component present, such as a line-of-sight (LOS) propagation
path, the small-scale fading envelope is described by Rician
fading distribution. The Rician probability density function is
given by [6]

<
|
.
|

\
|
|
|
.
|

\
| +

=
0 0
0
2
exp
) (
2 0 2
2 2
2
r
r
Ar
I
A r r
r p
Rician
(10)

2
2
2
A
K =
(11)
where the parameter A denotes the peak amplitude of the
dominant signal. The K-factor parameter, which is part of the
statistical description of the Rician distribution, represents the
ratio between direct-path (line-of-sight) power and diffuse
power. The ratio here is expressed linearly, not in decibels.
In order to obtain the bit error rate in a Rayleigh fading
channel we first obtain its instantaneous SNR as

0
2
N
E
r
b
=
(12)
where r is a fading distributed random variable. Also, the
average SNR for Rayleigh fading can be easily obtained by

0
2
0
2
2 ] [
N
E
N
E
r E
b b
= =
(13)
After we substitute (8) by using (12) and (13), the Rayleigh
probability density function can be rewritten as


|
|
.
|

\
|
= r
r E
r
r E
r
r p
Rayleigh
0
] [
exp
] [
2
) (
2
2
2
(14)
Consequently, the Rayleigh probability density function
with respect to is obtained by

dr d
r p
p
Rayleigh
Rayleigh

) (
) ( =
(15)


|
|
.
|

\
|
=

0 exp
1
) (
Rayleigh
p
(16)
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the ICC 2007 proceedings.
Then, we consider another case for Rician fading. The
strong line-of-sight path is taken into account, so the average
SNR for Rician fading is

( ) ( )
0
2
0
2
2
1
] [
1
N
E
K
N
E r E
K
b b

+ = + =
(17)
By using the same manner, the Rician pdf in (10) can be
written with respect to as

( )
( )
( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +
=
+

K K
I e e
K
p
K
K
Rician
1 4 1 2
) (
0
1
(18)
B. DBPSK Performance over fading channel
The DBPSK modulation is employed in 1 Mbps operation
mode. The probability of bit error for DBPSK modulation over
AWGN is represented by (1) and the multipath fading wireless
channel is modeled by the Rayleigh distribution in (16).
Finally, by replacing (7), the probability of bit error over
Rayleigh fading channel for DBPSK can be expressed as

( )

d P
Rayleigh DBPSK b
|
|
.
|

\
|
=

+
exp
1
exp
2
1
0
_
(19)

( ) +
=
+
1 2
1
_ Rayleigh DBPSK b
P
(20)
By using (7), (12), and (18), the probability of bit error in
Rician fading channel for DBPSK is given by

( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +

+ +
+
=
+

K
K
K
K
P
Rician DBPSK b
1
exp
1 2
1
_
(21)
C. DQPSK Performance over fading channel
The DQPSK modulation is employed in 2 Mbps operation
mode. The probability of bit error for DQPSK over AWGN
channel is represented by (2) and the multipath fading wireless
channel is modeled by the Rayleigh distribution in (16).
Consequently, we can write the BER formula over Rayleigh
fading channel for DQPSK.

( ) ( ) ( )

d b a ab I b a Q
P
Rayleigh DQPSK b
(

|
.
|

\
|
+
|
|
.
|

\
|
=

+
2 2
0 1
0
_
2
1
exp
2
1
,
exp
1
(22)
where Q
1
(a,b) is the Marcum Q-function, I
0
(ab) is the modified
Bessel function of the first kind and zero order, and parameters
a and b are defined as

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
2
1
1 2 a
,
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ =
2
1
1 2 b
(23)
However, to directly solve the integrals involving the
Marcum Q-function is not an easy task. In [9], Gaur and
Annamalai proposed a close form formula for integrals
involving the generalized Marcum Q-function to solve error
probability applications in Rayleigh and Nakagami-m channels
using the hypergeometric function. Recently, Simon and
Alouini presented a unified approach for evaluating the error
performance over fading channels using alternative
representations of the Gaussian and Marcum Q-function [10].
Their resulting expressions for average error rates are in the
form of single finite-range integrals, whose integrand contains
the moment generating function (MGF) of the instantaneous
SNR. Since the MGF of is the Laplace transform of p() with
the exponent reversed in sign, the desired form of the Marcum
Q-function can be available in the form of a Laplace transform
with respect to . Equation (24) denotes the MGF of .

( ) ( )

d p e s M
s

=
0
(24)
By using the MGF-based approach, the average BER in
Rayleigh fading channel for DQPSK is given by [11]

( )
2
_ 2
1 2 1
1 1 1
2 2
b DQPSK Rayleigh
P

+
(
+
(
=
(

(25)
which is equivalent to a result obtained by [12] as

(
(

+ +
=
+
2
_
2 4 1
2
1
2
1

Rayleigh DQPSK b
P
(26)
In addition, using (2), (7), and (18), the BER close form
over Rician fading channel for DQPSK can be derived by

( ) ( )
( )
( )
( )
( )

d
K K
I e e
K
e ab I b a Q P
K
K
b a
Rician DQPSK b
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +

(
(

=
+

|
.
|

\
|
+
+
1 4 1 2
2
1
,
0
1
0
2
1
0 1 _
2 2
(27)
or by using the MGF-based approach, the average BER in
Rician fading channel for DQPSK is expressed as [11]

( )
( )
( ) ( ) [ ]

d
K
K
K
K K e
P
K
Rician DQPSK b
cos 2 2 1 cos 2
1
cos 2 2 1
1
exp
2
0
_
+ +
+

+ +
+
=

+
(28)
D. CCK Performance over fading channel
For the CCK modulation, the probability of bit error
formula for M-ary Bi-Orthogonal Keying is used. Probability
of bit error for the CCK modulation over AWGN channel is
described by (5). Consequently, the total P
b
of the system in the
Rayleigh fading channel is
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the ICC 2007 proceedings.

( )

d dz e dy e
P
z
M
z
z
y
Rayleigh CCK b
(
(
(

|
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
|
=

+
+

2
1
2
2
2
2
2
0
_
2 2
2
1
1
exp
1
(29)
Since calculation of P
b
is performed for a hundred
thousands values of distance, the use of the above formula is
time consuming. By applying the MGF-based approach, we
obtain the average BER over Rayleigh fading channel [8]

( )
( )
|
|
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
+

+
1
1
1
1
_
1 1
1
1
1 2
2
M
m s
m
k
k
Rayleigh CCK b
m
m
M
P

(30)
where k is log
2
M and
s

is the average symbol SNR which


equals to k times of average SNR per bit. Note that M is 4 for
5.5 Mbps and 8 for 11 Mbps. For Rician fading channels, the
average BER can be derived by using (5), (7), and (18)

( ) ( )
( )
( )

d dz e dy e e
K K
I e
K
P
z
M
X
X z
X z
y
K
K
Rician CCK b
(
(
(

|
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
|
+ +
=

+
+

2
1
2
2
1
0
0 _
2 2
2
1
1
1 4 1 2
(31)
or by using the MGF-based approach, the average BER in
Rician fading channel for CCK is given by

( ) ( )
( )
( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ + + +

|
|
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ + + +
+
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
+

+
s
c
M
m s
m
k
k
Rician CCK b
K m K
Km
K m K
K
m
M
P

1 1
exp
1 1
1
1
1
1 2
2
1
1
1
1
_
(32)
III. SIMULATION DESCRIPTION
Although the BER close form formula can provide us the
approximate probability of bit error over different
communication channels, the formulas do not consider
mobility. In our project for the FRA signal degradation due to
mobility is a very important factor to analyze.
In order to investigate the performance characteristic of the
802.11b with mobility factor, simulation with Doppler shift
control becomes an alternative to measure BER performance.
We set up 802.11b models in MATLAB and Simulink [13].
Different modulations/demodulations are employed for each
channel mode. MATLAB contains a baseband simulation of a
Rician fading channel. The Jakes power spectral density (PSD)
is used to determine the spectrum of the Rician process [14]. In
this environment we simulated the BER performance of
802.11b by varying the velocity, SNR, and K-factor of a mobile
wireless channel. Relative motion between the transmitter and
receiver causes Doppler shifts in the signal frequency. In each
run, the simulation stops if we generate 50 million bits or detect
more than 10,000 bit errors and the bit error rate was
calculated. Several representative values for K were chosen for
these simulations. To determine which K-factors to select, we
first plotted the BER performance of DBPSK in a Rician
fading channel, which can be seen in Fig. 1, by using (21) and
vary different K-factors. Additionally, it can help us to validate
the simulation results.

Figure 1. Bit error rates for 802.11b 1 Mbps operation mode (DBPSK) over
a Rician fading channel with variation of K-factor
In the case of K equal to 0 (NLOS propagation path), we
are simulating a Rayleigh fading channel. We determined that
the performance will be close to that of an AWGN channel if
the K-factor equals to or exceeds 1000 (very strong LOS path).
For a more realistic model we also considered K = 10 and K =
20 to demonstrate the performance between the BER curve of
the AWGN channel and that of a Rayleigh fading channel. In
addition we also simulated the system for various maximum
Doppler shift frequencies calculated by using velocities of 0 to
80 mph in increments of 10 mph.
IV. SIMULATION RESULTS
In this section, the BER performance over a slow-fading
Rician channel is presented with various velocities, SNR, and
K-factors.
Fig. 2 shows the BER performance as a function of average
chip energy over power spectral density of noise (E
c
/N
0
) over
the Rician fading channel with K = 1000. A closer analysis
shows that there are multiple lines almost perfectly overlapping
for each data rate. Each line represents BER for a specific data
rate and velocity. Comparing the BER of 1 Mbps in Fig. 2 to
the BER of DBPSK over AWGN channel (K = 1000) in Fig. 1,
we can determine that the BER curves are identical. If we
consider a BER of 10
-5
the required E
c
/N
0
to reach BER of 10
-5

is about 0 dB in both Fig. 1 and Fig. 2. Therefore, we observe
that for our chosen velocities there is no effect on the BER in
an AWGN channel when the strong LOS path exists.
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the ICC 2007 proceedings.

Figure 2. Bit error rates over a Rician fading channel with K = 1000
(performance approx. equals AWGN channel)
Fig. 3 illustrates the BER results of the 802.11b system
over Rician fading channel with the K-factor of 20. This
represents most outdoor environments with few surrounding
objects. Velocities between 0 mph and 80 mph were simulated.
At BER of 10
-5
for each operation mode, E
c
/N
0
of the lowest
speed and the highest speed is separated by approximately 1
dB. Thus, we can say that the relative velocity does not have
much influence on the BER in fading channel for typical
outdoor environments.

Figure 3. Bit error rates over a Rician fading channel with K = 20
Fig. 4 presents the BER results of the system over Rician
fading channel with the K-factor of 10. This represents most
suburban outdoor environments or indoor environments with
some LOS power. Considering a BER of 10
-5
for each
operation mode, the differences of E
c
/N
0
between the minimum
speed and the maximum speed are less than 3 dB. Although the
performance difference between the lowest speed and the
highest speed in this case is slightly noticeable at the lower
BER, the effect of Doppler shift is still considered as having a
negligibly small effect on BER performance.

Figure 4. Bit error rates over a Rician fading channel with K = 10
In cases of indoor environments with many surrounding
objects there will be no LOS path between transmitter and
receiver for which a Rician fading channel with K = 0 is
representative (Rayleigh fading). Fig. 5 illustrates the BER
results of the system over Rayleigh fading channel for each
data rate and different relative motion. Even though it
represents one of the worst cases for wireless communication
channels, we can determine that the degradation of the BER
due to increasing mobile nodes speed is again negligible.

Figure 5. Bit error rates over a Rician fading channel with K = 0
(performance over Rayleigh fading channel)
V. VERIFICATION FROM OUR TEST BED
This project also utilizes a 3.5 mile test bed, which was
used to verify our simulation results. We placed access points
(APs) close to the track and utilized a HyRail vehicle provided
by BNSF to drive on the track and measured our
communication parameters. Fig. 8 show the relative locations
of APs on the BNSF railroad track. The red circles do not
denote APs actual coverage areas. Instead they are only a rough
guideline for spacing of the AP locations. We performed tests
for velocities of 25, 45, and 55 mph. More details about our test
bed can be found in [15]. From our results it becomes apparent
This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the ICC 2007 proceedings.
that the velocity of the mobile node has only minor influence
on the overall throughput. However, we observed some
fluctuations in the throughput that we attribute to other objects
within the coverage area, e.g. passing cars, trees and other
obstructions between the mobile client and the APs locations.
We also evaluated our captured packets and observed that
most bit errors occurred in bursts, thus verifying our statement
that mobile wireless channels for slow motion (less than 80
mph) can be determined as slow fading because a fade level
affects many successive bits once the fading occurs. However,
the number of bits we collected is not large enough to plot
smooth BER curves. An inherent difficulty in our experiments
is that we cannot separate the parameters of SNR and velocity
from each other. Moving in our environment necessitates a
change in position relative to the AP, which in turn changes the
experienced SNR. Therefore, it is quite difficult to control SNR
in the test bed to get the corresponding BER. We are
attempting to compensate for this by utilizing large numbers of
repetitions for each experiment we perform.
Fig. 6 and 7 show some of the results we obtained in our
field tests. Here we performed throughput tests for different
velocities (25, 45 and 55 mph) and measured the throughput
obtained while driving through our test bed setup. The graphs
show the obtained throughput and the velocity. We measured
the throughput for 11 Mbps, 5.5 Mbps, 2 Mbps and 1 Mbps
channel data rate, with 11 and 5.5 Mbps performed twice. The
figures show that the velocitys impact on the throughput is
negligible.
Throughput vs. Time
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
10:33:36 11:45:36 12:57:36 14:09:36 15:21:36
Time
T
h
r
o
u
g
h
p
u
t

(
M
b
p
s
)
Throughput

Figure 6. Throughput results with Mobility
Velocity vs Time
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
10:33:36 11:45:36 12:57:36 14:09:36 15:21:36
Time
V
e
l
o
c
i
t
y

(
m
p
h
)
Velocity

Figure 7. Associated Velocities for Mobility runs

Figure 8. AP locations for our test bed
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This full text paper was peer reviewed at the direction of IEEE Communications Society subject matter experts for publication in the ICC 2007 proceedings.