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# 292 PIERS Proceedings, Cambridge, USA, July 5–8, 2010

**Comparison of Bit Error Rate for Propagation Mechanisms of
**

Millimeter Waves in a Practical Communication Systems

Employing PSK and FSK

Preethi Kumar and M. Jayakumar

Applied Electromagnetics Research Group, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering

Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University), Coimbatore, India

Abstract— Millimeter waves have opened a new door to next generation communication sys-

tems. These high-frequency signals are advantageous due to the high bandwidths, and hence,

the high data rates they present. However, their main drawback is the presence of attenuation

factors that adversely aﬀect the quality of the received signal. We have described the various

propagation mechanisms that lead to the attenuation of radio waves in the frequency range of

40 GHz for diﬀerent modulation techniques such as m-PSK and m-FSK. The comparison shows

that, as the number of signals needed to represent the digital information increases, the Bit Er-

ror Rate (BER) of the PSK system increases, while the BER of an FSK system decreases. We

have concluded that BPSK, QPSK or 8FSK are the most advantageous modulation schemes in

a practical communication system, under worst case climatic conditions.

1. INTRODUCTION

Consider a practical communication system transmitting and receiving millimeter waves. In the

transmitter side, the antenna technology for millimeter wave signal propagation shows a lot of

challenges in the wide band design [2]. Khaddaj Mallat et al. [3] have shown the variation of

the BER at the receiving end, with Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR), with operating frequency and

with local oscillator power for the six port receiver architecture, which shows superior performance

when compared with the conventional homodyne receiver architecture for the QPSK modulation

scheme. A number of propagation mechanisms exist between the transmitter and the receiver. The

extensive study on millimeter wave propagation under various propagation parameters that has

been published by Federal Communication Commission [4] gives the insight into the attenuation in

this frequency band.

The channel between the transmitter and the receiver consists of atmospheric gases, dry air,

water vapor, buildings and vegetation, each of which act as an attenuation factor, thus increasing

the BER of the communication system. Underwater micro wave propagation is aﬀected by sea

water attenuation. The main cause of dispersion of energy of a transmitted millimeter wave is the

free space path loss modeled by the Friis formula [1]. In addition, atmospheric attenuation occurs

due to absorption caused by diﬀerent gases present in the atmosphere. The so caused attenuation

does not follow a monotonic pattern. It has peak attenuation at frequencies corresponding to the

absorption frequency of speciﬁc gases present in the atmosphere. For example, oxygen absorption

occurs at 60 GHz. Thus, the BER is extremely high at this frequency. However, the BER at

70 GHz is much lower since no absorption spectrum is present at that frequency. A graph of the

frequency vs. attenuation caused due to atmosphere has been plotted in [5]. The loss due to

atmosphere is further increased by the presence of water vapor, which cause refractive dispersion

losses. The attenuation due to atmosphere has been modeled as a function of temperature, pressure,

humidity and frequency in [6]. Another major factor causing the attenuation of millimeter waves

is the scattering and reﬂection due to buildings [7, 8], which has been modeled as functions of their

geometry and the material out of which they are constructed. Another natural cause of attenuation

is vegetation. The height of the vegetation and the frequency are the major parameters that decide

the loss due to vegetation [7].

2. MODELLING THE RECEIVED SIGNAL

Let the transmitted signal have a power P

t

. Let the received power be P

r

. The frequency of the

millimeter waves is denoted by f. The distance between the transmitter and receiver is D. Let c be

the speed of light. Let G

t

and G

r

represent the transmitter and receiver antenna gains respectively.

The upper limit of the power received, when power P

t

is transmitted is given by the Friis formula,

which accounts for the free space path loss [1]:

Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium Proceedings, Cambridge, USA, July 5–8, 2010 293

P

r

= P

t

G

t

G

r

_

c

4πDf

_

2

(1)

Loss due to atmospheric gases has been measured accurately and its variation with frequency

has been plotted in [5]. We have taken the value of attenuation at 40 GHz from this report, in

order to calculate the BER. Let the values of loss obtained from this graph be denoted by L

atm

.

Apart from atmospheric gases, a typical component present in the atmosphere is water vapor. The

attenuation due to water vapor is due to refractive dispersion denoted by R

(f) and refractive

absorption denoted by R

**(f) [6]. The frequency independent refractivity is denoted by R
**

0

. All

three refractions are in parts per million (ppm). The following empirical results are stated for

refraction due to water vapor

R

e

(f) =

_

b

f

p +b

e

eθ

3

¸

feθ

2.5

(2)

R

e

(f) = b

0

eθ

2.4

f

2.05

(3)

where b

0

= 6.47 ×10

−6

, b

f

= 1.40 ×10

−6

, b

e

= 5.4 ×10

−5

.

The attenuation is given by:

L

wv

=

_

d

0

α(x)dx (4)

α(x) = 0.1820fR

(f) (5)

Loss due to buildings is modeled based on their physical geometry and the characteristics of mate-

rials out of which they are constructed. The expression for loss is given as [7]:

L

b

= S

G

S

R

µ

p

(6)

where S

G

: Scattering coeﬃcient based on the geometry of the building, S

R

: Reﬂection coeﬃcient

based on the material of the building and µ

p

is the polarization coeﬃcient. The reﬂection coeﬃcient

S

R

is material speciﬁc and is calculated as a function of the surface roughness which in turn is

deﬁned by the Rayleigh roughness criterion. The polarization coeﬃcient µ

p

is deﬁned in terms of

incident and reﬂected azimuthal and elevation angles. The expression for loss due to vegetation

has been empirically derived [7] as:

L

veg

= 0.39f

0.39

d

0.25

— Trees with leaves (7)

L

veg

= 0.37f

0.18

d

0.59

— Trees without leaves (8)

where, L: Loss in dB, f: Frequency in MHz, d: Height of the vegetation in meters.

For a channel consisting of buildings made of wood and having vegetation of height 0.5 m, we

deﬁne the received power P

r

as:

P

r

= 10 log P

t

+20 log c−20 log 4πD−20 log f −10 log L

atm

−10 log L

wv

−10 log L

b

−10 log L

veg

(9)

3. MODELLING THE BER FOR THE RECEIVED POWER

Expressions for the BER in an m-PSK and an m-FSK system are presented below. They have been

calculated with the help of the mathematical formulae given in [9].

4. SIMULATION RESULTS OF BER

Under free-space, clear sky, Line of Sight (LOS) conditions, the variation of power received with

distance of propagation, for various EIRP values at 40 GHz is shown in Figure 1. For an EIRP

of 50 dB, the power received is −54.48 dB at a distance of 100 m and it decreases to −88.48 dB

at a distance of 5 km. This ﬁgure has been taken as a reference for the analysis of propagation

mechanisms.

In order to evaluate the Bit Error Rate of a practical communication system employing PSK

or FSK, we substitute the values of received power P

r

into the BER equations. The simulation

parameters are as deﬁned below.

Distance between transmitter and receiver: 1000 m

Pressure: 101325.024 Pa

Temperature: 288 K

Relative humidity: 0.70

The simulated values of BER for a PSK and an FSK system are shown in Figures 2 and 3.

294 PIERS Proceedings, Cambridge, USA, July 5–8, 2010

Table 1: BER of m-PSK systems.

Type of

modulation

BER expression

Binary PSK BER =

1

2

erfc

_

E

b

N

0

_

Quaternary PSK BER =

1

2

erfc

_

E

b

N

0

_

8-PSK BER =

1

3

erfc

_

_

3E

b

N

0

sin

π

8

_

16-PSK BER =

1

4

erfc

_

_

4E

b

N

0

sin

_

π

16

_

_

Table 2: BER of m-FSK systems.

Type of

modulation

BER expression

Binary FSK BER ≤

1

2

erfc

_

E

b

2N

0

_

Quaternary FSK BER ≤

3

4

erfc

_

E

b

N

0

_

8-FSK BER ≤

7

6

erfc

_

3E

b

2N

0

_

16-FSK BER ≤

15

8

erfc

_

2E

b

N

0

_

Figure 1: Received power Vs. distance at 40 GHz.

5. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Figure 2 shows the BER of a PSK system that has been aﬀected by free space path loss, atmospheric

attenuation, water vapor dispersion, reﬂection and scattering due to wooden buildings, and loss

due to vegetation. Figure 3 shows the results for a FSK system.

On comparing Figure 2 and Figure 3, we ﬁnd that the FSK system presents a better BER than

the PSK system for the same EIRP values. For smaller values of EIRP (till 41 dB), the BER oﬀered

by the FSK and PSK systems are similar. However, as the EIRP increases, the BER of the FSK

system drops at a much higher rate than the BER of the PSK system. At an EIRP of 50 dB, the

BFSK system’s BER is 10

−6

, while that of the BPSK system is only 10

−3

.

Figure 2 shows that the BERs of a BPSK and a QPSK system are equal. For low values of

EIRP, the BERs of BPSK, QPSK, 8PSK and 16PSK systems are almost the same. However, as

EIRP increases, the BER of the BPSK and QPSK systems drop in a very fast fashion, leading to

a very good BER of 10

−6

at 50 dB. It can be noted that, the BPSK and QPSK systems oﬀer the

lowest BER. We note that the BER increases as the value of M increases.

Figure 3 shows that the BER is maximum for a BFSK system. The 16FSK system oﬀers the

lowest BER. The QFSK system oﬀers a 10 times lower BER than the BFSK system. The 8FSK

system oﬀers a 100 times lower BER at the same EIRP. In contrast to PSK systems, we see that

in FSK systems, as M increases, the BER decreases rapidly. However, as M increases the number

of carrier signals also increases. This leads to complexity in demodulation. Thus, as a tradeoﬀ

between the BER and the complexity, it would be best to use 8FSK signal, which not only oﬀers a

suﬃciently low BER, but also accounts for lower complexity of system implementation than 16FSK,

especially at the receiver side.

Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium Proceedings, Cambridge, USA, July 5–8, 2010 295

Figure 2: BER Vs EIRP for a practical PSK system

in the 40 GHz range.

Figure 3: BER Vs EIRP for a practical FSK system

in the 40 GHz range.

6. CONCLUSION

We have estimated the losses caused due to various natural and man-made obstacles present in

the channel of a practical communication system, employing mm wave transmission. A number of

modulation schemes such as BPSK, QPSK, BFSK, QFSK, M-PSK and M-FSK have been described.

Their BERs have been evaluated at 40 GHz for a range of EIRPs. The comparison shows that,

as the value of M increases, the BER of PSK system increases, while the BER of an FSK system

decreases. We have concluded that BPSK, QPSK or 8FSK are the most advantageous modulation

schemes in a practical communication system, under critical climatic conditions.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita Univer-

sity) for providing necessary ﬁnancial support for this research work. The acknowledgments are

also to Mr. S. Narayanan and Mr. R. Ramanathan of the Applied Electromagnetic Research Group

for their help.

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