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

3
¸
feθ
2.5
(2)
R

e
(f) = b
0

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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