Capacity of Sparse Multipath Channels in the Ultra-Wideband Regime

Vasanthan Raghavan, Gautham Hariharan, Akbar Sayeed

This paper studies the ergodic capacity of time- and frequency-selective multipath fading channels in the ultrawideband (UWB) regime when training signals are used for channel estimation at the receiver. Motivated by recent measurement results on UWB channels, we propose a model for sparse multipath channels. A key implication of sparsity is that the independent degrees of freedom (DoF) in the channel scale sub-linearly with the signal space dimension (product of signaling duration and bandwidth). Sparsity is captured by the number of resolvable paths in delay and Doppler. Our analysis is based on a training and communication scheme that employs signaling over orthogonal short-time Fourier (STF) basis functions. STF signaling naturally relates sparsity in delay-Doppler to coherence in time-frequency. We study the impact of multipath sparsity on two fundamental metrics of spectral efficiency in the wideband/low-SNR limit introduced by Verdu: first- and second-order optimality conditions. Recent results by Zheng et. al. have underscored the large gap in spectral efficiency between coherent and non-coherent extremes and the importance of channel learning in bridging the gap. Building on these results, our results lead to the following implications of multipath sparsity: 1) The coherence requirements are shared in both time and frequency, thereby significantly relaxing the required scaling in coherence time with SNR; 2) Sparse multipath channels are asymptotically coherent -- for a given but large bandwidth, the channel can be learned perfectly and the coherence requirements for first- and second-order optimality met through sufficiently large signaling duration; and 3) The requirement of peaky signals in attaining capacity is eliminated or relaxed in sparse environments.

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