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Massive MIMO and Beamforming: The Signal Processing Behind the 5G Buzzwords

Introduction

Our thirst for high speed mobile data is insatiable. As we saturate the available RF spectrum in dense urban environments, it’s becoming apparent that there’s a need to increase the efficiency of how we transmit and receive data from wireless base stations.

Base stations consisting of large numbers of antennas that simultaneously communicate with multiple spatially separated user terminals over the same frequency resource and exploit multipath propagation are one option to achieve this efficiency saving. This technology is often referred to as massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output). You may have heard massive MIMO described as beamforming with a large number of antennas. But this raises the question … what is beamforming?


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