Abstract

The fifth generation (5G) cellular network is expected to include the millimeter wave spectrum, to increase base station density, and to employ higher-order multiple-antenna technologies. The centralized radio access network architectures combined with radio-over-fiber (RoF) links can be the key enabler to improve fronthaul networks. The sigma-delta modulated signal over fiber (SDoF) architecture has been proposed as a solution leveraging the benefits of both digitized and analog RoF. This work proposes a novel distributed antenna system using sigma-delta modulated intermediate-frequency signal over fiber (SDIFoF) links. The system has an adequately good optical bit-rate efficiency and high flexibility to switch between different carrier frequencies. The SDIFoF link transmits a signal centered at a 2.5 GHz intermediate frequency over a 100 m multi-mode fiber and the signal is up-converted to the radio frequency (24–29 GHz) at the remote radio unit. An average error vector magnitude (EVM) of 6.40% (−23.88 dB) is achieved over different carrier frequencies when transmitting a 300 MHz-bandwidth 64-QAM OFDM signal. The system performance is demonstrated by a 2 × 1 multiple-input single-output system transmitting 160 MHz-bandwidth 64-QAM OFDM signals centered at 25 GHz. Owing to transmit diversity, an average gain of 1.12 dB in EVM is observed. This work also evaluates the performance degradation caused by asynchronous phase noise between remote radio units. The performance shows that the proposed approach is a competitive solution for the 5G downlink fronthaul network for frequency bands above 24 GHz.

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