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Mathematics  2008 

Achieving Near-Capacity at Low SNR on a Multiple-Antenna Multiple-User Channel

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We analyze the sensitivity of the capacity of a multi-antenna multi-user system to the number of users being served. We show analytically that, for a given desired sum-rate, the extra power needed to serve a subset of the users at low SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) can be very small, and is generally much smaller than the extra power needed to serve the same subset at high SNR. The advantages of serving only subsets of the users are many: multi-user algorithms have lower complexity, reduced channel-state information requirements, and, often, better performance. We provide guidelines on how many users to serve to get near-capacity performance with low complexity. For example, we show how in an eight-antenna eight-user system we can serve only four users and still be approximately 2 dB from capacity at very low SNR.


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