This paper addresses the problem of channel estimation in multi-cell interference-limited cellular networks. We consider systems employing multiple antennas and are interested in both the finite and large-scale antenna number regimes (socalled "Massive MIMO"). Such systems deal with the multi-cell interference by way of per-cell beamforming applied at each base station. Channel estimation in such networks, which is known to be hampered by the pilot contamination effect, constitute a major bottleneck for overall performance. We present a novel approach which tackles this problem by enabling a low-rate coordination between cells during the channel estimation phase itself. The coordination makes use of the additional second-order statistical information about the user channels, which are shown to offer a powerful way of discriminating across interfering users with even strongly correlated pilot sequences. Importantly, we demonstrate analytically that in the large number of antennas regime the pilot contamination effect is made to vanish completely under certain conditions on the channel covariance. Gains over the conventional channel estimation framework are confirmed by our simulations for even small antenna array sizes.
A coordinated approach to channel estimation in large-scale multiple-antenna systems
IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, Special Issue on: Large Scale Antenna Systems, February 2013, Volume 31, N°2
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