Abstract: This paper is motivated by the need for fundamental understanding of ultimate limits of bandwidth efficient delivery of higher bit-rates in digital wireless communications and to also begin to look into how these limits might be approached. We examine exploitation of multi-element array (MEA) technology, that is processing the spatial dimension (not just the time dimension) to improve wireless capacities in certain applications. Specifically, we present some basic information theory results that promise great advantages of using MEAs in wireless LANs and building to building wireless communication links. We explore the important case when the channel characteristic is not available at the transmitter but the receiver knows (tracks) the characteristic which is subject to Rayleigh fading. Fixing the overall transmitted power, we express the capacity offered by MEA technology and we see how the capacity scales with increasing SNR for a large but practical number, n, of antenna elements at both transmitter and receiver.
We investigate the case of independent Rayleigh faded paths between antenna elements and find that with high probability extraordinary capacity is available. Compared to the baseline n = 1 case, which by Shannon‘s classical formula scales as one more bit/cycle for every 3 dB of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) increase, remarkably with MEAs, the scaling is almost like n more bits/cycle for each 3 dB increase in SNR. To illustrate how great this capacity is, even for small n, take the cases n = 2, 4 and 16 at an average received SNR of 21 dB. For over 99% of the channels the capacity is about 7, 19 and 88 bits/cycle respectively, while if n = 1 there is only about 1.2 bit/cycle at the 99% level. For say a symbol rate equal to the channel bandwith, since it is the bits/symbol/dimension that is relevant for signal constellations, these higher capacities are not unreasonable. The 19 bits/cycle for n = 4 amounts to 4.75 bits/symbol/dimension while 88 bits/cycle for n = 16 amounts to 5.5 bits/symbol/dimension. Standard approaches such as selection and optimum combining are seen to be deficient when compared to what will ultimately be possible. New codecs need to be invented to realize a hefty portion of the great capacity promised.