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A Survey: Several Technologies of Non-Orthogonal

Transmission for 5G
Tao Yunzheng*1,2, Liu Long1,2, Liu Shang1,2, Zhang Zhi1,2
State Key Laboratory of Networking and Switching Technology, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications,
Beijing 100876, China
State Key Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Xian Jiaotong University, Xian 710049, China

Abstract: One key advantage of 4G OFDM I. INTRODUCTION

system is the relatively simple receiver im-
plementation due to the orthogonal resource Multiple access technology derived from the
allocation. However, from sum-capacity and pioneering contributions of Shannon[1,2] is a
spectral efficiency points of view, orthogonal key feature for modern wireless communica-
systems are never the achieving schemes. With tions. With the exponentially growing demand
the rapid development of mobile communi- of users, such as in cellular system, in order to
cation systems, a novel concept of non-or- achieve the goal of anybody who at anywhere
thogonal transmission for 5G mobile commu- can communicate with anyone at any time by
nications has attracted researches all around any communication scheme, numerous re-
the world. In this trend, many new multiple searchers have been focusing on the multiple
access schemes and waveform modulation access technology design. 1G multiple access
technologies were proposed. In this paper, technology is FDMA (Frequency Division
some promising ones of them were discussed Multiple Access)[3] based on the analog fre-
which include Non-orthogonal Multiple Ac- quency modulation. With the arrival of the
cess (NOMA), Sparse Code Multiple Access digital age, TDMA (Time Division Multiple
(SCMA), Multi-user Shared Access (MUSA), Access)[4] based on the digital modulation
Pattern Division Multiple Access (PDMA) emerged. Although 2G employed both FDMA
and some main new waveforms including and TDMA for multiple access, it was gen-
Filter-bank based Multicarrier (FBMC), erally known as TDMA due to the novelty
Universal Filtered Multi-Carrier (UFMC), of time multiplexing. 3G is CDMA (Code
Generalized Frequency Division Multiplexing Division Multiple Access)[5] era, which
(GFDM). By analyzing and comparing fea- makes use of the orthogonality of M spreading
tures of these technologies, a research direc- sequences to solve the problem of massive
tion of guiding on future 5G multiple access user access. Due to the significant problem
and waveform are given. of spectrum resources scarcity and dramatic
Keywords: non-orthogonal transmission; increase of number of users, 4G introduced
multiple access; waveform modulation; sur- OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Mul-
vey; 5G tiplexing) on the basis of CDMA, proposed
OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division

1 China Communications October 2015

Multiple Access)[6] to improve the spectral ef- and orthogonal between the sub-carriers so
ficiency and solve the problem of massive user that it cannot flexibly use the spectrum re- In this paper, prom-
connections. It can be said that multiple access sources. ising non-or thogo-
technology of each generation communication OFDM technology uses a square wave as nal multiple access

schemes and non-or-
system underwent tremendous changes, to a the baseband waveform, resulting in the
thogonal waveform
large extent they were each generations defin- larger side lobes, so that the interference modulation tech-
ing technical feature respectively. between adjacent carriers is very serious niques for 5G mobile
Mobile communications are developing when the synchronization of each sub-carri- communications are
rapidly because of the tremendous improve- er cannot be strictly guaranteed[9-11]. reviewed and com-
ment of living standards of human beings. Therefore, 5G system needs to put forward pared, and the future
development of these
Though the successive generations of mobile a new type of multiple access technology to
technologies is ana-
systems improved the service quality millions provide higher spectral efficiency and increase lyzed as well.
of times in certain aspects, peoples desire for the access capability and capacity of the sys-
higher-performance mobile communications tem[12]. Driven by this goal, many researchers
is endless. The user peak data rate and aver- proposed new multiple access schemes. In this
age cell spectral efficiency are no longer the paper, a number of promising multiple access
only requirements, instead, user experience schemes which might become 5G standard
rate, number of connections, latency, high candidates are introduced and analyzed, their
reliability, energy efficiency, etc. are all part respective basic principles, advantages, disad-
of metrics for the system design[7]. In 2014, vantages etc. are described. The largest com-
IMT-2020 Promotion Group proposed in the mon denominator of these schemes is based on
white paper 5G vision and demand[8] that the the thought of non-orthogonal transmission.
future mobile communication system (5G) Among these, some alternative non-orthogonal
will solve 1000 times or more the need for multiple access schemes attracts considerable
greater capacity, 10-100 times the mass device attention since they can serve multiple users
connections, 5-15 times improvement of the in the same frequency and time resources via
spectral efficiency compared to 4G, spectrum power domain and/or code domain multiplex-
resources scarcity problems etc.. Although the ing to enhance the system access performance.
data transmission rates of 4G is up to hundreds Non-orthogonal transmission thought not
of megabit per second, sometimes even up to only changes multiple access methods, but
Gigabit per second, which almost enables to also is bound to promote the OFDM wave-
meet the requirements of broadband mobile form to produce revolutionary changes. As we
communication applications in next period of experience with 4G networks today, typically,
time. With the continued growth in popularity filtering needs to be introduced to the trans-
of smart terminals and requirements of new mitter or receiver side to achieve coexistence.
mobile business, it will still be difficult to But doing so, chances are that orthogonal will
meet the future demand by the current trans- be forfeit. In addition, everyone knows that
mission rates of wireless communications. In Machine Type Communications (MTC) and
5G networks, OFDM (4G) may have some the Internet of Things (IoT) will be signifi-
weak points which could become more pro- cantly important application for 5G mobile
nounced: communication systems[13]. The IoT devices
OFDM needs to insert a cyclic prefix to
 to transmit their messages are loosely synchro-
combat multi-path fading, resulting in a nized relying on open-loop mechanisms (e.g.
waste of radio resources. making use of downlink synchronization sig-
It is very sensitive to the carrier frequency
 nals) and to use cheaper components (e.g. os-
offset and has a high peak to average ratio. cillators with relaxed requirements)[10]. And
It demands each sub-carrier must have the
 as the principle of OFDM hinders the efficient
same bandwidth and must be synchronized use of spectrum resources, OFDM is no longer

China Communications October 2015 2

a waveform design principle for 5G mobile Next we discuss some of the multiple access
communication systems, the need of a new schemes, which are promising to become the
type of waveform for 5G is imminent. A future 5G standard candidates.
waveform should have three main proper-
2.1 NOMA
ties[14]: the first is flexibility, so that different
applications can be addressed by a single solu- To enhance the spectrum efficiency, a non-or-
tion with different parameter settings instead thogonal multiple access (NOMA) scheme uti-
of multiple solutions. The second is especially lizing interference cancellation was proposed
useful to control the impact of interference by NTT DOCOMO, which is a promising
among multiple users and between systems in candidate as a novel cellular multiple access
adjacent frequency bands. The last is to guar- scheme for future radio access (FRA)[15-19].
antee a harmonious coexistence with other Different from traditional orthogonal trans-
technologies (e.g. new waveforms should still mission schemes, NOMA utilizes non-orthog-
be capable of MIMO), non-synchronization onal transmission on the transmitter side so
and channel estimation should be preferably that it would intentionally introduce intra-cell
easy to implement. This paper will describe and/or inter-cell interference. On the receiver
three new waveforms which are all candidate side, multi-user signal separation is conducted
waveform schemes for the air interface of 5G based on successive interference cancellation
networks. Some analyses and contrasts will be (SIC)[20]. The basic principle of NOMA is to
drawn as well. boost further the spectrum efficiency by in-
The rest of this paper is organized as fol- creasing the complexity of receiver. With the
lows: Section II introduces and analyzes four evolution of device processing capabilities, it
alternative multiple access schemes, followed will become possible to use NOMA in future
by a table to summarize each schemes fea- practical systems.
tures and some comments on future multiple There are two key technologies contained
access technology. Section III introduces and in NOMA. 1) On the user equipment (UE)
analyzes three new waveform modulation receiver side, NOMA utilizes SIC to conduct
schemes. Section IV concludes the paper. multi-user detection as Fig.1 illustrated. Like
methods to eliminate multiple access inter-
II. ALTERNATIVE MULTIPLE ACCESS ference in CDMA, it is a gradual interference
elimination strategy. Judging the user individ-
Currently the key multiple access schemes ually in the received signal and processing sig-
are still under discussion, all companies are nal amplitude recovery, then the multiple ac-
proposing their technology solutions to obtain cess interference (MAI) produced by this user
industry recognition, so that they have the could be subtracted from the received signal.
right to speak in striving setting 5G standards. Performing the same operation again for the
rest of the users eventually could remove all
of the MAI[21]. 2) NOMA is a multiplexing
Power scheme that utilizes the power domain which
Freq. is not sufficiently utilized in previous systems.
Non-orthogonality is intentionally introduced
via power-domain user multiplexing. In fact,
SIC of UE 2 UE 1 signal UE 2 signal
signal decoding decoding user demultiplexing is ensured via the alloca-
tion of large power difference between paired
High Low users and the application of SIC in power-do-
Received SINR main. It is different from the simple power
control, but power distribution by the base
Fig.1 NOMA applying SIC at UE receiver in downlink station is conducted according to the related

3 China Communications October 2015

algorithm[20]. 2.2 SCMA
Some achievements about the NOMA tech-
Besides flexible multiplexing of the time and
nology are made by foreign researchers, e.g.
frequency domain, in order to further im-
Anass Benjebbour, et al. provided system-lev-
prove spectrum efficiency, it is reasonable to
el performance of NOMA taking into account
come up with the spatial and code domain.
practical aspects of the cellular system and
Though MIMO technology was proposed in
showed that the system-level performance
LTE and will certainly be carried forward in
achieved by NOMA is higher by more than
5G through more antennas, code domain re-
30% compared to OMA (Orthogonal Multi-
sources are not fully utilized. Just right in this
ple Access)[20], including user throughput,
way, Sparse Code Multiple Access (SCMA)
etc. Mohammed Al-Imari, et al. proposed a
is a new frequency domain non-orthogonal
NOMA scheme for uplink that significantly
multiple-access technique which is put for-
improved the system performance in terms of
ward by Huawei. It invites sparse codebook
spectral efficiency and fairness comparing to
and realizes three-fold the spectrum efficiency
OFDMA[22], especially the spectral efficiency
improvement by code domain multiple access.
improved by nearly 20%. Japans NTT DoCo-
At the same time, it collects the advantages
Mo Company proposed a relatively systematic
of Low-Density Signatures (LDS)[27,28]
scheme in 2010 (e.g. NOMA access methods
which is a version of CDMA with low density
will be used in 800MHz and 2GHz band mac-
spreading sequences allowing a near optimal
ro cells). The company validated the effect of
message passing algorithm(MPA) receiver
using NOMA in urban areas by simulation,
with practically feasible complexity to be tak-
and confirmed that this method could enable
en advantage of[29], so SCMA still enjoys the
wireless access macro cell total throughput
low complexity reception technique. And it
increased by 50%[23].
also makes a lot of innovations and improve-
Compared to CDMA and OFDMA, NOMA
ments in order to reduce the cost of signaling
utilizes orthogonal transmission between the
overhead and latency and improve spectral ef-
sub channels, theres no apparent near-far
ficiency and then meet the needs of 5G mobile
effect which is obsession in 3G and the MAI
communication systems[30,31]. In SCMA, the
problems are less severe. As not requiring
procedure of bit to QAM symbol mapping and
fine feedback signaling from the user side or
spreading are combined together and incom-
channel state information (CSI), NOMA is
ing bits are directly mapped to a multidimen-
more easily to respond to various and chang-
sional code work of an SCMA codebook set.
ing link states by means of utilizing adaptive
Each layer or user has its dedicated codebook.
modulation and coding (AMC)[24] and pow-
Shaping gain of a multi-dimensional constel-
er-domain multiplexing technology, especially
lation[32,33] is one of the main sources of
in high-speed mobile environment[25]. The
the performance improvement in comparison
most important is that the same channel can
with the simple repetition of QAM symbols
be shared by multiple users, thus NOMA can
in LDS[34]. A. Bayesteh, et al. introduced the
improve the spectrum efficiency at the same
blind multi-user detection algorithm[35] which
transmission speed compared to 4G[26]. On
could simultaneously detect user status and
the other hand, NOMA is still facing some
user carrying information to support massive
problems in technical implementation. Firstly,
connectivity for grant-free multiple-access
the non-orthogonal transmission receiver is
transmission mode in future wireless networks
rather complex, SIC receiver design requires
based SCMA.
improvement in signal processing chip tech-
Because SCMA has many advantages, and
nology. Secondly, the power-domain multi-
is relatively easy to be implemented, the mul-
plexing technology is on the research stage,
tiple access techniques designed and improved
and there is still plenty of work to do.

China Communications October 2015 4

based on it can absolutely be applied into the 2.3 MUSA
uplink and downlink of 5G wireless networks.,
Multi-user Shared Access (MUSA) is a 5G
H. Nikopour, et al. firstly introduced the op-
multiple access scheme proposed by ZTE
timization of overloading factor along with
which utilizes the characteristics of good
modulation-coding levels of layers of SCMA,
spreading sequences and advanced SIC(-
then demonstrated SCMA is developed to
Successive Interference Cancelation) receiv-
enable multi-user SCMA (MU-SCMA) for
er[39-41]. In MUSA, multiple user data are
downlink wireless access. User pairing, power
respectively spread by the special spreading
sharing, rate adjustment, and scheduling algo-
sequences, then each users data spread are
rithms were designed to improve the downlink
overlapped to be transmitted, it uses advanced
cell throughput and coverage over OFDMA
SIC receiver to demodulate and recover the
by 5% and 8%, respectively[31]. In[30], the
data of each user at the receiving end. The
uplink contention-based SCMA scheme as
basic principle is described in fig.2. Most tra-
a promising technology for 5G wireless net-
ditional communication technologies (e.g. 4G)
works is proposed for data transmission with
use orthogonal methods to distinguish users,
low signaling overhead, low delay, and sup-
that is, different users are assigned different
port of massive connectivity. Finally Kelvin
time, sub-carrier, or space, which could avoid
Au., et al. demonstrated that contention-based
overlapping each other[42,43]. However,
SCMA can provide around 2.8 times gain over
MUSA assigns a new spreading sequence for
contention-based OFDMA[36] in terms of
each user, then these users are assigned at the
supported active users.
same time, sub-carrier, or space. Compared
As a novel multiple-access modulation
with the traditional code division multiple
scheme, SCMA is proposed which has advan-
access, the spreading sequence assigned by
tages of CDMA[37] and LDS as well as some
MUSA can be non-orthogonal, which is just
potential gain, such as multi-dimensional con-
for spreading spectrum. Consequently, MUSA
stellation shaping gain. Even though the struc-
needs to make use of the technology of SIC re-
ture of the code is well defined, the design and
ceiver to distinguish the different users signal.
optimization of the code are challenging. A
For instance, for two users, one is near from
sub-optimal design methodology is proposed
the base station while the other one is remote,
here based on a multi-stage optimization ap-
the traditional communication method obtains
the maximum system capacity only in the case

Signal are spread by

UE1 a specially designed UE1

Signal are spread by

UE2 a specially designed UE2


Signal are spread by

UE3 a specially designed UE3

Fig.2 Multi-user Shared Access (MUSA)

5 China Communications October 2015

which almost completely sacrifices the remote To achieve the total optimization of multiple
user. However, MUSA ensures the great sys- user communication system, PDMA takes
tem capacity, the balance between the users joint/holistic design of SIC-amenable pattern
at the same time in a relatively relaxed con- at the transmitter and low-complexity qua-
dition[44]. The characteristics of MUSA lie si-ML SIC detection[51] at the receiver. At
mainly on the system performance improved transmitter, multiple users are distinguished
significantly and the complexity controlled by non-orthogonal characteristic pattern in
flexibly, it could support a large number of single or multiple signal domains, such as
users access, moreover does not need synchro- power domain, space domain and code do-
nization in principle which is beneficial to im- main. Especially, multiple users have irregular
prove the battery life. Therefore, the technol- diversity degree to aim for SIC amenable
ogy of MUSA uplink is very suitable for the detection at receiver. At receiver, multiple
Internet of Things (IoT) network application users can get equivalent diversity degree after
[45-47]. SIC amenable detection (see Fig.3). By this
MUSA uplink access uses the innovative way, a balance between diversity degree and
complex multi-domain code design and ad- multiplexing can be achieved for PDMA.
vanced multi-user detection based on SIC to PDMA can be applied into variable scenarios,
ensure that the system supports high reliability including typical macro-cell coverage, hotspot
access for more users at the same time-fre- & indoor access, and MTC-type service, etc.
quency resource, and can simplify the process From present research results[52], PDMA can
of resource scheduling in the access process. improve capacity above 2-3 times in uplink
Therefore MUSA greatly simplifies the system system, and improve the spectral efficiency
implementation, shortens the access time of above 1.5 times in downlink system. On the
mass access and reduces energy consumption other hand, PDMA is still faced with some key
of terminals. MUSA downlink access uses problems to be solved in future applications,
new type of the superposition coding and the such as how to design patterns at transmitter to
superposition symbol expansion technology distinguish users more easily, how to simplify
to provide higher capacity than the orthogonal receiver, how to combine PDMA with MIMO
multiple access downlink transmission, simpli- to design space domain coding pattern, etc.
fy the implementation of terminal and reduce
2.5 Summary
the energy consumption of the terminal, which
is similar to MUSA uplink access[48]. Table I describes the features of the four mul-
Though MUSA is a potential multiple tiple access schemes discussed above. It can
access scheme for 5G network, it is difficult be apparently obtained that all four schemes
to find relevant information about some key achieve spectral efficiency improvement and
technologies details. Such as mapping method
of spreading sequences, criteria of pattern se-
lection, system capacity changes by number of
users increased etc. We hope to read relative P1
Power domain

papers or reports of these techniques in the fu-
s1,1 s1,2

Pattern of UE1
s 1,4

* * * s1,12,1
s1,2 s1,1 s1,3 s1,22,2
s+ s1,42,4

s1,3 s1,1 s**
1,12,1 s**
s+ s1,12,1

and UE2
s2,1 s2,2

+ UE2
s*2,2 s *2,1
s2,5 s2,3 s2,1

ture. Space domain


2.4 PDMA Codestream1

Code domain
Pattern Division Multiple Access (PDMA) UE3
UE4 UE3 Dec
[49] is a novel none orthogonal multiple ac- Pattern of UE3
and UE4
cess scheme proposed by Datang based on receiver

their former research work on SAMA (SIC

Amenable Multiple Access)[50] technology. Fig.3 PDMA technical framework on both transmitter and receiver sides

China Communications October 2015 6

system capacity enhancement as well. Mean- CDMA), SD-CDMA(SDMA and CDMA),
while, each of them should respectively ad- etc. 4) Since many new technologies were pro-
dress interference problems and some complex posed constantly, some of them could be intro-
technologies which are difficult to implement. duced into multiple access techniques on the
The academic and industrial have proposed basis of the original time-frequency domain.
a lot of multiple access technologies so far. For instance, OFMDA introduces OFDM on
We can classify some of them according to the the basis of FDMA, MIMO-SDMA introduces
following three ways: 1) according to different Massive MIMO on the basis of SDMA.
domains; 2) according to different domains
combination mode; 3) the introduction of new III. NEW WAVEFORM
technologies. The classification is shown in
Table II below. Combined with previously 5G multiple access technology is being stud-
proposed multiple-access techniques, the fur- ied prevalently and has made great progress.
ther study of new multiple access techniques At the same time, it is obviously that the new
for 5G could be considered from the following waveform study is required to support 5G
directions: 1) other domains should be ex- multiple access technology, or 5G requires the
plored to realize multiple access technology, joint design of waveforms and multiple access
e.g. NOMA proposed by DoCoMo is based on technologies. Therefore, we introduce three
power domain multiplexing. 2) The new way new kinds of promising waveforms for 5G
to distinguish mass of users can be studied, mobile communication systems[9], we hope
such as SCMA proposed by Huawei, PDMA our work is helpful to look for a new kind of
proposed by Datang, which are both 5G prom- waveform applied into 5G.
ising multiple access techniques candidates. 3)
3.1 FBMC
The combination of different domains could
be considered to improve the utilization of Compared to OFMD technology[61,62], al-
resources, such as MC-CDMA (OFDM and though Filter-bank based Multicarrier (FBMC)

Table I Features of the four multiple access schemes

Multiple Key technologies Advantages Disadvantages
(1) no apparent near-far effect
(1) receiver is rather complex
(2) improve uplink spectral efficiency by nearly
(1) SIC detection (2) the power-domain multiplex-
NOMA 20%
(2) power domain multiplexing ing technology is on the research
(3) improve downlink throughput by more than
(1) low density spreading
(1) improve spectral efficiency 3 times or more
(2) High-dimensional modulation (1) difficult to achieve the design
(2) uplink system capacity upgrade around 2.8
technique and optimization of the code
SCMA times over OFDM
(3) near-optimal detection feasible (2) interference between users
(3) downlink cell throughput and coverage gain
through iterative message passing al- increasing
over OFDMA by 5% and 8%, respectively
gorithm (MPA)
(1) SIC detection (1) interference between users
(1) low block error rate (BLER)
(2) multi-codes of complex domain increasing
MUSA (2) supporting large numbers of users access
(3) superposition coding and superpo- (2) difficult to achieve the design
(3) improve the spectral efficiency
sition symbol expansion technology of spread symbols
(1) joint/holistic design of SIC amena- (1) improving capacity (1) difficult to achieve the design
ble pattern; above 2-3 times in uplink system and optimization of the pattern
(2) low-complexity quasi ML SIC de- (2) improving the spectral (2) interference between users
tection efficiency above 1.5 times in downlink system increasing

7 China Communications October 2015

Table II The classification of some existing multiple access techniques
According to different domains According to different domains combination mode the introduction of new technologies
TD-SCDMA[53] ; OFDMA[55]; MC-CDMA (Multi Carrier -Code Divi-
FDMA; TDMA; CDMA; SD-CDMA sion Multiple Access)[56,57]; MIMO +SDMA (Massive
NOMA; SCMA; MUSA; (Space Division-Code Division Multiple Access)[54] MIMO is used in SDMA)[58,59]
PDMA(Pattern Division Multiple Access) PDMA(Polarization Division Multiple Access)[60]

relies on dividing the spectrum into multiple

orthogonal sub-bands, it applies a filtering Input
Cyclic Prefix Channel
functionality to each sub-carrier to achieve
multi-carrier transmission (see Fig.4). Since OFDMA
the FBMC side-lobes become weaker than
OFDM, the inter-carrier interference issue Input Cyclic Prefix Channel
caused by the side-lobes becomes very small, CP

and there is no need to insert the cycle prefix

Filter Banks
or the guard interval, so that it can greatly im-
prove the efficiency of the frequency[63,64]. FBMC

Since the carriers no longer must be orthog-

onal, FBMC has the flexibility to control the Fig.4 Principle of FBMC
bandwidth of each subcarrier and the degree
of overlap between them, it could also flexibly figuration and then extended its application to
avoid the interference between adjacent sub- SM-MIMO configuration with MLD and Al-
carriers to a certain extent and facilitate the amouti coding scheme[70]. Frank Schaich, et
use of some scattered spectrum resources[65]. al. compared FBMC with OFDM in time-fre-
Since the FBMC system sub-carriers no longer quency efficiency and concluded that FBMC
need to be synchronized, the system employed outperformed OFDM by about 10% in case of
FBMC has ability to solve the problem of pos- very short packets while performing similar
sible synchronization errors and dispersion. for long sequences[71]. However, although
Therefore, synchronization, channel estima- FBMC enjoys many nice features, it also has
tion and detection can be processed separately many disadvantages. For instance, since the
on each sub-carrier[66-68]. carriers are not orthogonal each other, there
FBMC is considered as a candidate will be interferences between the subcarriers.
multi-carrier waveform for 5G mobile com- In fact, in order to meet specific requirements
munication systems which has attracted more for the frequency response characteristics,
and more researchers, and now FBMC has requirements of the prototype filter length is
been used in many fields. Sun-Young Jung, et much greater than the number of sub-channels,
al. proposed an adaptively modulated optical which causes high complexity and is not con-
filter bank multicarrier with offset quadrature ducive to hardware implementation[71,72].
amplitude modulation-based side lobes sup- Hence, although there are many literatures to
pression, and verified both the improvements solve these problems now[73,74], there is still
in signal performance and spectral efficien- a long way to achieve commercial demand.
cy compared with OFDM in a multi-send-
3.2 UFMC
er-supported optical network after a 50-km
transmission[69]. R. Zakaria developed a It is known to all that OFDM is a waveform
new FBMC scheme and transmission strategy which has been studied in depth and applied
(FFT-FBMC) in order to avoid the interfer- to 4G and WIFI[75,76]. Since Machine Type
ence problems of the MIMO scheme in the Communications (MTC) and Internet of
case of single-input single-output (SISO) con- Things (IoT) are considered as the potential

China Communications October 2015 8

application scenarios for 5G mobile commu- that UFMC outperformed OFDM by about
nication system, OFDM will no longer meets 10% in any case[71]. Now there are many
these requirements[77,78]. As discussed researches on improvement and innovation
above, though FBMC boasts many advantages of the original version[83], and the UFMC
in theory, it is very complex and troublesome techniques are successfully implemented in
to implement in practical applications. Particu- an uplink CoMP scenario[80]. The purpose
larly, FBMC requires the length of filters must of this UFMC design principle is to restrain
be much longer than the length of symbols, the spectral side-lobes, moreover to reduce
so the implementation complexity is particu- the interference between adjacent carriers.
larly high[79]. To solve this problem, a novel Furthermore, the UFMC filter length will be
waveform Universal Filtered Multi-Carrier evidently shorter than that of FBMC. Because
(UFMC) are proposed[80]. UFMC collects the the sub-band bandwidth is wider than FBMC
advantages of OFDM and FBMC, removes signal bandwidth, so the UFMC filter length
their shortcomings at the same time. UFMC is no longer needed to be as long as that of
design principle is different from both OFDM FBMC. Therefore, the UFMC implementation
and FBMC[79,81]. In OFDM, the filtering is complexity is obviously decreased. UFMC
done over the entire frequency band, and the also has an evident and important advantage
filtering of FBMC is done on each sub-carrier. that UFMC sub-carriers are non-orthogonal
However, UFMC balances filtering function of and dont need to be synchronized, so that
the two waveforms. Firstly, the entire frequen- it could meet the requirements of MTC and
cy band is divided into multiple sub-bands, IoT[84,85]. Although UFMC has many advan-
then UFMC filtering is done on every sub- tages, there exists some certain disadvantages
band comprising multiple subcarriers[82,83]. at the same time, such as UFMC is more sen-
Fig.5 describes a simplified model of UFMC sitive to the time difference so that it might not
system transmitter. be suitable for applications that require loose
In Fig.5, the entire frequency band is di- time synchronization. So there is still much
vided into m sub-bands, each sub-band has B further work to do about the improvement and
sub-carriers. enhancement of UFMC.
UFMC is considered as an important choice
3.3 GFDM
for 5G system multi-carrier scheme. Frank
Schaich, et al. compared UFMC with OFDM Under 5G demands[9], traditional OFDM sys-
in spectral efficiency and reached a conclusion tem based on FFT (Fast Fourier Transform)



QAM Baseband
S/P P/S + A/D
to RF


B sub- carriers

Fig.5 Simplified model of UFMC system transmitter

9 China Communications October 2015

has encountered several challenges. E.g., it prove performance of the system efficiently
is sensitive to Doppler shift which is caused only by a simple interference cancellation
by high-speed moving mobile stations[86], it technique (e.g. serial inter-carrier interference
introduces cyclic prefix to inhibit the effects cancellation scheme), there are still lots of
of multipath fading channel propagation[87], further researches needed. Besides, reducing
which reduces system spectrum efficiency, and complexity of the receiver is significant as
it has a considerably high PAPR (Peak-to-Av- well in improving performance of the system,
erage Power Ratio) caused by a linear super- it needs further achievements on coding re-
position of a plurality of subcarriers modulated search.
signal[88]. To cope with the challenges above,
3.4 Summary
Vodafone Chair Mobile Communications
Systems proposed Generalized Frequency In this section, three new waveforms FBMC,
Division Multiplexing (GFDM) system which UFMC and GFDM are introduced and ana-
replaces the linear filtering with a circular one lyzed. As is shown in Table III below, they all
for pulse shaping[89]. have their strengths and weaknesses respec-
GFDM boasts some attractive features[90] tively. For instance, they have all reduced side-
such as providing an effective alternative for lobes through the filtering functionality com-
spectrum white spaces aggregation in the TV pared with OFDM, there is no need to insert
UHF (ultra-high frequency) bands which are the cycle prefix or the guard interval, which
located in close proximity to allocated spec- greatly improves frequency efficiency for
trum, a lower PARP compared to OFDM, a ul- them. Besides, their carriers no longer have to
tra-low out-of-band radiation due to adjustable be orthogonal now, so it can flexibly avoid the
Tx-filtering and efficient FFT-based equal- interference between adjacent subcarriers to
ization, etc. In particular low PARP allows to a certain extent and facilitate the use of some
reduce the hardware cost and power consump- scattered spectrum resources. However, they
tion, which is an important point of sale for also have some drawbacks respectively. For
future wireless communication systems. M. FBMC, because of narrow bandwidth of the
Danneberg, et al. described in detail the exper- subcarriers, the requirements of the prototype
iment with the sensor and proved that GFDM filter length is much greater than that of the
is spectrally efficient compared to OFDM[91]. symbols, consequently it is more difficult to
An innovative PHY design schemes for a flex- achieve. Compared with FBMC, the length of
ible digital radio with equalization schemes the UFMC transmit filter is relatively shorter,
implemented with better BER performance but UFMC is more sensitive to the time differ-
was presented in the paper[92]. N. Michailow, ence so that UFMC might not be suitable for
et al. showed that pulse shaped subcarriers applications that require loose time synchro-
could be achieved in GFDM at reasonable nization. For GFDM, although it effectively
computational cost which is approximately achieves the utilization of some scattered
in the same order of magnitude as traditional spectrum resources and dynamic spectrum
OFDM[93]. Combined with MIMO, N. Mi- management, the subcarrier filtering can result
chailow addressed MIMO-GFDM as a mean in non-orthogonal subcarriers, inter-symbol
to obtain diversity in the system and presented interference (ISI) and inter-carrier interference
a proof-of-concept implementation[94]. Ad- (ICI).
ditionally, compared to conventional OFDM, Waveform design is from orthogonal wave-
GFDM is more suitable for cognitive radio forms to non-orthogonal waveforms which
PHY because of better spectral shaping and will be more suitable for 5G demands. With
sensing characteristics[95]. the in depth study, these new waveform mod-
Though GFDM enjoys many advantages, ulation technologies will be able to replace
when comes to interferences, it might not im- the existing OFDM well if they could reduce

China Communications October 2015 10

Table III The summary and comparison of three new waveforms
Key technologies Advantages Disadvantages
(1) the flexible control of the degree of overlap between each
(1) large interference between
sub- carrier
FBMC multi-carrier filtering (2) time-frequency efficiency improvement by about 10% in
(2) the long filter length, high
case of very short packets
(3) low synchronization requirement
(1) the short filter length, Low complexity
(2) time-frequency efficiency improvement by about 10% in (1) higher synchronization re-
UFMC block-wise filtering
any case quirement than CP-OFDM
(3) small interference between sub-carriers
(1) lower PARP
Tx-filtering FFT-based
GFDM (2) use of scattered spectrum resources (1) receiver is rather complex
(3) ultra-low out-of-band radiation

inter-carrier interference and the complexity quality of this paper. This work was support-
of receivers. ed in part by National Natural Science Funds
for Creative Research Groups of China under
IV. CONCLUSIONS Grant No. 61421061; Huawei Innovation
Research Program; Open Research Fund in
According to the 3GPP timeline, 5G will begin Xian Jiaotong University under Grant No. sk-
the work of Evaluation Criteria in 2016[96], lms2015015.
whose goal will be to identify key technolo-
gy indicators to meet 1000 times the future References
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China Communications October 2015 14

tics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), Network and Switching Technology, Beijing University
2014 IEEE International Conference on. 2014, of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT). His current
IEEE: Florence. p. 8097-8101. research interests include the next generation wire-
[90] Fettweis, G., M. Krondorf and S. Bittner. GFDM - less networks, multiple access technology, non-or-
Generalized Frequency Division Multiplexing[C]. thogonal transmission of wireless communications
Vehicular Technology Conference, 2009. VTC and cyber physical system. Email: yunzhengtao@
Spring 2009. IEEE 69th. 2009, IEEE: Barcelona. p.
[91] Danneberg, M., et al. Experimental Testbed for Liu Long, received his B.S. degrees from Xian Uni-
Dynamic Spectrum Access and Sensing of 5G versity of Posts and Telecommunications (XUPT) in
GFDM Waveforms[C]. Vehicular Technology 2014. Since 2014, he has been pursuing Masters
Conference, 2014. IEEE 80th. 2014, IEEE: Van- degree with the State Key Laboratory of Network and
couver. p. 1-5. Switching Technology at BUPT. His research interests
[92] Datta, R., et al. FBMC and GFDM Interference include cognitive radio networks, the next generation
Cancellation Schemes for Flexible Digital Radio wireless networks, full-duplex networks and multiple
PHY Design[C]. Digital System Design (DSD), access technology. Email:
2011 14th Euromicro Conference on. 2011, IEEE:
Oulu. p. 335-339. Liu Shang, received his B.S. degrees from Beijing
[93] Michailow, N., et al. Generalized frequency di- University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT)
vision multiplexing: Analysis of an alternative in 2011. Since 2011, he has been pursuing Ph.D. de-
multi-carrier technique for next generation cel- gree with the State Key Laboratory of Network and
lular systems[C]. Wireless Communication Sys- Switching Technology at BUPT. His research interests
tems (ISWCS), 2012 International Symposium include cognitive radio, the next generation wireless
on. 2012, IEEE: Paris. p. 171-175. networks, the optimization and performance analysis
[94] Michailow, N., et al. Generalized Frequency Di- of wireless network and spectrum monitoring net-
vision Multiplexing for 5th Generation Cellular work deployment. Email:
Networks[J]. Communications, IEEE Transactions
on, 2014. 62(9): p. 3045-3061. Zhang Zhi, received the Ph.D. degrees in Beijing
[95] Datta, R., et al. Generalized Frequency Division University of Posts and Telecommunications in 2004.
Multiplexing in cognitive radio[C]. Signal Pro- He now is an expert of the national Ministry of In-
cessing Conference (EUSIPCO), 2012 Proceed- dustry and Information Technology TD-LTE working
ings of the 20th European. 2012, IEEE: Bucha- group. He hosted and participated in a number of
rest. p. 2679-2683. 863 projects, the Natural Science Foundation of
[96] S. Patel , M. Chauhan and K. Kapadiya. 5G: A country/Beijing, and a number of international and
Technology Vision[J]. International Journal of domestic horizontal cooperation projects. His major
Computer Applications, 2012, 54(17). research interests include physical layer technology,
wireless (RF) measurement technique, radio resource
Biographies management and QoS, mobility management, etc.
Tao Yunzheng, * the corresponding author, Ph.D. Email:
degree candidate with the State Key Laboratory of

15 China Communications October 2015