Massive MIMO and Small Cells: How to Densify Heterogeneous Networks

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


ICC, Budapest, Hungary (2013)


We propose a time division duplex (TDD) based network architecture where a macrocell tier with a “massive” multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) base station (BS) is overlaid with a dense tier of small cells (SCs). In this context, the TDD protocol and the resulting channel reciprocity have two compelling advantages. First, a large number of BS antennas can be deployed without incurring a prohibitive overhead for channel training. Second, the BS can estimate the interference covariance matrix from the SC tier which can be leveraged for downlink precoding. In particular, the BS designs its precoding vectors to transmit independent data streams to its users while being orthogonal to the subspace spanned by the strongest interference directions; thereby minimizing the sum interference imposed on the SCs. In other words, the BS “sacrifices” some of its antennas for interference cancellation while the TDD protocol allows for an implicit coordination across the tiers. Simulation results suggest that, given a sufficiently large number of BS antennas, the proposed scheme can significantly improve the sum-rate of the SC tier at the price of a small macro performance loss.