Is network MIMO the way to go?

This is an excerpt of a panel discussion in IEEE VTC 2011 Spring, entitled “Wireless Futures…”

The beauty of renowned conference such as VTC is that it provides a good opportunity to listen to experts’ views on the future research directions. I found plenary and panel sessions in this VTC very interesting although the quality of individual paper presentation was disappointing (recall the posting by Evanny with which I couldn’t agree more).

Four distinguished speakers presented their views on future of wireless systems: Reinaldo Valenzuela, Rahim Tafazolli, Fumiyuki Adachi, and Jorge Pereira. Except Jorge Pereira who focused on wireless sensor network, their opinions about future wireless broadband systems were more or less same, to my surprise. In short, their view on the future is multi-cell cooperation (network MIMO) + small cells. (Adachi named this distributed antenna network (DAN) and personal cell)

Will it be the case? Will network MIMO with small cells be our future? Maybe, but I’m not sure. I acknowledge that multi-cell cooperation has a great potential to increase network performance. But! it reguires super good backhaul capability. On top of that, network complexity will be beyond comparison with distributed system architecture.

My fundamental question is this: if backhaul is good enough to support network MIMO, can’t we just come up with an alternative idea to exploit the backhaul capability?

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