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C.-H. Lim and D. S.

Han: Robust LS Channel Estimation with Phase Rotation for Single Frequency Network in OFDM 1173

Robust LS Channel Estimation with Phase Rotation

for Single Frequency Network in OFDM
Chae-Hyun Lim and Dong Seog Han, Member, IEEE

Abstract — A Channel estimation technique has been the delay spread does not exceed the CP length. In practical
proposed with the least square (LS) based on comb-type pilots systems such as digital broadcasting systems, a single
for orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM). An frequency network (SFN) is a challengeable channel condition
interpolator should be used to obtain the channel information for equalization. In SFN channels, there are several long delay
between adjacent pilots for a comb-type pattern. However, an paths with similar powers. The performance of the equalizer
interpolation method causes additional errors due to the will be rapidly degraded due to the severe frequency selective
interpolation properties of not detecting long delayed paths fading in SFN channels even the delay spread is less than the
and generating fictitious paths. OFDM has its strength in CP length.
realistic possibility of constructing the single frequency In general, comb-type pilots are more robust for fast fading
network (SFN). However, synchronization and channel over block-type pilots [2]. Even though block-type pilots have
estimation errors are revealed by multi-path fading with long a wider tracking range, they cannot estimate the channel delay
delayed paths in SFN channels. We propose a robust channel profile during data transmission. To obtain channel
estimator overcoming the adverse effects of long delayed information, most OFDM systems adopt interpolation
signals in SFNs. A new channel estimator is proposed with the techniques in conjunction with the comb-type pilots. Among
interpolated LS by applying phase shifted samples in the various interpolation techniques, linear interpolation is general
frequency-domain. In particular, the proposed channel because of acceptable computational complexity [3].
estimator is more robust to the single frequency network Kim et al. [4] analyzed the performance of the linear
(SFN) whenever the delay spread is less than the cyclic prefix interpolation mathematically for OFDM systems. However,
length. For a Rayleigh channel, the proposed estimator has an they did not analyze the effect of interpolation in long delay
almost 3 dB gain comparing to conventional estimator. 1 spread as in SFN channels. Heieh and Wei [3] proposed a
phase compensated interpolation method for channel
Index Terms — Least square, channel estimation, OFDM, estimation with imperfect frame synchronization. It shows
interpolation, frame synchronization. reasonable performance in short delay spread channels. On the
other hand, the performance of channel estimation is rapidly
I. INTRODUCTION degraded for long delay spread channels usually happened in
Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) is SFN channels because of the effect from the interpolation
well known as one of the most effective transmission error. Mostofi et al. [5] studied the effect of frame
schemes. It has robustness to multi-path fading and capability synchronization errors in channel estimation and the proposed
to control the data rate according to the transmission channel channel estimation method with a small fast Fourier transform
[1]. Currently, various wireless and wired systems have (FFT) block size. It contributes for reducing the computational
adopted OFDM as their physical layer. Among these, there are complexity. However, it introduces energy leakage and
digital video broadcasting (DVB), digital audio broadcasting performance degradation in channel estimation.
(DAB), IEEE 802.11a and asymmetric digital subscribe line The goal of this paper is to solve the problem of incorrect
(ADSL). channel estimation due to the frame misalignment and the
Although OFDM can easily mitigate multi-path effects due interpolation done in the frequency domain. A long delayed
to a cyclic prefix (CP), densely spaced pilot tones are required path in SFN channels causes the frame synchronization error
to estimate the channel characteristics for fading channels which can be also treated as the sampling timing offset. The
with a small coherence bandwidth. In most OFDM frame synchronization error leads to the time shift of the
applications, they use comb-type pilot patterns to estimate and channel impulse response. To estimate the channel response
track channel responses. By the way, the number of pilot tones with the pilot tones, an interpolation filter should be applied in
cannot be increased due to the required data rate. Because of the frequency domain. When the channel impulse response is
the restricted number of pilots, there may be an estimation estimated with the least square (LS) including interpolation,
error at the bands where the pilots are not sent even though the estimated impulse response is the repeated real impulse
response in the time-domain. The repetition rate is
proportional to the interpolation rate in the frequency-domain.
Therefore, a higher interpolation rate leads to more frequent
1 This work was supported by the Brain Korea 21 project.. repetition of the channel impulse response within a narrower
Chae-Hyun Lim and Dong Seog Han are with the School of Electrical delay spread region. As a result, if the channel delay spread is
Engineering and Computer Science, Kyungpook National University, Daegu long, the interpolation filter cannot detect long delayed paths.
702-701, Korea (e-mail: {chlim, dshan} We apply the LS after intentionally rotating the phase
Contributed Paper
Manuscript received September 9, 2006 0098 3063/06/$20.00 © 2006 IEEE
1174 IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Vol. 52, No. 4, NOVEMBER 2006

Fig. 1. Baseband OFDM transmission system block diagram.

information of the received sample in the frequency-domain to where ⊗ denotes the convolution and w ( n ) is AWGN. The
overcome these two weak points of the conventional LS transfer function of the channel, h ( n ) , is expressed as
channel estimation usually appeared in SFN channels.
The system model is described in section II. Then the
L −1
effects of interpolation and imperfect frame synchronization h ( n ) = ∑ hiδ ( n − τ i ) (4)
are analyzed in section III. In section IV, a new channel i =0

estimation algorithm is proposed adopting a phase rotator in

conjunction with LS estimator. The performance of the where L is the number of paths, h i denotes a complex gain
proposed algorithm is evaluated in section V. Some
of the i th path, and τ i is the delay time for the i th path. In
concluding remarks are shown in section VI.
this paper, τ i is assumed not to exceed the CP length. Signals
to be put into the FFT process is described as
A baseband model for an OFDM system is shown in Fig. (
y ( n ) = yr n + N g , ) n = 0,1,..., Nt − 1 . (5)
1. Among Nt OFDM subcarriers, N d subcarriers are used
for data transmission while Nt − N d subcarriers are allocated The FFT processing performs to reconstruct the transmitted
for the guard band. P pilot subcarriers are evenly located in information in the frequency-domain as
the whole bandwidth for each symbol. The distance between
two adjacent pilot subcarriers, D, is N d / P. The data N t −1
Y (k ) = ∑ y ( n ) e− j 2π kn / N ,
k = 0,1,..., N t − 1
allocated at the k th subcarrier, X (k ) , is represented with a n=0 (6)
binary phase shift keying (BPSK) constellation. The time- = X (k ) H (k ) + W (k )
domain sequence of length Nt , can be expressed by applying
an inverse fast Fourier transform (IFFT) such as
where H ( k ) and W ( k ) are the channel response and AWGN
N t −1 in the frequency-domain, respectively.
∑ X (k )e (
j 2π kn / N )
x (n) = , n = 0,1, 2,..., N t − 1 (1)
k =0

where n represents the sample index. III. ANALYSIS OF LS ESTIMATION IN LONG DELAYED
After the IFFT, the CP whose length is longer than the
maximum delay spread is added to avoid inter-symbol
interference (ISI) at every symbol. As a result, the following In this section, the negative effects to the estimation of the
transmitted signal including the CP can be expressed as channel impulse response are considered because of the
interpolation in the frequency-domain and the imperfect frame
⎧⎪ x ( N t + n ) , n = − N g , − N g + 1,..., −1 synchronization.
xt ( n ) = ⎨ (2) After the FFT, pilots are extracted from the received
⎪⎩ x ( n ) , n = 0,1,..., N t − 1
OFDM symbols. With the received pilot signals, Y ( pD ) , and
where N g is the CP length. Signals described in (2) can be the expected pilot signals, X ( pD ) , at the same subcarriers,
received at the receiver after passing through the channel, the estimated channel responses at pilot subcarriers based on
and then additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) is added. the LS are expressed as [4]
So, the received signal can be expressed as
Y ( pD )
yr ( n ) = xt ( n ) ⊗ h ( n ) + w ( n ) (3) Hˆ ( pD ) = , p = 0,1,..., P − 1 (7)
X ( pD )
C.-H. Lim and D. S. Han: Robust LS Channel Estimation with Phase Rotation for Single Frequency Network in OFDM 1175

reconstructed as shown in Fig. 2. The interpolation filter

looks like a kind of window functions in the time-domain
because the convolution in the frequency-domain is
represented as the multiplication in the time-domain.
To show this windowing property of the interpolator, we
pD ( p + 1) D consider an SFN channel with three paths having same power
D level. To observe only the interpolation effect, we do not
consider AWGN. The first path, the second and the third
Fig. 2. Linear interpolation in comb-type OFDM.
paths are delayed by 0, 200 and 450 samples, respectively. A
2048-point FFT is considered and D is set at 3. The CP
To get channel responses at payload data subcarriers, the length is set at 512, which is longer than the longest delayed
OFDM system with comb-type pilots needs interpolation path. The frame synchronization is assumed to be exactly
between two adjacent pilot subcarriers in the frequency- matched to the first path. It means that there is no ISI and no
domain as [4] phase rotation due to the imperfect frame synchronization.
Therefore, we may consider the OFDM system perfectly
Hˆ ( pD + l ) =
D −l ˆ
H ( pD ) +
lHˆ {( p + 1) D} , 1 ≤ l ≤ D − 1. (8) recover the transmitted information. However, because of the
D D interpolation effect with comb-type pilot patterns, we cannot
recover the channel response perfectly. It can be explained
with Fig. 3.
By using (7) and (8), the estimated channel is generally
When (7) is applied for the estimation of the channel
response in the frequency-domain, we get

1.4 ⎣ ( ⎦)
⎡ Hˆ ( 0 ) ,0,0, Hˆ ( D ) ,0,L, Hˆ D ( P − 1) ⎤ , where 2 ( = D − 1) zeros

are inserted between adjacent pilot subcarriers. The time-

1.2 domain response of this vector is shown in Fig. 3(a) where
the impulse response is repeated three times as
1 Region 1 Region 2 Region 3
D −1 L −1
h ( n ) = ∑∑ hiδ ( n − τ i − l ⋅ N t D ), 0 ≤ n ≤ Nt − 1 (9)
l =0 i =0

0.4 The real impulse response only exists in region 1. Regions 2

and 3 are the repeated responses of the response in region 1.
It is because of the zeros between pilot subcarriers.
0 When the zeros are replaced by interpolated values with
0 200 400 600 800 100012001400160018002000
Delay [Number of samples] (8) such as ⎡⎣ Hˆ ( 0 ) , Hˆ (1) , Hˆ ( 2 ) ,L, Hˆ ( D ( P − 1) )⎤⎦ , the time-
domain impulse response results in a weighted impulse
response of (9) as shown in Fig. 3(b). The weight depends on
the transfer function of the interpolator in the frequency-
domain. The weight function causes two types of distortions.
One is the reduced gain as the delay increases. Long delay

Frame Sync. Point

T T Next Symbol

Fig. 3. Channel impulse response: (a) before the interpolation, (b) after
the interpolation.
Fig. 4. ISI caused by a frame synchronization error.
1176 IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Vol. 52, No. 4, NOVEMBER 2006

paths are severely attenuated by the interpolator. In h0

addition, the impulse response of the interpolator is h1
symmetric with respect to the half of the FFT size in the
time-domain. Therefore, additional fictitious delays
around the end of the impulse response are added
because of this symmetric property. Therefore, the
repetition of the impulse response and the interpolation
effect make difficult to reject the impulse response in (a)
region 3 as in Fig. 3(b). So to get the actual channel h0
impulse response, the whole subcarriers should be used h1
for the transmission of pilot tones. However, it is not a
realistic solution because of reduced data rate or already
specified standards such as DVB-T and DVB-H. The
only way is to reconstruct the channel response from Fig.
3(b) without increasing the number of pilot subcarriers.
Another crucial point for affecting the estimation of (b)
Fig. 5. Channel impulse response: (a) original channel impulse
the channel impulse response is the frame response, (b) channel impulse response with frame synchronization
synchronization. If the frame synchronization is not error.
perfect, there may be some distortion in the received
signal. According to [5] and [7], there are two kinds of
features in the FFT output due to the imperfect frame IV. LS CHANNEL ESTIMATION WITH CHANNEL PHASE
synchronization. One is the distortion caused by the ISI ROTATOR
from the next symbol as shown in Fig. 4. Even though
the channel is perfectly estimated, the ISI caused by the A new channel estimation algorithm is proposed as shown
frame offset degrades the performance of the receiver. in Fig. 6. Exact frame synchronization is assumed in the
To avoid the ISI, exact frame synchronization should be receiver. With locally generated pilot signals, the channel can
acquired. Through the synchronization algorithms in [6] be estimated as (7). Then, the phase of the estimated channel
and [8], the accurate start position of a symbol frame can is intentionally rotated as follows:
be obtained. A time-domain equalizer is proposed to
mitigate the ISI in [9]. However, a time-domain equalizer Hˆ ′ ( pD ) = Hˆ ( pD ) e− j 2π pDβ / Nt , p = 0,1,..., P − 1 (12)
increases computational complexity. The other distortion
caused by the frame error is the phase rotation of the where the amount of phase rotation, β , is determined as the
demodulated signal in the frequency-domain as half of the delay spread by

τ 0 + τ L −1
N t −1 β= . (13)
Y (k ) = ∑ y ( n) e j 2π kn / Nt
e j 2π k Δ / N t
, k = 0,1,..., N t − 1 (10) 2
β can be easily obtained through the correlation property
[6]. By doing so, the channel impulse response can be located
where Δ is the frame offset. in the regions with large weights in the time-domain response
The phase rotation in the frequency-domain is equivalent of the interpolator when the amount of phase rotation is a
to the time shift in the time-domain. Accordingly, if a half of delay spread. The channel impulse response of (11) is
receiver has the frame synchronization error, the the time shifted version of (7) as shown in Fig. 5 (b). The
estimated channel impulse response is shown as the time rotated channel in (11) is interpolated by using (8). That is to
shifted form of the original by Δ samples as say, the rotated channel impulse response shown in Fig. 5(b)
is passed through the interpolator in Fig. 3(b). From these
L −1 figures, the proposed phase rotator can avoid the distortion
h (n) = ∑ hiδ ( λ − τ i + Δ ) . (11) caused by the interpolation filter. Accordingly, the
i =0

Hˆ final (k )
The effect of the frame synchronization error is shown y (n)
LS Phase Phase
FFT Interpolator
in Fig. 5. As in (10), the original channel impulse estimation rotator re-rotator

response in Fig. 5(a) is shifted due to the frame

synchronization error as shown in Fig. 5(b).
Fig. 6. Proposed channel estimation algorithm.
C.-H. Lim and D. S. Han: Robust LS Channel Estimation with Phase Rotation for Single Frequency Network in OFDM 1177

interpolated channel response can be expressed as follow 0

LS without sampling offset
LS with sampling offset
Hˆ ′ ( k ) = Hˆ ( k ) e− j 2π k β / Nt , k = 0,1,..., Lt − 1 . (14) LS with proposed method

After the interpolation, the estimated channel should be re-
rotated as

Hˆ final ( k ) = Hˆ ′ ( k ) e j 2π k β / Nt ,

k = 0,1,..., Lt − 1 . (15) 10

In addition, the proposed interpolator successfully rejects -3

the repeated impulse responses in regions 2 and 3.
Accordingly, the estimated channel is more accurate than the
response obtained with the conventional LS estimator. -4
Especially, the proposed channel estimator is much robust in 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
Path delay [samples]
the SFN environments having long delayed paths.
Fig. 7. BER performance according to delay time.
LS without sampling offset
The considered OFDM system parameters are listed in LS with sampling offset
Table I. In this paper, the proposed and conventional LS LS with proposed method

estimators are compared in the DVB-T system with a linear

interpolation. The frequency synchronization is assumed to
be perfectly acquired. There are two kinds of channel models
for the performance evaluation. One is the SFN that has a

main and an additional delayed path having the same power

to that of the main path with a delay varying from 50 to 500
samples, which is a test environment for Nordig requirements
[10]. According to the delay time, the system performance is 10

compared with the conventional LS estimator. The second

channel model is Brazilian test channel D [11] that is a
popular channel model for the performance evaluation of 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
digital television receivers. The maximum delay spread is Path delay [samples]

small over the CP length in this channel. However, this

channel denotes a Rayleigh channel model. For the Fig. 8. BER performance according to delay time at SNR=10 dB.
performance comparison, we also evaluated the receiver
position of the symbol is correctly acquired. On the other
performance in perfect and imperfect frame synchronization.
hand, the LS with sampling offset means the frame starting
poison is incorrect. The diamond denotes the conventional
SYSTEM PARAMETERS. algorithm with a sampling offset. In case of the LS with
Parameters Specifications sampling offset, the ISI is revealed due to the mismatch of
FFT points 2,048 the symbol timing. The square in Fig. 7 denotes the proposed
Active carriers 1,705 method. For any delay spread falls in the CP, the proposed
Pilot ratio 3
method shows the best performance regardless of delay time.
Guard interval 512
For short delay spread, the LS with sampling offset shows
Guard type Cyclic extension
the worst performance because of ISI. However, the LS
without sampling offset has the worst performance for long
Bandwidth 6 MHz
delay spread. The reason is that the channel estimation
Constellation QPSK
distortion of the LS without sampling offset by the
Channel model SFN, Brazil D (Rayleigh channel)
interpolator filter is dominant for long delay spread
conditions. Fig. 8 shows the BER performance when a
Fig. 7 shows the bit error rate (BER) performance of the
signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is equal to 10 dB. The
two algorithms in a noise free condition. The circle denotes
performance of the proposed method is best in all path delay
the performance of the conventional LS without sampling
time. As the delay time goes to larger, performance
offset. Without sampling offset means that the starting
1178 IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Vol. 52, No. 4, NOVEMBER 2006

enhancement goes to large because the proposed method is [4] J. Kim, J. Park, and D. Hong, “Performance analysis of channel
estimation in OFDM systems,” IEEE Signal Processing Letters, vol. 12,
not affected by ISI and interpolation. Between two conventional no. 1, pp. 60-62. Jan. 2005.
methods, LS with sampling offset has better performance [5] Y. Mostofi, D. Cox, and A. Bahai, “Effect of frame synchronization
because the distortion by ISI is dominant. However, the errors on pilot-aided channel estimation in OFDM: analysis and
solution,” 5th WPMC, pp. 1309-1313, Aug. 1998.
distortion by the interpolator is dominant for long delay spread, [6] J. J. V. D. Beek,. M. Sandell,.and P.O. Borjesson, ” ML estimation of
so the difference is becoming larger as the delay longer. time and frequency offset in OFDM systems,” IEEE Trans. Signal
Fig. 9 shows the BER performance in the Brazilian D Processing, vol. 45, no. 7, pp. 1800-1805, Jul. 1997.
[7] J. J. Kim and D. S. Han, “Adaptive frame selection algorithm for DVB-
channel in terms of SNRs. The maximum delay spread of the T,’’ IEEE Trans. on Consumer Electronics, vol. 48, pp. 617-623, Aug.
Brazilian D channel is relatively short compared with the CP 2002.
length. Therefore, the performance difference is not revealed. [8] D. Landstrom, and S. K. Wilson, J. van de Beek, P. Odling , and O.
Borjesson, “Symbol time offset estimation in coherent OFDM systems,”
However, in case of the LS with sampling offset, the difference IEEE Trans. Commun., vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 545-549, April, 2002.
is becoming larger as increasing the SNR. This is due to the ISI [9] H. Jafarian, H. Khoshbin, and S. Pasupathy, “Time-domain equalizer for
caused by the sampling offset. OFDM systems based on SINR maximization,” IEEE Trans. Commun.,
vol. 53, no. 6, pp. 924-929, June, 2005.
[10] The NorDig group, Nordig-unified ver 1.0.1, Jan. 2003.
without sampling offset
10 with sampling offset
[11] ABERT/SET, VSB/COFDM Comparison Report, May 2000.M. Young,
with proposed method The Technical Writer’s Handbook. Mill Valley, CA: University Science,

Chae-Hyun Lim was born in Daegu, Korea on January


23, 1975. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from

10 Kyungpook National university, Deagu, Korea in 2000
and 2002, respectively. He is currently working towards
the Ph.D. degree at Kyungpook National University,
Daegu, Korea. His main research interests are smart
antenna, digital communications, and digital television
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25
SNR [dB]

Dong Seog Han received his B.S. degree in electronic engineering from
Fig. 9. BER performance according to SNR in Brazil D channel. Kyungpook National University (KNU), Daegu, Korea, in
1998, his M.S and Ph.D degrees in electrical engineering
form the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and
VI. CONCLUSION Technology (KAIST), Daejon, Korea, 1n 1989 and 1993,
The effects of the interpolation filter and frame error in LS respectively. From October 1987 to August 1996, he was
with Samsung Electronics, Co. Ltd., where he developed
channel estimator have been studied. To remove these negative the transmission systems for QAM HDTV and Grand
effects, a new channel estimation method was proposed. The Alliance HDTV receivers. Since September 1996, he has
proposed method is very robust to any delay spread confined in been with the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Kyungpook
National University. Currently he is an Associate Professor in the school of
the CP length. In addition, the increase in computational Electronic and Electrical Engineering, KNU. He worked as a courtesy
complexity is ignorable in the proposed method. Associate Professor in the electrical and computer engineering, University of
Florida in 2004. His main research interests are digital communications and
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