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Abstract

The concept of using parallel data transmission by means of frequency division multiplexing (FDM) was published in mid 60s. Some early development can be traced back in the 50s. A U.S. patent was filled and issued in January, 1970.

Description of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing


The idea was to use parallel data streams and FDM with overlapping sub channels to avoid the use of high speed equalization and to combat impulsive noise, and multipath distortion as well as to fully use the available bandwidth. The initial applications were in the military communications. In the telecommunications field, the terms of discrete multi tone (DMT), multichannel modulation and multicarrier modulation (MCM) are widely used and sometimes they are interchangeable with OFDM.

In OFDM, each carrier is orthogonal to all other carriers. However, this condition is not always maintained in MCM. OFDM is an optimal version of multicarrier transmission schemes. For a large number of sub channels, the arrays of sinusoidal generators and coherent demodulators required in a parallel system become unreasonably expensive and complex. The receiver needs precise phasing of the demodulating carriers and sampling times in order to keep crosstalk between sub channels acceptable. Weinstein and Ebert applied the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) to parallel data transmission system as part of the modulation and demodulation process.

In addition to eliminating the banks of subcarrier oscillators and coherent demodulators required by FDM, a completely digital implementation could be built around special purpose hardware performing the fast Fourier transform (FFT). Recent advances in VLSI technology enable making of high speed chips that can perform large size FFT at affordable price.