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Pilot contamination is not a fundamental asymptotic limitation in massive MIMO

Abstract : Massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) provides great improvements in spectral efficiency over legacy cellular networks, by coherent combining of the signals over a large antenna array and by spatial multiplexing of many users. Since its inception, the coherent interference caused by pilot contamination has been believed to be an impairment that does not vanish, even with an unlimited number of antennas. In this work, we show that this belief is incorrect and an artifact from using simplistic channel models and suboptimal signal processing schemes. We focus on the uplink and prove that with multicell MMSE combining, the spectral efficiency grows without bound as the number of antennas increases, even under pilot contamination, under a condition of linear independence between the channel covariance matrices. This condition is generally satisfied, except in special cases that are hardly found in practice.
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Emil Björnson, Jakob Hoydis, Luca Sanguinetti. Pilot contamination is not a fundamental asymptotic limitation in massive MIMO. IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC 2017), May 2017, Paris, France. ⟨10.1109/ICC.2017.7996674⟩. ⟨hal-01784905⟩

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