MIMO for millimeter-wave wireless communications: Beamforming, spatial multiplexing, or both?

Shu Sun, Theodore S. Rappaport, Robert W. Heath, Andrew Nix, Sundeep Rangan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of mm Wave frequencies for wireless communications offers channel bandwidths far greater than previously available, while enabling dozens or even hundreds of antenna elements to be used at the user equipment, base stations, and access points. To date, MIMO techniques, such as spatial multiplexing, beamforming, and diversity, have been widely deployed in lower-frequency systems such as IEEE 802.11n/ac (wireless local area networks) and 3GPP LTE 4G cellphone standards. Given the tiny wavelengths associated with mm Wave, coupled with differences in the propagation and antennas used, it is unclear how well spatial multiplexing with multiple streams will be suited to future mm Wave mobile communications. This tutorial explores the fundamental issues involved in selecting the best communications approaches for mm Wave frequencies, and provides insights, challenges, and appropriate uses of each MIMO technique based on early knowledge of the mm Wave propagation environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6979962
Pages (from-to)110-121
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Antenna measurements
  • Array signal processing
  • MIMO
  • Millimeter wave technology
  • Radio frequency
  • Receivers
  • Wireless communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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