Unified Capacity Limit of Non-Coherent Wideband Fading Channels

Felipe Gomez-Cuba, Jinfeng Du, Muriel Medard, Elza Erkip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In non-coherent wideband fading channels, where energy rather than spectrum is the limiting resource, peaky and non-peaky signaling schemes have long been considered species apart, as the first approaches asymptotically the capacity of a wideband AWGN channel with the same average SNR, whereas the second reaches a peak rate at some finite critical bandwidth and then falls to zero as bandwidth grows to infinity. In this paper, it is shown that this distinction is in fact an artifact of the limited attention paid in the past to the product between the bandwidth and the fraction of time it is in use. This fundamental quantity, called bandwidth occupancy, measures average bandwidth usage over time. For all signaling schemes with the same bandwidth occupancy, achievable rates approach to the wideband AWGN capacity within the same gap as the bandwidth occupancy approaches its critical value, and decrease to zero as the occupancy goes to infinity. This unified analysis produces quantitative closed-form expressions for the ideal bandwidth occupancy, recovers the existing capacity results for (non-) peaky signaling schemes, and unveils a tradeoff between the accuracy of approximating capacity with a generalized Taylor polynomial and the accuracy with which the optimal bandwidth occupancy can be bounded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7592476
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017


  • Bandwidth occupancy
  • Non-peaky signals
  • Peaky signals
  • Wideband regime

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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