News Release

Timing, among other factors, improves aging in next-generation wireless communications

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Tsinghua University Press

An RIS-assisted communication system with K mobile users.

image: A multi-user MISO communication system is considered, where a BS equipped with Nt antennas serves K (K < Nt) single-antenna users. The communication is assisted by an RIS comprising of M nearly-passive reflecting elements and one RIS micro-controller. We assume that the BS and the RIS keep static and the users are moving with the same velocity. view more 

Credit: Intelligent and Converged Networks

In wireless communications, channels can not only change, but they can also age. For contemporary systems, these connections between the transmitter and the receiver break down over time, user movement and power dissipation. Understanding how channels age in future systems, as well as how to mitigate such issues, are key to developing the next generation of wireless communications, according to an international collaboration studying the topic in reconfigurable intelligent surface (RIS)-assisted systems.


They published an analysis of how RIS-assisted communication systems perform under channel aging on April 29 in Intelligent and Converged Networks at DOI:


RISs are arrays comprising individually programmable and controlled circuits that can dynamically reflect signals and may be the linchpin platform to achieve 6G wireless communications, according to first author Yan Zhang, School of Electronic and Information Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University.


“Investigating the performance of RIS-assisted communication systems under the condition of channel aging can verify whether deploying an RIS in a wireless communication system can reduce the adverse impact of channel aging on system performance and how much performance gain it can bring,” Zhang said. “This is helpful to provide a theoretical basis for the system optimization design of RIS-assisted communication systems.”


All three components of the communication system can move: the RIS may be a satellite, the base station moves as the Earth rotates and the users are unpredictably mobile. Add in modifications to the communication environment, such as physical barriers or weather interference, and the channels of communication will continuously change over time.


“These factors lead to the so-called channel aging phenomenon where the channels vary across time with correlated channel variables in a transmission,” Zhang said. “Channel aging results in a mismatch between the current and estimated channels that degrades the system performance. But, to the best of our knowledge, there is a lack of studies on the impact of channel aging on RIS-assisted communications systems. Since RIS will help evolve wireless communication, it is of great importance to analyze how RISs can improve the channel quality with user mobility.”


The researchers examined how deploying an RIS in a wireless communication system affects the adverse impact of channel aging on system performance. They modeled a system in which a base station simultaneously sends signals to an RIS and to individual cell phone users. The RIS reflects the signal to the same users, duplicating and strengthening the signal. In this model, the RIS and base station are stationary while the users are moving in a single direction at the same velocity, such as on a highway.


The system mathematically estimates the best channel to send a signal, depending on location, movement, potential barriers and several other factors. The channel varies from the time it is estimated to when it is used to send or detect the signal — this is the aging phenomenon.  


“Due to the existence of an extra end-to-end signal propagation path established by the RIS, we found that RISs can reduce the adverse effects of channel aging on the communication system, as well as improve the overall system performance, compared to systems without an RIS,” Zhang said, “Moreover, the system performance improved as the total transmit power and the number of antennas at the base station, the number of the RIS’s reflecting elements and the temporal correlation coefficient increased.”


But, Zhang said, while the RIS can increase transmission capacity by adding reflecting elements, it does not have infinite capacity since it will eventually become saturated.


“This analysis is helpful in providing a theoretical basis for the system optimization design of RIS-assisted communication systems,” Zhang said. “The study can be further generalized along with several promising future work directions, as well. For example, we can apply this approach to the study of spatially correlated fading and more efficient channel estimation methods, to name just a few.”


Other contributors include Huahua Xiao, ZTE Corporation, State Key Laboratory of Mobile Network and Mobile Multimedia Technology; Jiayi Zhang, School of Electronic and Information Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University; Bo Ai, State Key Laboratory of Rail Traffic Control and Safety, Beijing Jiatong University; and Derrick Wing Kwan Ng, School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, University of New South Wales.


The National Key Research and Development Program of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Beijing Natural Science Foundation, the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, the Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship, the Frontiers Science Center for Smart High-Speed Railway System, the Project of China Shenhua, the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities in China, ZTE Corporation, the State Key Laboratory of Mobile Network and Mobile Multimedia Technology, the UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute and the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project funded this research.


The paper is also available on SciOpen ( by Tsinghua University Press.




About Intelligent and Converged Networks 


Intelligent and Converged Networks is an international specialized journal that focuses on the latest developments in communication technology. The journal is co-published by Tsinghua University Press and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technology (ICT). Intelligent and Converged Networks draws its name from the accelerating convergence of different fields of communication technology and the growing influence of artificial intelligence and machine learning.


About SciOpen 


SciOpen is a professional open access resource for discovery of scientific and technical content published by the Tsinghua University Press and its publishing partners, providing the scholarly publishing community with innovative technology and market-leading capabilities. SciOpen provides end-to-end services across manuscript submission, peer review, content hosting, analytics, and identity management and expert advice to ensure each journal’s development by offering a range of options across all functions as Journal Layout, Production Services, Editorial Services, Marketing and Promotions, Online Functionality, etc. By digitalizing the publishing process, SciOpen widens the reach, deepens the impact, and accelerates the exchange of ideas.

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