Downlink performance of superimposed pilots in massive MIMO systems

Karthik Upadhya, Sergiy A. Vorobyov, Mikko Vehkapera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we investigate the downlink throughput performance of a massive multiple-input multiple-output system that employs superimposed pilots for channel estimation. The component of downlink (DL) interference that results from transmitting data alongside pilots in the uplink (UL) is shown to decrease at a rate proportional to the square root of the number of antennas at the BS when the least-squares channel estimate is employed in a matched-filter precoder. The normalized mean-squared error (NMSE) of the channel estimate is compared with the Bayesian Cramér-Rao lower bound that is derived for the system, and the former is also shown to diminish with increasing number of antennas at the base station. Furthermore, we show that staggered pilots are a particular case of superimposed pilots and offer the downlink throughput of superimposed pilots while retaining the UL spectral and energy efficiency of regular pilots. We also extend the framework for designing a hybrid system, consisting of users that transmit either regular or superimposed pilots, to minimize both the UL and DL interference. The improved NMSE and DL rates of the channel estimator based on superimposed pilots are demonstrated by means of simulations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8428665
Pages (from-to)6630-6644
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • downlink performance
  • Massive MIMO
  • pilot contamination
  • staggered pilots
  • superimposed pilots


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