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This letter addresses the effect of timing synchronization errors that are introduced by an erroneous detection of the start of an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) symbol. Throughout this letter, the term "timing error" would refer to this type of error. Such errors degrade the performance of an OFDM receiver by introducing intercarrier interference (ICI) and intersymbol interference (ISI). They can occur due to either an erroneous initial frame synchronization or a change in the power delay profile of the channel. In this letter, we provide a mathematical analysis of the effect of timing errors on the performance of an OFDM receiver in a frequency-selective fading environment. The analysis presented in this letter is for the case that no equalization technique has been used to mitigate the introduced ICI and ISI. We find exact formulas for the power of interference terms and the resulting average signal-to-interference ratio. We further extend the analysis to the subsample level. Our results show the nonsymmetric effect of timing errors on the performance of an OFDM system. Finally, simulation results confirm the analysis. The results of this letter can be easily extended to address the effect of such errors on DMT modems.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2006