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By using a double-sideband suppressed carrier (DSB-SC) optical transmitter and a remote self-heterodyned (RSH) detection method, we experimentally and analytically proved the feasibility of a radio-over-fiber system using a 16-QAM signal at 5 Gb/s and 18 GHz, with a transmission distance of 100 km between a mobile service center and a base station. The transmission system performance was carefully analyzed by considering optical amplifier noise, fiber nonlinearity, phase noise, frequency response, and analog-to-digital converter (ADC) quantization noise. The 18-GHz, 16-QAM signal can be radiated from the base station to a remote antenna port without any upconverter, and the remote antenna port consists of a downconverter and high-speed digital signal processors (DSPs) to recover the 16-QAM signal. The high-speed DSP, which partially compensates the intersymbol-interference (ISI) and phase-noise-induced system penalties, was enabled by 20-Gs/s ADCs. The algorithms used in the DSP blocks were also described in details.