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In this paper, we address the potential benefits of dual-polarized arrays in multi-antenna wireless systems. After an extensive literature overview of experimental data, we present a new and simple analytical framework to model dual-polarized Rayleigh and Ricean fading channels for arbitrary array sizes. The model relies on a limited number of physical parameters, such as the channel spatial correlations, the channel co-polar and the cross-polar ratios and the antenna cross-polar discrimination. Then, we investigate the multiplexing advantage of dual-polarized transmissions through the evaluation of the ergodic mutual information, for both TITO and MIMO systems. Finally, the performance of two space-time coding schemes (Alamouti OSTBC and uncoded spatial multiplexing) is evaluated via a detailed analysis of the pairwise error probability.