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In this paper, a novel class of serially concatenated convolutional codes (SCCCs) is addressed. In contrast to standard SCCCs, where high rates are obtained by puncturing the outer code, the heavy puncturing is moved to the inner code, which can be punctured beyond the unitary rate. We derive analytical upper bounds on the error probability of this code structure by considering an equivalent code construction consisting of the parallel concatenation of two codes, and address suitable design guidelines for code optimization. It is shown that the optimal puncturing of the inner code depends on the outer code, i.e., it is interleaver dependent. This dependence cannot be tracked by the analysis for standard SCCCs, which fails in predicting code performance. Based on the considerations arising from the bounds analysis, we construct a family of rate-compatible SCCCs with a high level of flexibility and a good performance over a wide range of code rates, using simple constituent codes. The error rate performance of the proposed codes is found to be better than that of standard SCCCs, especially for high rates, and comparable to the performance of more complex turbo codes.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2009