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The usual approach when designing an orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) system, is to dimension the length of the cyclic prefix (CP) equal to the length of a typical "bad" (i.e., long) channel impulse response, so that both inter-symbol and inter-carrier interference are avoided for almost all channel realizations. However, such an approach does not maximize system capacity. It (a) wastes channel resources for relatively short channel impulse response realizations and (b) it is not necessarily optimal to completely eliminate interference. In this paper, we study the problem of designing the CP length for OFDM systems in a capacity-optimal way. To this end, we first present optimal and simplified metrics suitable to maximize capacity. Then, we apply those metrics and propose practical resource (bit-loading and OFDM sub-channel assignment) algorithms that include CP-length adaptation. We present numerical results for the example of a power line communication (PLC) OFDM system with typical indoor PLC channels that confirm the gains achievable with the proposed CP-length adaptation.
Date of Publication: November 2010