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This paper focuses on interference issues arising in the downlink of a heterogeneous network (HetNet), where small cells are deployed within a macrocell. Interference scenario in a HetNet varies based on the type of small cell access modes, which can be classified as either closed subscriber group (CSG) or open subscriber group (OSG) modes. For these two types of modes, we propose hierarchical interference alignment (HIA) schemes, which successively determine beamforming matrices for small cell and macro base stations (BSs) by considering a HetNet environment in which the macro BS and small cell BSs have different numbers of transmit antennas. Unlike prior work on interference alignment (IA) for homogeneous networks, the proposed HIA schemes compute the beamforming matrices in closed-form and reduce the feedforward overhead through a hierarchical approach. By providing a tight outer bound of the degrees-of-freedom (DoF), we also investigate the optimality of the proposed HIA schemes with respect to the number of antennas without any time expansion. Furthermore, we propose a new optimization process to maximize the sum-rate performance of each cell while satisfying the IA conditions. The simulation results show that the proposed HIA schemes provide an additional DoF compared to the conventional interference coordination schemes using a time domain-based resource partitioning. Under multi-cell interference environments, the proposed schemes offer an approximately 100% improvement in throughput gain compared to the conventional coordinated beamforming schemes when the interference from coordinated BSs is significantly stronger than the remaining interference from uncoordinated BSs.
Date of Publication: December 2012