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Types of Beamforming in Wireless Communication

Last Updated : 15 May, 2023
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Pre-requisites: Spatial Filtering in Wireless Communications 

In simpler terms beamforming is a procedure of sending electromagnetic signals in a particular direction rather than sending them in all directions by adjusting the phase and amplitude of the transmitted signals. Beamforming is formed by reinforcing the signal in a particular direction.

Why is Beamforming Required?

  • It Increases the range of transmission and signal quality.
  • It Efficiently uses power and reduces interference.
  • Maximum data transfer possible.
  • The amount of power consumed will be less than the power required in an Omnidirectional antenna.
  • Good connectivity.
  • Lesser call drops and data breaches.
  • It provides diversity gain by coherent combining of the multiple signal paths.

Beamforming can be achieved by applying a precoding matrix that weighs the transmitted signals to form a beam in a particular direction.

Beamforming in Wireless Communication


Types of Beamforming

There are two types of beamforming

  • Analog beamforming    
  • Digital beamforming

Analog Beamforming: In analog beamforming, the phase and amplitude variation is applied to the analog signal to create a directional beam. This technique is used in older wireless communication systems and the signals from different antennas are summed up before the ADC conversion at the receiver’s end.

Digital Beamforming: In digital beamforming, the phase and amplitude variation is applied to the digital signal before Digital to analog conversion at the transmitter’s end to create a directional beam. This technique is used in modern wireless communication systems and is more flexible than analog beamforming.

There are two subtypes of digital beamforming:

  • Precoding: The signal is preprocessed at the transmitter’s end to create a focused beam in the receiver’s direction.
  • Post-Processing: The signal is received at the receiver and then processed to create a focused beam in the transmitter’s direction.

Applications of Beamforming 

  • Wi-Fi Networks
  • Cellular Networks
  • Radar Systems
  • Satellite Communication

Overall, beamforming is a powerful technique that can improve the performance of wireless communication systems in a variety of applications.

How Does Beamforming Implement?

  • To implement beamforming, multiple antennas are arranged in an array and each antenna transmits the same signal but with a different phase.
  • By adjusting the phase of each signal, signals can be combined and generate a stronger signal in the direction of the receiver.

Advantages of Beamforming

  •  It Improves signal quality.
  • The range of the signal Increases.
  • Perform better in crowded environments

Disadvantages of Beamforming

  • It can be effective only within a limited range.
  • Its performance can be affected by environmental factors such as buildings, walls, rain, and other obstructions.
  • Multiple antennas imply high hardware costs.

Comparison of Analog and Digital Beamforming in Wireless Communication

Features Analog Beamforming  Digital Beamforming
Type of signal processing  Analog signal processing  Digital signal processing
Signal Processing Location  At the receiver’s end  At the transmitter’s end
Flexibility  Less flexible  More flexible
Hardware requirement  Fewer hardware requirements  Multiple hardware requirements
Interference  More interference  Less interference
System Complexity  Simple Complex
Performance Good for simple applications  Better for complex applications
Range  Limited range  Longer range
Applications  Used in older wireless communication systems  Used in modern wireless communication systems

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