As Lee Corso of College Gameday on ESPN would say “Not so fast, my friend!” I know I’ve heard that “MIMO is dead” many times since 2004 when I joined the WSIL at the University of Texas. Lee CorsoThis claim is usually a result of two opinions: (1) We know everything we need to know about MIMO (2) MIMO only works well in simulations, not the real world. In my opinion, to automatically dismiss wireless research because it focuses on MIMO techniques is a bit shallow. While it is true that the wireless community’s conceptual understanding of MIMO communication theory is very advanced, much of this theoretical understanding of MIMO is insufficient to make MIMO work in the real world. Recent research into practical feedback methods, mutli-user MIMO, and MAC-design in MIMO networks are just a few research topics that will likely, in part, enable future wireless implementations.

Not convinced? At the January IEEE meeting in London, a plan for 802.16m was formally announced. 802.16m, a sequel of WiMax will deliver a maximum of 1 Gbps. One of the proposed components of such a system is a large number of transmit and receive antennas. Many are skeptical that such deliverables are possible since this is more than ten times the throughput of current WiMax systems. If you look at technology throughout history, there’s always been this battle between the “visionaries” and the “realists”. Twenty years ago who would have believed you could make telephone calls, watch color television/on-demand videos, listen to any music you desire, and connect to a world-wide network of computing devices all on a electronics component smaller than your wallet?

We may never deliver 1 Gbps wireless traffic in mobile systems by using the current allocated bandwidth with MIMO techniques, but we’re not fully realizing MIMO’s potential either. To say that “MIMO is Dead” is just plain silly.