Abstract

We present a theoretical and experimental study on the impact of different thermal-induced free-space turbulence distributions on the M–quadrature amplitude modulation (M-QAM) signal transmission in radio frequency K-band over hybrid optical links of standard single mode fiber (SSMF) and free-space optics (FSO). Frequency multiplication using an external intensity modulator biased at the null transmission point has been employed to photonically generate radio signals at a frequency of 25 GHz , included for the frequency bands for fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks. Moreover, extensive simulations have been performed for ${10\; {\rm Gb/s}}$ with 4-, 16-, and 64-QAM over 5 km of SSMF and 500 m long FSO channels under scenarios with different turbulence levels and distributions. Proof-of-concept experiments have been conducted for 20 MHz with 4- and 64-QAM over 5 km of SSMF and 2 m long FSO channels under turbulence conditions. Both theoretical and experimental systems have been analyzed in terms of error vector magnitude (EVM) performance showing feasible transmission over the hybrid links in the received optical power range. Non-uniform turbulence distributions are shown to have a different impact on M-QAM modulation formats, i.e., turbulence distributions with higher strength in the middle of the FSO link reveal a 1.9 dB penalty when using 64-QAM signals compared to a 1.3 dB penalty using 4-QAM signals, whereas higher penalties have been measured when 4-QAM format is transmitted over turbulence distributions with larger magnitude in the second half of the FSO link. The results have been validated by theoretical predictions and lead to practical consequences on future networks’ deployment.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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