In this paper, we propose and demonstrate a bidirectional radio-over-fiber (ROF) system using a reference signal distribution. In order to minimize the radio-frequency (RF) signal attenuation as well as limit the transmit power to moderate levels, small cell size, or picocell is used in the ROF system. This will result in the need of many base stations (BSs) to provide sufficient network coverage. Because of this, colorless remote antenna unit (RAU) with optical carrier generated and distributed from the head end (HE) is employed. Experimental results show that error-free signal transmission and remodulation using downstream differential phase shift keying (DPSK) and upstream on-off keying (OOK) is achieved in a 20-km reach ROF system. Experimental characterization of the reflective semiconductor optical amplifier (RSOA)-based remodulation unit is also performed. Numerical simulation is performed to compare the proposed scheme with several conventional optical millimeter-wave (mm-wave) schemes, including double sideband (DSB), optical carrier suppression (OCS), and single sideband (SSB). Results show that the proposed scheme could be a potential candidate to mitigate signal distortions due to signal fading and code time shifting.
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