Guard interval

Guard interval

In telecommunications, guard intervals are used to ensure that distinct transmissions do not interfere with one another. These transmissions may belong to different users (as in TDMA) or to the same user (as in OFDM).

The purpose of the guard interval is to introduce immunity to propagation delays, echoes and reflections, to which digital data is normally very sensitive.

In COFDM, the beginning of each symbol is preceded by a guard interval. As long as the echoes fall within this interval, they will not affect the receiver's ability to safely decode the actual data, as data is only interpreted outside the guard interval.

In TDMA, each user's timeslot "ends" with a guard period, to avoid data loss and to reduce interference to the following user, caused by propagation delay. Thus a user's timeslot is protected from interference from the preceding user, by the guard interval (guard period) at the "end" of that preceding user's timeslot. It is a common misconception that each TDMA timeslot "begins" with a guard interval, however the ITU Technical Specifications (such as GSM 05.05) clearly define the guard period as being at the "end" of each timeslot, thus providing protection against data loss within that timeslot, and protection against interference to the following timeslot.

Longer guard periods allow more distant echoes to be tolerated. However, longer guard intervals reduce the channel efficiency. For example, in DVB-T, four guard intervals are available (given as fractions of a symbol period)::1/32 ; 1/16 ; 1/8 ; 1/4Hence, 1/32 gives lowest protection and the highest data rate. 1/4 results in the best protection but the lowest data rate.

External links

* [ Technical Standard GSM 05.05 Radio Transmission and Reception] . Contains descriptions and diagrams of the GSM use of TDMA timeslots, bursts, and guard periods.

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