A smart antenna is an array of antenna elements connected to a digital signal processor. Such a configuration dramatically enhances the capacity of a wireless link through a combination of diversity gain, array gain, and interference suppression. Increased capacity translates to higher data rates for a given number of users or more users for a given data rate per user.
The smart antenna works as follows. Each antenna element "sees" each propagation path differently, enabling the collection of elements to distinguish individual paths to within a certain resolution. As a consequence, smart antenna transmitters can encode independent streams of data onto different paths or linear combinations of paths, thereby increasing the data rate, or they can encode data redundantly onto paths that fade independently to protect the receiver from catastrophic signal fades, thereby providing diversity gain.
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