Adaptive OFDM modulation for underwater acoustic communications: Design considerations and experimental results

Andreja Radosevic, Rameez Ahmed, Tolga M. Duman, John G. Proakis, Milica Stojanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


In this paper, we explore design aspects of adaptive modulation based on orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) for underwater acoustic (UWA) communications, and study its performance using real-time at-sea experiments. Our design criterion is to maximize the system throughput under a target average bit error rate (BER). We consider two different schemes based on the level of adaptivity: in the first scheme, only the modulation levels are adjusted while the power is allocated uniformly across the subcarriers, whereas in the second scheme, both the modulation levels and the power are adjusted adaptively. For both schemes we linearly predict the channel one travel time ahead so as to improve the performance in the presence of a long propagation delay. The system design assumes a feedback link from the receiver that is exploited in two forms: one that conveys the modulation alphabet and quantized power levels to be used for each subcarrier, and the other that conveys a quantized estimate of the sparse channel impulse response. The second approach is shown to be advantageous, as it requires significantly fewer feedback bits for the same system throughput. The effectiveness of the proposed adaptive schemes is demonstrated using computer simulations, real channel measurements recorded in shallow water off the western coast of Kauai, HI, USA, in June 2008, and real-time at-sea experiments conducted at the same location in July 2011. We note that this is the first paper that presents adaptive modulation results for UWA links with real-time at-sea experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6519976
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive modulation
  • Feedback
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM)
  • Underwater acoustic (UWA) communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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