IEEE Access Special Section Editorial: Index Modulation Techniques for Next-Generation Wireless Networks

Index modulation (IM) techniques appear as competitive candidates for next-generation (5G and beyond) wireless networks due to the attractive advantages they offer in terms of spectral and energy efficiency as well as hardware simplicity. IM is a highly spectrum- and energy-efficient yet simple digital modulation technique, which utilizes the indices of the building blocks of the corresponding communication systems to convey additional information bits. IM systems provide alternative ways to transmit information in contrast to traditional digital modulation schemes that rely on the modulation of the amplitude/phase/frequency of a sinusoidal carrier signal for transmission, as widely considered in the field of communications over the past 50 years. Radically, IM schemes have the ability to map information bits by altering the on/off status of their transmission entities such as transmit antennas, subcarriers, radio frequency (RF) mirrors, transmit light emitting diodes, relays, modulation types, time slots, precoder matrices, dispersion matrices, spreading codes, signal powers, loads and so on. In other words, IM creates completely new dimensions for data transmission. Since the initial skepticism of both academia and industry on the potential and applicability of IM technologies has now gone away, we strongly believe that IM is not another simple digital modulation alternative, but rather can be a game-changing communication paradigm whose time has come!

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