MagnaCom Declares Its ‘WAM’ Modulation Technology Beats QAM

MagnaCom, a privately held company in Laguna Beach, Calif., claims it has invented a new modulation technology that “will help alleviate the global spectrum congestion and help satisfy the explosive demand for bandwidth.”

The new technology is “WAM” (WAve Modulation) that the company says will challenge the 40-year dominance of QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) as the modulation methodology of choice for advanced communications systems. It also claims WAM can be used without making any modification to RF systems, antennas or analog device front-ends.

“MagnaCom’s new invention of WAM technology is a multi-decade leap forward compared to best-of-breed today, and can ignite the next true revolution in digital communications,” said Yossi Cohen, co-founder of MagnaCom. “In shattering several industry axioms and demonstrating a 10 dB advantage, MagnaCom offers extreme benefits--from slashing up to 50 percent of power and spectrum, to quadrupling distance, enhancing speed and improving call quality. We are making the once thought impossible now possible, and this can really change the industry.”

The 10 dB advantage is in comparison with QAM4096, an extremely high-order modulation method that I haven't seen used in any consumer devices, although NHK did implement it in its short range wireless 8K demonstration at the NAB Show this year.

MagnaCom describes the technology this way:

“WAM technology is a pure digital new modulation scheme, using spectral compression that improves spectral efficiency. The spectral compression enables an increase of the signaling rate thereby affording the use of lower order alphabet, which reduces complexity. It provides inherent diversity of time and frequency domains and uses nonlinear signal shaping. The nonlinearities are handled digitally at the receiver side, allowing a lower-cost and lower-power transmitter design.”

WAM benefits cited include up to a 10 dB system gain advantage, up to “400 times the distance,” up to “50 percent lower power,” up to “50 percent spectrum savings,” better noise tolerance, a major increase in speed, lower cost, easier systems design and a “100 percent” backward compatibility with existing systems.

Reviewing MagnaCom's patents, provides some guidance on how it works, but as with many patents, the language is a bit difficult to decipher. If you want to give it a try, here is the abstract from US Patent number 8,526,523:

“A receiver may be operable to receive a QAM-based, inter-symbol correlated (ISC) signal at a signal-to-noise ratio of between 29 dB and 31 dB and process the QAM-based ISC signal to output estimated symbols at a symbol error rate of between 2x10E-1 and 1x10E-3. The QAM-based, ISC signal may be a partial response signal generated by passing a first signal through a partial response pulse shaping filter. The partial response pulse shaping filter may provide greater capacity than a capacity achieved by passing the first signal through a root-raised-cosine-based pulse shaping filter. The receiver may compromises an input filter, and the processing of the QAM-based, ISC signal may comprises filtering the QAM-based, ISC signal via a filter configured to achieve a desired total partial response in combination with the partial response pulse shaping filter.”

Other patents cover techniques for generating and decoding the signals, as well as an equalizer that uses the ISC signal. More information and links to the patents are available at

MagnaCom said it will demonstrate its WAM technology at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas. I hope to learn more about it there.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.