Single-sideband modulation

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Single-sideband modulation (SSB) is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth. It is closely related to vestigial sideband modulation (VSB) (see below).

Amplitude modulation produces a modulated output signal that has twice the bandwidth of the original baseband signal. Single-sideband modulation avoids this bandwidth doubling, and the power wasted on a carrier, at the cost of somewhat increased device complexity.

The first U.S. patent[1] for SSB modulation was applied for on December 1, 1915 by John Renshaw Carson. The U.S. Navy experimented with SSB over its radio circuits before World War I.[2][3] SSB first entered commercial service on January 7, 1927 on the longwave transatlantic public radiotelephone circuit between New York and London. The high power SSB transmitters were located at Rocky Point, New York and Rugby, England. The receivers were in very quiet locations in Houlton, Maine and Cupar Scotland.[4]

SSB was also used over long distance telephone lines, as part of a technique known as frequency-division multiplexing (FDM). FDM was pioneered by telephone companies in the 1930s. This enabled many voice channels to be sent down a single physical circuit, for example in L-carrier. SSB allowed channels to be spaced (usually) just 4,000 Hz apart, while offering a speech bandwidth of nominally 300–3,400 Hz.

Amateur radio operators began serious experimentation with SSB after World War II. The Strategic Air Command established SSB as the radio standard for its aircraft in 1957.[5] It has become a de facto standard for long-distance voice radio transmissions since then.

SSB and VSB can also be regarded mathematically as special cases of analog quadrature amplitude modulation.


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