I encounter a situation that it is very beneficial to limit the signal strength below noise floor.

I know that the Shannon–Hartley theorem suggest that it is possible:

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I searched over the internet but cannot find any direct pointer.

What keywords should I look for? Are there any compiled resources on the topic?


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Spread spectrum is a common technique for transmission below the noise level, by exchanging peak power for bandwidth. $\endgroup$
    – Juancho
    Feb 20, 2019 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ try “threshold signal” $\endgroup$
    – user28715
    Feb 20, 2019 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


There may be some confusion about the definition of SNR.

In some applications you may be interested in reducing the ratio of the signal power spectral density to noise power spectral density. "SNR" in this case refers to the ratio of the signal to noise power when you measure both over the same bandwidth. In these cases, as Juancho pointed out, direct-sequence spread spectrum is a classical technique. It deliberately spreads the signal power over a wider bandwidth.

The SNR used in the Shannon-Hartley Theorem refers to the SNR per channel usage. To oversimplify the matter, it refers to the SNR per symbol after you demodulate the signal. Spread spectrum does not decrease the SNR needed to achieve a given data rate; it just spreads the signal power in the SNR calculation over a wider bandwidth. It is true that you can communicate with SNR lower than 0 dB: one typically does so in a practical environment using simple modulation (e.g., BPSK, QPSK) and a low code rate with a strong-performing code. Whether one spreads the signal or not is a separate decision.


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