The last few years have witnessed a tremendous growth of the demand for wireless services and a significant increase of the number of mobile subscribers. A recent data traffic forecast from Cisco reported that the global mobile data traffic reached 1.2 zettabytes per year in 2016, and the global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next 5 years. Based on these predictions, a 127-fold increase of the IP traffic is expected from 2005 to 2021. It is also anticipated that the mobile data traffic will reach 3.3 zettabytes per year by 2021, and that the number of mobile-connected devices will reach 3.5 per capita.
With such demands for higher data rates and for better quality of service (QoS), fifth generation (5G) standardization initiatives, whose initial phase was specified in June 2018 under the umbrella of Long Term Evolution (LTE) Release 15, have been under vibrant investigation. In particular, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has identified three usage scenarios (service categories) for 5G wireless networks: (i) enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), (ii) ultra-reliable and low latency communications (uRLLC), and (iii) massive machine type communications (mMTC). The vast variety of applications for beyond 5G wireless networks has motivated the necessity of novel and more flexible physical layer (PHY) technologies, which are capable of providing higher spectral and energy efficiencies, as well as reduced transceiver implementations.
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Recently, generative neural network models which operate directly on raw audio, such as WaveNet, have improved the state of the art in text-to-speech synthesis (TTS). Moreover, there is increasing interest in using these models as statistical vocoders for generating speech waveforms from various acoustic features. However, there is also a need to reduce the model complexity, without compromising the synthesis quality. Previously, glottal pulseforms (i.e., time-domain waveforms corresponding to the source of human voice production mechanism) have been successfully synthesized in TTS by glottal vocoders using straightforward deep feedforward neural networks. Therefore, it is natural to extend the glottal waveform modeling domain to use the more powerful WaveNet-like architecture. Furthermore, due to their inherent simplicity, glottal excitation waveforms permit scaling down the waveform generator architecture. In this study, we present a raw waveform glottal excitation model, called GlotNet, and compare its performance with the corresponding direct speech waveform model, WaveNet, using equivalent architectures. The models are evaluated as part of a statistical parametric TTS system. Listening test results show that both approaches are rated highly in voice similarity to the target speaker, and obtain similar quality ratings with large models. Furthermore, when the model size is reduced, the quality degradation is less severe for GlotNet.
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