In this paper, theoretical upper bounds and computer simulation results on the error performance of multilevel block coded modulations for unequal error protection (UEP) and multistage decoding are presented. It is shown that nonstandard signal set partitionings and multistage decoding provide excellent UEP capabilities beyond those achievable with conventional coded modulation. The coding scheme is designed in such a way that the most important information bits have a lower error rate than other information bits. The large effective error coefficients, normally associated with standard mapping by set partitioning, are reduced by considering nonstandard partitionings of the underlying signal set. The bits-to-signal mappings induced by these partitionings allow the use of soft-decision decoding of binary block codes. Moreover, parallel operation of some of the staged decoders is possible, to achieve high data rate transmission, so that there is no error propagation between these decoders. Hybrid partitionings are also considered that trade off increased intraset distances in the last partition levels with larger effective error coefficients in the middle partition levels. The error performance of specific examples of multilevel codes over 8-PSK and 64-QAM signal sets are simulated and compared with theoretical upper bounds on the error performance.
Robert H. Morelos-Zaragoza, Marc P. C. Fossorier, Shu Lin, and Hideki Imai. "Multilevel Coded Modulation for Unequal Error Protection and Multistage Decoding—Part I: Symmetric Constellations" Faculty Publications (2000): 204-213. doi:10.1109/26.823553