How to Ensure the Accuracy of RF Propagation Models

Best practices for designing complex 4G/5G networks based on fact, not fiction

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As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other international governing bodies enable more spectrum availability for 5G services to meet increasing data demand, they are also increasing the carriers’ accountability for utilizing the spectrum more efficiently. As a result, more accurate reporting of coverage and throughput is needed.

Radio access networks (RANs) are also becoming more complex, making prediction accuracy even more important. The industry has met this challenge with improved imaging technologies capable of rendering higher-quality geographic information systems (GIS) data, further providing an opportunity to improve on RF propagation model accuracy.

5G will unlock hundreds of new use cases across both the consumer and the enterprise space. However, without proper planning, many network rollouts are likely to fall short in several business and performance metrics. RF propagation modeling provides timely information before service providers commit capex to a 5G rollout project and helps them achieve an optimized level of network coverage for every dollar spent on delivering the RF network.

The Importance of RF Propagation Modeling

Calibrated or “tuned” RF propagation models characterize the path loss from a transmitter to any given location. These models are a key requirement for RF planning tools used to design and optimize 5G networks. Inaccuracies in propagation models compromise network planning and optimization activities, costing money and time. Accurately modeled path loss predictions help carriers avoid unnecessary site builds that do not improve network quality (over-designed networks) or coverage holes that cause unhappy subscribers (under-designed networks). An RF engineer can determine site settings that accurately model the real world once implemented by using calibrated models as a basis for developing a new site plan or optimizing an existing cluster of sites.

Following the best practices listed below will help carriers assure the accuracy of RF propagation models for 4G/5G RAN.

Use High-Fidelity Data

With the experience of more than 30,000 continuous wave (CW) measurements over a 20-year history, NETSCOUT has established and perfected a proprietary process for delivering the highest-quality models to our customers. This process is further strengthened with an extensive off-the-shelf data library uniquely designed to minimize planning complexity and accelerate the delivery of customized RF engineering models.

Use Patented Techniques to Overcome Data Bias

NETSCOUT’s Dynamic Range Compensation (DRC) techniques remove the risks associated with the overestimation of cell edge. Without DRC, calibrated models lead to inaccurate simulations and incorrect and costly decisions during design and optimization. At cell edges, this practice leads to inaccurate simulations and incorrect decisions during design and optimization.

Work with RF Propagation Subject Matter Experts

NETSCOUT’s RF engineers are subject matter experts (SMEs) who are solely focused on model calibration techniques and the changing needs of RAN planning and optimization teams. The RF Engineering Services team performs at an unmatched scale to develop thousands of models each year with intimate knowledge of the common and uncommon pitfalls of the process. Our field engineers collect data with backup documentation, photos, and film footage to meet your specific requirements.

Use Proprietary Techniques for Calibration

Used in conjunction with premium-quality CW data, our proprietary TruePath software improves RF modeling accuracy for better propagation models. All calibrated models are provided with extensive model calibration statistics, as well as unique model-error versus distance key performance indicators (KPIs).

Seek Vendor-agnostic Tools

RF model calibration techniques work with existing planning tools and processes. The ease of model integration and the use of turnkey planning tools ensures the best solution for the customer and yields an attractive total cost of ownership (TCO).

Superior Customer Support

There’s no guesswork in what we do. NETSCOUT enables network planners and RF network design engineers to base decisions on scientific fact, not fiction. Drawing insights from continuous wave-based measurements and actual subscriber traffic, our RF Propagation Model Calibration programs utilize an ever-expanding library of tuned models.

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