Why Radio Frequency Propagation Modeling Matters in a 5G World

Why Radio Frequency Propagation Modeling Matters in a 5G World
Agnes Mends-Crentsil

As the 5G race picks up, communications service providers (CSPs) are pushing to deliver high-quality network services. But CSPs are expected to deploy 5G across spectrum bands that have vastly different characteristics than previous technologies. This aspect, and the need to support diverse 5G use cases with the potential for numerous deployment scenarios, creates a challenge for CSPs as they consider how to reduce signaling interference to achieve ultra-high-level bandwidth capacity, downlink speed, and superior customer experience.

According to IDC, there are three main benefits to using radio frequency (RF) propagation modeling when planning 5G networks.

  1. Return on Investment: Network Planning

With the explosion of small cell sites deployed to support 5G, it is critical that CSPs ensure return on investment by properly planning their networks. CSPs can do this by using RF propagation modeling to avoid design coverage inefficiencies that can lead to underestimating or overestimating network coverage, unnecessary cell deployment, and direct path loss from the cell transmitter—all of which can result in higher CapEx due to rework.

  1. Know Thy Spectrum Band: mmWave

In as much as millimeter wave (mmWave)-based services promise to deliver significant improvement for 5G in areas such as capacity, downlink, and latency, there are also challenges: innate characteristics of mmWave bands include reduced coverage, vulnerability to path loss, and limitations on penetrating hard surface areas. With RF propagation modeling, CSPs can vigilantly address these limitations as they plan for 5G network deployment.

  1. Modeling for Success: RF Propagation

RF propagation modeling is a key step in the network planning phase and leverages advanced modeling techniques to accurately predict path loss from a transmitter to any given location.

RF propagation modeling allows CSPs to leverage data from calibrated models to demonstrate a real-world deployment scenario, giving CSPs timely information before they commit CapEx to a 5G rollout project and helping them achieve an optimized level of network coverage for every dollar spent on delivering the RF network.

The reality is that 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. By equipping CSPs with the tools needed for mobile network planning in a 5G world, our goal is to empower RF engineers with the knowledge they need to align network performance with service strategy.

 Learn more about why propagation modeling matters in the 5G world

Agnes.Mends-Crentsil is a product marketing manager at NETSCOUT.