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Alternative RF Planning Solutions

Coverage Deficiency
Aleksey A. Kurochkin

Issue Date: December 2002

INTRODUCTION Solutions Are Versatile

Even though the methods are applied in this paper to

T his paper introduces a few of the more common alter-

natives to the usual RF (radio frequency) planning
solutions for coverage deficiency problems. These meth-
a GSM (global system mobile) telecommunications sys-
tem in the 1900 MHz PCS (personal communication
service) band for ease of comparison, in principle, these
ods are being applied after or concurrently with the RF methods can be used successfully for a range of wireless
design activity, as well as during the implementation and systems in PCS and other bands.
operations phases of network life.
Five solutions for coverage deficiency problems are
described in this paper, namely: MICROCELL SOLUTION - 1
• Microcell Solution - 1

Off-Air Repeater Solution - 2
FO (Fiber Optic)/RF Solution - 3 (with two options)
T he road and the buildings on each side of the road can
be covered with a 5W microcell. This solution provides
omni coverage, with maximum coverage in the middle of
• TMA (Tower-Mounted Amplifier) Solution - 4
the town and minimum coverage at the town edges.
• Leaky Coax Solution - 5 (with two options)
Each of the solutions is presented in a general descrip- Configuration
tion with an illustrative diagram and/or figure, a configu- One 5W microcell should be installed in the middle of
ration to suit the proposed example, and implementation the town at the base of the light pole. One ½-in. coax
notes. The options demonstrate the flexibility that needs cable will run up to 20 feet on the light pole to the single
to be present in RF designs. These examples also provide 3-foot omni antenna. See Table 1 for the detailed link
valuable points of comparison. General recommenda- budget.
tions are provided in the Conclusion. Although the exam- According to this prediction, the RSSI (received signal
ples are described using U.S. measurement units, the strength indicator) level of -95 dBm can be expected at
principles are easily transferred to international applica- 600 yards from the antenna location with 95 percent reli-
tions and metric units. ability. (This link budget is provided only as an example.
The RF design software package with its corresponding
Example of Coverage Objective and Limitations link budget should be used to plan the real system.)
A hypothetical town that stretches 1,000 yards along a
relatively straight portion of a two-lane road is chosen as Implementation Notes
the example for coverage deficiency. The portion of the This design is part of the regular RF planning/design
road that runs through the town, as well as the first row process, as well as Implementation process, except for
of shops on both sides of the road, should be covered the following stealthing requirements: The coax cable
with street level coverage at -95 dBm with 95 percent should be ordered in a specific color to match the light
reliability. It will be assumed that the rest of the road is pole, while the antenna and microcell outdoor cabinet
covered at -95 dBm level or better. Access to the light can be painted for stealthing.
poles along the road has been granted, but every other See Figure 1 for an example of the installation.
type of installation is prohibited by the town.

December 2002 • Volume 1, Number 1 37

Table 1. Microcell Link Budget

Project Name: 1000 Yard Town Suburban High Dense 4.00 <-- Site Area Type
Site Name or Sector Name: Microcell Area Coverage Reliability (60-99): 95%
BTS Rx Band Frequencies, MHz: 1895 SU Rx Band Frequencies, MHz: 1980
MHz: 1900 MHz: 1985
Forward Link Reverse Link

What Kind of System is Used?: PCS-1900 BTS

5 What Kind of SU is Used?: Standard Portable
What Kind of Amplifier is Used?: MICRO 4 SU Antenna is Outside
What Kind of CU is Used?: DMCU 2
BTS Antenna Gain (dBd): 4 SU Antenna Gain (dBd): 0
Max Amplifier Output per Ch. (dBW): 7 Amplifier Output max (W): 1.2
Number of RF per antenna: 2
Height of Cell Site Antenna (m): 7 Height of SU Antenna (m): 1.5
Antenna to Hatchplate Cable Run (m): 7 SU to Antenna Cable Run (m): 0
BTS RF Cable: LDF4-50A ½"
4 SU RF Cable: None 9
RF to Hatchplate Cable (m): 0
Duplexors Included?: N
SU Diversity Gain (dB): 0.0 BTS/4-way Diversity Gain (dB): 0.0
BTS Receive Sensitivity (dBm): -106 SU Receive Sensitivity (dBm): -103

Penetration Loss (dB): 0 0

Fade Margin for 95% Area Coverage 14.7 Reliability (s=10), (dB): 14.7
Total Margin (dB): 14.7 14.7


Central RF for Calc. (MHz) 1800.0 1800.0

RF to Hatchplate Cable loss (dB) 0.0
Two connectors (dB) 0
3m antenna jumper loss (dB) 0
BTS Duplexor Tx loss (dB) 0 BTS Duplexor Rx loss (dB) 0
BTS Tx filter loss (dB) 0 BTS Rx filter loss (dB) 0
Combiner loss (dB) 2.2
BTS RF Cable loss (dB) 0.7 SU RF cable loss (dB) 0.0

FW Max Allowable Path Loss (dB) 126.4 RV Max Allowable Path Loss (dB) 126.1
Sugg. Amplifier Output/1 ch. (dBW) 6.7 Closest Amplifier Setting (dBW) 6.7
Sugg. Amplifier Output/1 ch. (W) 4.7 System Amplifier Output/1 ch. (W) 4.7
Balanced Model ERP (dBm) 37.8 System ERP (dBm) 37.8
Balanced Model ERP (W) 6.1 System ERP (W) 6.1

Hata Model Calculation Output Balanced Link (dBm) 126.1

Karea 8.3 Min RSSI for the Model (dBm): -88.3
Approx. Cell Site Radius, km 0.6 Min RSSI for the System (dBm): -94.4

One off-air repeater should be set up in the area of the

O ff-air repeaters are bi-directional power amplifiers

with gains varying from 50 to 90 dB. They provide
coverage by repeating the frequency of the base station
reliable signal received on the donor antenna outside of
the town. The transceiver coverage antenna of the
repeater should be directed toward the town center. If
in areas that lack coverage. There may be some overlap, one repeater does not provide satisfactory coverage, the
but this overlap should be minimal. This solution requires second repeater should be installed using the other cell
two off-air repeaters and the assumption that there is as a donor.
sufficient signal level from the two donor cells on each Figure 2 shows a system drawing of an off-air repeater
side of the town for the repeaters to operate. system.

38 Bechtel Telecommunications Technical Journal


Figure 1. Microcell Solution

Base Station
TX/RX Repeater




F1 Repeater
Antenna Vertical

di gi t a l

a N
B t w
e r k
o s

Radio Tower
tower Base Repeater

Repeater Coverage Area

Base Station Coverage Area

Figure 2. Off-Air Repeater Diagram

December 2002 • Volume 1, Number 1 39

Figure 3. Off-Air Repeater Solution

Base Station Coverage
TX/RX Antenna





RF Coupler
RF/Optical y N
B t w
e r k
o s

di gi t a l

RF/Optical Repeater
Radio Tower
tower Base Converter

Repeater Coverage Area

Base Station Coverage Area

Figure 4. Single FO/RF Repeater Option Diagram

40 Bechtel Telecommunications Technical Journal

Implementation Notes FO/RF SOLUTION - 3
• The capture antenna (repeater donor antenna in
Figure 2) must be highly directional and have a
front-to-back ratio of more than 25 dB.
T he FO/RF solution is based on a wireline repeater sys-
tem. Wireline repeater systems use a hardwire con-
nection between the base station and the repeater. This
• The coverage antenna should have a front-to-back is normally used for campus and/or indoor installations.
ratio of more than 25 dB. There are two options for this solution: a single repeater
• The isolation requirements should be at least 15 dB location and a distributed antenna system.
more than the gain setting of the repeater.
• As much vertical and horizontal separation as pos- Single FO/RF Repeater Option
sible should be provided between the capture and Figure 4 shows that the RF is sampled via a coupler
coverage antennas of the repeater. between the base station and the base station antenna,
• Better isolation would be obtained if the capture then sent to an optical converter where it is converted to
antenna could be shielded from the coverage optical signals and sent across fiber to the repeater loca-
antenna. tion. At the repeater location, the optical signal is con-
• The coverage overlap should be minimized. verted to RF and up-converted to the same RF frequency
• Balance of the uplink and downlink should be and transmitted to the repeater coverage antenna.
• An attenuator at the capture antenna port of the Configuration
repeater should be used to increase isolation Assume that one of the neighboring cells has access
between antennas. to a dark fiber installed along the road of interest. A ½-in.
There are no means of predicting either the location of coax jumper connects BTS (base transceiver station)
the repeater or its coverage during the standard desktop amplifier output with a splitter and connects the splitter
RF planning/design process. The town and the donor to an RF-to-fiber converter. A fiber string is run from this
cells coverage will need to be drive-tested to select the converter to the fiber-to-RF converter, which has a nomi-
best location for the repeaters. nal 5W of RF power output and will be installed on the
The repeater installation should follow the standard light pole in the middle of the town. A ½-in. coax cable
implementation process. Stealthing would usually not be connects this converter with 3-foot omni antenna.
required because both repeaters would be installed out- The link budget for this application is the same as
side of the town limits. shown in Table 1.
Once installed, the town area would need to be drive- According to this prediction, the RSSI level of -95 dBm can
tested again, and the repeater direction may need to be be expected at a 600-yard distance from the antenna location
adjusted to ensure the coverage. This could be an itera- with 95 percent reliability. The link budget is provided for
tive process to achieve best results. example only. The RF design software package with its corre-
See Figure 3 for an example of the installation. sponding link budget should be used to plan the real system.



Figure 5. Single FO/RF Repeater Option Solution

December 2002 • Volume 1, Number 1 41

Distributed Antenna System Using Fiber Transport

Equipment at the BTS Location

Feeder Cable

RF/Optical Converter
RF Coupler

Radio Tower

Base Station

Composite fiber and power cable

2ft - 3 dBd Omni


Jumper cable between

RAU and Antenna

3 m om
3 om
3 o

Remote Antenna

28 ft high
Telephone Pole

Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Site 20

Extended Coverage Area

Figure 6. Distributed Antenna System Option Diagram

42 Bechtel Telecommunications Technical Journal

Implementation Notes more remotes. Information to confirm the limitation of
A team with a system engineering specialist and an RF this has not yet been obtained.
engineer will be needed to design this system. A system The power to the remote antenna unit can be provided
vendor will be needed to install the RF/fiber system and by a composite power and fiber cable. The distance from
components. The system installation should follow the the main hub will be limited by the power deterioration,
standard implementation process. The coax cable can be which, for most manufacturers, is about 12 km. If power
ordered in a color to match the color of the light pole, is available at the remote end, then the distance will be
while the antenna and fiber-to-RF outdoor box can be limited by the single mode fiber run.
painted for stealthing.
See Figure 5 for an example of the installation. Implementation Notes
A team with a system engineering specialist and an RF
Distributed Antenna System Option engineer will be needed to design this system. A system
Distributed antenna systems make use of telephone vendor usually installs the RF/fiber system and compo-
poles, lamp poles, or other lower height structures that nents. The system installation should follow the standard
do not present any zoning/permitting issues. This system implementation process. The coax cables can be ordered
is basically extending a base station antenna's reach in a color to match the light pole color, and the antennas
where coverage would otherwise be lacking. This system and remote antenna unit box can be painted for stealthing.
is most useful in towns where zoning/permitting is very Some implementation advantages of this method are:
difficult and for areas that are blocked by terrain or buildings.
• A low mobile station transmits power throughout
most of the coverage area.
• There is flexible traffic capacity planning and ease
As shown in Figure 6, the RF path is sampled at the
of future system/traffic capacity expansion.
antenna port of the base station and sent to an optical
• Strong protection is provided against blocking from
hub located at the base station. This RF signal is first
uncoordinated mobiles.
converted to data stream and then converted to optical
• There is low environmental impact of electronic
signals. The optical signals are sent along optical chan-
equipment and antennas.
nels to the remote antenna system, where the optical sig-
nals are reconverted to RF and transmitted over a low- Two implementation concerns are:
gain small omni antenna.
• Power must be available to the remote antenna unit.
Each hub can support 20 to 24 remote antenna units.
• Overlap must be minimized.
This means that 24 remote antenna units can be simul-
casting at the same time to extend the base station's
reach into uncovered areas. The manufacturers indicate
that more hubs can be daisy chained to support many

Ant Ant Ant

Rx Tx/Rx Tx/Rx

RX BP Duplex Duplex




Rx Tx Rx
Cable Cable Cable Cable

Figure 7. Simplex TMA Figure 8. Duplex TMA Figure 9. Dual Duplex TMA

December 2002 • Volume 1, Number 1 43

Diagram Showing Connectivity of Different TMAs



Dual Polarized
Dual Polarized Antenna


RX BP Duplex Duplex RX BP
Simplex Duplex Dual Duplex



di gi ta l
d gi ta l

di gi t a l


Use of Simplex TMA Use of Duplex TMA Use of Dual Duplex


Figure 10. TMA Usage Diagram

44 Bechtel Telecommunications Technical Journal

TMA SOLUTION - 4 Care must be taken to utilize TMAs properly. A good
rule of thumb for using a TMA is when the maximum

T MAs can extend the range of the uplink of cell sites

into areas that would otherwise lack coverage with
comparatively very little additional cost. They are typically
power of the BTS is greater than the balanced output
power of the BTS. That way, additional Tx power is avail-
able to balance the link when the uplink signal is
low noise amplifiers with band pass filters, duplexers, increased by the TMA.
and dc blocks. Here are some guidelines for using TMAs:
TMAs are normally used to enhance the receive signal
• Feeder loss greater than 3 dB
strength at the antenna where the uplink signal is weak.
• BTS maximum power greater than BTS balanced
Installation of a TMA leads to:
output power
• A decrease in dropped calls • Weak receiver signal strength at the BTS
• An increase in in-building coverage
• An increase in in-car coverage LEAKY COAX SOLUTION - 5
• A decrease in output power of the mobile, and
hence an increase in battery life
TMAs can be used to optimize networks, which might
A lthough leaky coax cable is used mostly for tunnels
and indoor applications, there could be two viable
options for this solution. One option is based on one
result in a decrease in the number of base stations microcell located in the middle of the town, with two leaky
where there is some difficulty in obtaining additional sites. coax cables run from the center of the town to the town
There are basically three types of TMAs: edges. The other solution is based on two microcells
1. Simplex TMA (Figure 7) is basically a low noise installed at the town limits, with two leaky coax cables
amplifier. It amplifies the receive signal at the run from the town edges to the center of the town.
antenna. This type of TMA is used in the receive
direction only, where the signal at the antenna is Central Option Configuration
weak enough to cause dropped calls or is close to A 5W microcell should be set up in the middle of the
the receiver threshold. This is connected to a sepa- town at the base of the light pole. A splitter will split the
rate antenna port. signal into two ½-in. coax jumper cables, which will run
2. Duplex TMA (Figure 8) allows separated transmit up to 10 feet on the light pole to connect the microcell
and receive feeder cables to be connected to the with 7/8-in. leaky coax cables suspended horizontally
same antenna port, thus eliminating the require- from the light poles. Two 7/8-in. leaky coax cables will
ment for additional antenna ports or antennas. cover up to 1,200 feet via the light poles to the edges of
3. Dual duplex TMA (Figure 9) allows a combined the town. Link budgets can be calculated similar to those
Tx/Rx cable to be used at both ends of the TMA, presented in previous sections.
which decreases the number of cables and antennas.
Implementation Notes
Figure 10 illustrates sample connections for TMAs. The RF planning engineer should design this system. A
special implementation plan should be developed that
Configuration includes the leaky coax installation on the light poles and
If the system link budget is uplink limited and trans- the stealthing requirements. The microcell outdoor cabi-
mission line losses are higher than 3 dB, one TMA should net can be painted for stealthing. See Figure 11 for an
be installed on each of the sites adjacent to the town cell example of the installation.
sites. This allows an increase in the output power of the
respective BTSs. This, in turn, increases cell site coverage. Edge Option Configuration
Once a TMA is installed, it cancels the receive trans- Two 5W microcells should be set up at the base of the
mission cable loss but adds 1 dB to the BTS receive noise light poles beyond the town limits. Two ½-in. coax jumper
figure and 0.5 dB to the insertion loss. If each of the sites cables will run up to 10 feet on the light pole to connect the
increases its coverage by 800 yards, the town will be cov- microcells with the respective 7/8-in. leaky coax cables
ered by both cell sites with some overlap. suspended horizontally from the light poles. Two 7/8-in.
leaky coax cables will run up to 1,200 feet on the light
Implementation Notes poles to the center of the town. Link budgets can be cal-
A team with a system engineering specialist and an RF culated similar to those presented in previous sections.
engineer will be needed to design this system. The sys-
tem installation should follow the standard implementa- Implementation Notes
tion process. There are no stealthing requirements, The RF planning engineer should design this system. A
because TMAs will be installed on the cell sites beyond special implementation plan should be developed that
the town limits. includes the leaky coax installation on the light poles.
Where possible, avoid using TMAs where the feeder There are no stealthing requirements, because both
loss is less than 3 to 4 dB. The reason for this is that in- microcells are installed outside the town limits.
band interference will be amplified with the incoming signal See Figure 12 for an example of the installation.
and deteriorate the sensitivity of the receiver in the BTS.

December 2002 • Volume 1, Number 1 45

Figure 11. Leaky Coax Central Option Solution

Figure 12. Leaky Coax Edge Option Solution

46 Bechtel Telecommunications Technical Journal


T he examples show that many methods can be used to

solve a particular coverage deficiency problem. Some
solutions are better suited to a particular situation than
others. Therefore, the more methods that are available to
an RF planning team, the more flexibility the team has in
the design, and the more optimal their design can be
from the standpoint of cost and coverage.
Although these methods are not being used to design
entire networks and cannot be used as a single standard
application, there is a place for each in the system.
Moreover, the individual flexibility of these methods, as
well as their combined flexibility brings value to any pro-
fessional RF network and operations.

Aleksey Kurochkin is
currently director, Wire-
less Planning, in the
Bechtel Telecommuni-
cations Technology group,
a group that he originat-
ed. Aleksey has experi-
ence in international
te l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s
business management
and network implemen-
tation. Between engi-
Aleksey Kurochkin neering and marketing
positions, he has both
theoretical and hands-on experience with most wireless
technologies. Aleksey came to Bechtel from Hughes
Network Systems, where he built an efficient multi-product
team focused on RF planning and system engineering.
Aleksey is an electrical engineer, specializing in
telecommunications and information systems, with an
MSEE/CS degree from Moscow Technology University.
Acknowledgment: Figures 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were
created by Mustapha Mohammed, formerly associated
with Bechtel Telecommunications.

December 2002 • Volume 1, Number 1 47