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The A-Z of RF Path Analysis

The A-Z of RF Path Analysis

3 June 2015 | Reading Time: 2 minutes

What Is RF Path Analysis?

A RF (Radio Frequency) path analysis is an important process in the design of a radio communications channel or wireless system.

The RF path analysis helps a designer understand the losses and gains in the path and allows them to determine many contributing elements, such as the transmitter power and antenna designs, including their gain, height and general location.

When Is RF Path Analysis Used?

The RF path loss affects other elements such as the required receiver sensitivity, the form of transmission used and several other factors. As a result, it is necessary to understand RF path analysis, and to determine the levels of the signal loss for a given radio path.

Analysis is undertaken when preparing coverage or system design, and relies on knowledge of the signal propagation properties. RF path loss calculations often use wireless survey tools for determining signal strength at various locations. Because the investment in a macrocell base station is so high, these coverage surveys are particularly important for wireless network providers..

A fundamental goal of a RF path analysis is to establish the loss in a RF path.

There are many reasons for RF path loss.

They include:

Absorption losses

which occur when radio signals pass through a medium which is not totally transparent to RF signals.

Atmospheric losses

which affect RF signals by reflecting or refracting signals back to Earth.

Buildings and other obstacles

that reflect radio signals, and will also absorb them. RF communications are often significantly impaired within buildings. Trees and foliage can attenuate radio signals, particularly when wet.

Diffraction losses

which occur when an signal diffracts around an object in the path. The loss is higher the more rounded the object. Radio signals tend to diffract better around sharp edges.

Free space loss

which occurs as the signal travels through space without any other effects attenuating the signal. This can be thought of as the RF signal spreading out as an ever increasing sphere like ripples on a pond.

Multipath losses

which occur as signals are reflected and reach the receiver via a number of different paths. These signals may add or subtract from each other depending upon the relative phases of the signals.

Terrain losses

which occur as the signal travels over different terrains. Hill and mountains which obstruct the path will considerably attenuate the signal, often making reception impossible.

These reasons represent some of the major elements of path loss that need to be established and evaluated in a RF path analysis.

If your interested in looking at how radio transmission works and the technical considerations involved; why not consider the CommScope Training [SP6500] RF Wireless Infrastructure Fundamentals Course?

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