Here I write LTE network first step. For LTE planning it is important to know what available spectrum bandwidth to operator is and what actual frequency band allocation.

Understanding Operator Spectrum Bandwidth Availability

The purpose of detail planning is to determine a solid radio network design for possible deployment so radio engineer should not be using detail planning as a mean to determine or compare the network capacity offering between 5MHz, 10MHz, 15MHz or 20MHz bandwidth.

However, it is generally true downtown area would require higher bandwidth (15MHz or 20MHz) due to higher traffic requirement while rural and/or suburban area may only require smaller bandwidth (10MHz). Further issues need clarifications include

  • Spectrum availability and time frame e.g. will operator buy more spectrum in same band, different band.
  • Will operator need to perform migration or reframing of 2G/3G technologies first before spectrum is available for LTE
  • Any government plan for Spectrum recovery (e.g. swapping operator current spectrum to another band)
  • Any spectrum licenses restrictions (e.g. Spectrum only available within 100km from City center)
  • Will the entire network be running on the same frequency spectrum (e.g. City is 2.6G but countryside is 800)

Too often proposals are based on wrong assumptions on spectrum and the available bandwidth that will be used for new network deployment which results in a significant cost and work implications.

Actual Frequency Band Allocation for LTE

Similar to spectrum bandwidth availability, radio planners need to know which band is to be given for their network.

The final frequency band granted will have a significant impact on site count and hence overall project cost due to the propagation and pathloss characteristics of different frequency bands.

The same five questions/issues raised in “Understanding Operator Spectrum Bandwidth Availability” also need to be clarified here if it has not be done so before any detail planning activities are to begin.

It is also worth noting here although the bits/Hz value will not change with different frequency band (i.e. per cell capacity is bandwidth not frequency band dependent), the final capacity offer by the network will be different due to the coverage requirement. This is mainly because the final site count is more likely to be determined by coverage requirement and the capacity offered by the network is the product of site count x capacity per site.