When you are planning for LTE network then two points also needs to take care frequency band reframing requirement and location of operator coverage requirement for LTE network. Let’s check both in detail.
Frequency Band Reframing Requirement for LTE
Some of the most popular questions from operator these days are
- How they can perform reframing?
- When is the best time?
- How much spectrum do they need?
For radio planners, answers to these questions are highly variable and every network will be different due to their current capacity status, growth forecast, marketing strategies and even management preferences to showcase their technological leadership or not. As a result, it is recommended until a clear vision is obtained from operator for all 3 questions listed above, no detail network design activities should begin.
In case where LTE is to be introduced after spectrum reframing, the following items will need to be considered carefully prior to detail network design:
- Any co-location with Existing Technology (2G/3G)?
- Guard Band in place already? If not, Guard band spectrum availability?
- Additional passive equipment/path loss introduced due to possible equipment swap out (e.g. antennae change, jumper cable, coupler or splitter addition) to enable co-sitting with existing technology (CDMA/GSM/UMTS)
- Changes in Hardware which will lead to path loss changes.
- Extra workload requirement due to reframing which may have human resources impact (e.g. require GSM planning).
Location of Operator Coverage Requirement
It is critical to have the proposed LTE site locations correspond to where it can best serve the designated traffic area and traffic type. In developed markets, high subscriber density and high usage is expected for dense urban and city area, hence it is normal to have more site count being allocated to dense urban/urban environment.
Currently, there is also a big push in Europe for white spot (rural) wireless DSL coverage in Europe DD spectrum based on LTE. Therefore, different operators will have different focus on traffic requirement.
In general, high subscriber density area are most likely made up of users with low mobility so the emphasis on site placement for dense urban is more critical and it is important to be closer to users in high traffic area. On the other hand, in rural and highway condition, users are likely to be of lower usage and of higher speed so maximizing coverage through site antenna height or higher terrain is more important.
In summary, radio planning engineers need to have a good understanding of where operator traffic will be in order to allocate an appropriate distribution of base stations. This allocation can be affected by such factors as indoor penetration margin and slow fading margin in the link budget. If operator focus is just in covering dense urban area, it will be inappropriate to design a radio network with solid coverage everywhere (suburban/rural alike) where operator do not appreciate the value or return on their investment.