What is Ec/Io (and Eb/No)?

If someone asks you "Which Signal Level for good call quality: -80 dbm or -90 dBm?" Beware, if you respond quickly, you might end up missing. This is because the correct answer is ... it depends! The Signal Strength is a very important and essential measure for any technology (GSM, CDMA, UMTS, LTE, etc.). However, it is not the only one: let's talk a little today about another magnitude, equally important: the Signal Noise Ratio. Although this ratio is of fundamental importance to any cellular system, is not well understood by many professionals. On the opposite side, professionals with a good understanding of this ratio are able for example, to correctly assess the RF links, and also to perform more extensive optimizations, obtaining the best possible performance of the system. So, let's see a little about it?

Eb and No
To begin, we define the basic concepts of Eb and No. They are basic for any digital communication system, and generally we talk about it when we deal with Bit Error Rate and also Modulation techniques. Simply put: • •
Eb: Bit Energy. o It represents the amount of energy per bit. No: Noise Spectral Density. o Unit: Watts/Hz (or mWatts/Hz)

Which brings us to the classic definition of Eb/No: •
Eb/No: Bit Energy on the Spectral Noise Density. o Unit: dB

It did not help much, does it? Do not worry. Indeed, only with the theoretical definition is still very difficult to see how this ratio is used, or how it can be measured. But okay, let's walk a little further.

Okay, so how is Eb/No measured?
To understand how this ratio can be measured, let's imagine a simple digital communication system.

a concept that could be explored here . As always. In other words. These curves are used as follows: for a certain RF signal. but as we talked about it. QPSK. and that it is due to the process of amplification and processing of signal. Depending on the modulation technique used (BPSK. let's continue with our signal to noise ratio.is the Noise Figure. But now. etc. if you wish. which is the bit errors rate that I have? Is this bit error rate acceptable for my system? Whereas the gain that digital has.The ratio Eb/No is measured at the receiver. Okay? For example.since we are talking about digital communication system . we can theoretically determine how the performance would be for the digital link. and other even more complex. in order to have each service (Voice/Data) operating acceptably. Concepts like this. we try to introduce to you the most simplified possible through the use of examples and simple concepts. can be studied. Eb/No -> Ec/Io .) we have different curves for Bit Error Rate x Eb/No. just understand as a noise level that every receiver has. Note: it is worth remembering here that this is a very complex subject. and serves to indicate how strong the signal is. But we do not want to repeat here all the theory explained in the University. Nor was it to have mentioned the noise figure here. then we can set a minimum criterion of signal to noise ratio.

: Energy are the power points in time. including yourself setor. For example. where k = number of bits per symbol. Io: Interference is the Broadband. therefore related to the measure or 'length' of the time (the average power is independent of time ).do not confuse it with the sinal (average) power. Es = 2 * Eb. where k = 2. which is a measure of evaluation and decisions of CDMA and UMTS.. But today we are talking specifically to Ec/Io. several formulas can be derived with different numerators and denominators. where differences in technologies are applied. Eb/Nt. For example. etc. In the receiver. . Ec and Es. To proceed. . We only mention a few concepts. etc. respectively relating to Bit Chip and Symbol in different times.and thus recovering the base narrowband signal. Note: all the technology uses signal-interference ratio. such as the definitions of capacity of an AWGN channel. related. and only the main. Again. Es = Eb * k. the air. differences in translations/countries. In red.. in GSM. And spreads through the middle (air). this point is quite delicate. b. E: is the signal (average) energy . o Noise generated by the RF components of the system. • • • • No: Spectral Density of Noise. However. In QPSK modulation. it becomes easier to understand the concepts by observing a simplified diagram of Spread Spectrum Modulation. it is not our purpose here today. o Hence it comes Eb. This signal is spread and transmitted. Note: With these concepts. .. in transmitter have a narrowband signal with data or voice modulated.The concept of Eb/No applies to any digital communication system. among others. as we enter a conceptual area where we have differences between authors. we use C/I.using the same sequence that was spread . And the derivations of formulas can reach far more complex equations. and further deductions for equivalences (Ec/No. we must know some more definitions. c. Interfering co-channel. Let's try to define in a generic way. As we are speaking of codes.. s. the signal is despread .).

and talk a little about the values of these indicators and their use in practice. But it can also vary with the environment (urban. application type. let's stop with the issues and concepts. so will the other . Eb/No Positive and Ec/Io Negative? In terms of values. It is measured at the output of receiver (NodeB. use of power control. then also are good levels for the traffic channels for our call in this sector. Otherwise: for CDMA interference is like a noise. after the basics are understood. etc). What happens is that for practical purposes. and talking logarithmicly. So let's keep today in ratios most common: Eb/No and Ec/Io. It is primarily a parameter related to the manufacturer for different bearers (based on the channel model). Likewise. then the value is negative. if the pilot channel is degraded. It is measured at the input of receiver (NodeB. diversity. Okay. which is spread across the spectrum: then we have negative value to the ratio of energy on the total noise (the energy is lower than the Total Interference). we are actually referring to Ec/(Io + No). Why should we use Ec/Io? A more natural question would be: why we can not simply use the Signal Strength measured by the mobile as a guide for operations such as handover? The answer is simple: the measured signal level corresponds to the Total RF power All cells that the mobile sees. it is in the baseband after despreading and decoded only for one user . So we need another quick and simple measure that allows us to evaluate the contribution of each sector individually. Regarding Eb/No. We have Ec/Io in the air. Note: An important observation is that often when we refer to Ec/Io.noting that theoretical approaches can be done more easily later. if any ratio is less than 1. UE.Then come back to the practical level . positive. If greater than 1. And now we can begin to define Ec/Io. etc. UE. on the Spectral Density of Noise. We used to measure the pilot channel signal of each sector to assess the quality: if the level of the pilot is good.then we have a positive amount of energy over the total noise. one of the most important systems in CDMA and UMTS. speed. then both can be considered the same thing. etc). As we defined Eb/No is the Average Energy of a bit signal. we only have Ec/Io. suburban). because the interference is much stronger and the noise can be neglected.. rural.

but it's easier to understand talking about each one separately. the Ec/Io is the final composition of all these factors simultaneously (Composite Ec/Io). The Ec/Io varies with several factors. Suppose in our example we have a pilot channel power setting of 2 W. and traffic channels. Change in Ec/Io according to the Sector Traffic Load Each sector transmits a certain power. and it is best to avoid using the traffic channels in this sector. we have a pilot channel. and a power of other control channels also fixed at 2 W. Thus we have: Ec = 2 W Io = 0 + 2 + 2 = 4 W Ec/Io = (2/4) = 0. To make it easier to understand. Of course. such as the Traffic Load and and RF Scenario. some other control channels such as paging. we calculate the Ec/Io (pilot channel power to total power) of this sector in a situation where we have no busy traffic channel (0 W). UMTS and CDMA systems. .5 = -3 dB Now assume that several traffic channels are busy (eg use 6 W for traffic channels).channels (including traffic) be. This is a situation of traffic load. we'll see how is Ec/Io.

25 = -6 dB Whereas a signal coming from this sector in the mobile at level of -90 dBm (Io = -90 dBm). with only one server sector (dominant).6 db) = -96 dBm. the ratio Ec/Io is about the same initially transmitted. Ec/Io = (2/8) = 0. Considering first a situation without external interference.2 = -7 dB Conclusion: As the traffic load in the sector increases. Change in Ec/Io according to the scenario RF According to the RF scenario .Ec = 2 W Io = 2 + 2 + 6 = 10 W Ec/Io = (2/10) = 0. . some or many servers sectors we can also take various measures to Ec/Io. we have Ec = -90 dBm + (. the Ec/Io worsens.a single server sector.

Let us now consider another situation. the Ec/Io worsens. Thus: Ec/Io = -96 . azimuth). But what are the practical values? . Okay.the mobile sees them all at once . And the power of our pilot channel remains the same (Ec = -96 dBm). all with the same level of -90 dBm). and with the same level of signal is known as Pilot Pollution .each acting as interferer to each other. This situation where we have many overlapping sectors. by setting power parameters or physical adjustments (tilt. we have five sectors signal arriving at the mobile (for simplicity. Now have Io = -83 dBm (which is the sum of five signals of -90 dBm). Instead of one. And now also understand the measure Ec/Io as the ratio of 'good' energy over 'bad' energy. or 'cleaness' of signal. leaving just dominant signals which should exist at this problematic place. especially in handover decisions. the measurement of Ec/Io which is very important in the analysis. The solution in such cases is to eliminate unwanted signals.(-83) = -13 dB Conclusion: As many more sectors serves the mobile. and what are typical values? We have seen that for CDMA and UMTS systems.

And the Signal to Noise Ratio for other technologies? The ratio Ec/Io is the most commonly used to assess the condition of energy over interference.can further help you become an expert on the subject. and considering them 'good'. you can not connect. we are saying that energy is below the Noise (and still have a good situation). even if you have a good signal level. Anyway. Conclusion Today we had a brief introduction on the Ec/Io ratio. a measurement for decisions in CDMA and UMTS. values of Ec/Io for a good evaluation of the network (in terms of this indicator) are shown in the diagram below. as well as any wireless signal. the content displayed serves as an excellent reference. where we use the C/I. A composite Ec/Io ~ . this is a topic for another tutorial.for any technology. Note: See we are talking about negative values. If the value starts to get too low. Note. but applies only in technologies that use codes (Ec). . But the concepts understood here to CDMA and UMTS are very similar . This is a characteristic of the system itself. In other words. or the call will drop constantly. we saw today Ec/Io. I hope you've managed to understand how the Ec/Io is important for CDMA and UMTS. that this matter is very complex. especially if you're not familiar with the concept of signal over noise for CDMA and UMTS.apply . and used togheter with the measured Signal Strength.10 db is a reasonable value to consider as good. In situations where Ec/Io is very low (high negative number). or can not connect. first we need to worry in enhancing the weak signal. you start to have dropped calls.The value of Ec/Io fluctuates (varies). Another typical situation: if the measured Ec/Io is very low. eg GSM. But what then is a good range of Ec/Io for a sign? In practical terms. and supplementary reading books and internet . and the signal level too (also high negative number). however. and Ec/Io 'most negative' or 'less negative' is going to allow assessment of the communication. Anyway.

and focuses on how best to evaluate the pilot channel signal is desired. Returning to our original question: A strong signal level does not necessarily indicate an strong Ec/Io: it depends on the level of interference . on the Spectral Density of Noise + Interference. which somehow ignores the overall strength of the signal. in relation to noise that interferes with it.We have seen that it represents the ratio of signal energy within the duration of a chip of the pilot channel. This is a very important measure.

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