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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, VOL.

10, 65–71 (1997)

EVALUATION OF A TERRAIN-BASED POINT-TO-POINT PROPAGATION MODEL IN THE 900 MHz BAND
f. lazarakis*, a. a. alexandridis, k. dangakis and p. kostarakis
Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications, N.C.S.R. “Demokritos”, Greece

and g. s. tombras
Laboratory of Electronics, Department of Physics, University of Athens, Greece

SUMMARY The accuracy of a semi-empirical point-to-point propagation model, based on terrain data information close to the receiver, is tested. The evaluation is performed through extended transmission loss measurements taken in an urban environment (Athens region) in the 900 MHz band. The prediction error is calculated for each measurement point and coordinated with detailed terrain information. Specifically, the evaluation of the model is separately performed for various categories of measurement data with respect to the measurement point’s effective height and line-of-sight conditions. ©1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Int. J. Commun. Syst., 10, 65–71 (1997) No. of Figures: 5 key words: No. of Tables: 3 No. of References: 9

mobile communications; propagation model; terrain database

1. INTRODUCTION Mobile radio prediction models have been studied for over 40 years as a topic of special interest in the area of mobile communications. The development of reliable prediction models has been proved to be essential for designing and installing a mobile cellular radio system, especially for areas characterized by non-uniform terrain and environmental features. To achieve this end the acquisition of field strength or signal loss measurements is necessary for studying the impact of a mobile environment on signal variations. During the past, the use of terrain and environmental databases, updated for a specific area, has been addressed as a necessity for the detailed analysis of signal variations.1–5 In References 4 and 5 the employment of a geographical information system (GIS) has been presented for the coordination of measured signal values with detailed topographical data, forming a propagation and topographical information database. The integrated procedure had been proved to be particularly user-friendly, offering simplicity in estimating crucial propagation parameters. On the basis of extended measurements in the 900 MHz band, taken in the region of Athens, a semi-empirical model had been developed for the specific area.5 In this paper, we examine the validity of the

above-mentioned semi-empirical model by processing and statistical analysis of propagation measurements that form a second set of data, for the same test area and the transmitting antenna located at a different site. Moving the transmitting antenna to a new location, every reception point has a totally new path profile. Nevertheless, building environmental characteristics and other parameters related to the specific urban environment remain unchanged. The aim of the processing of the new data set is, first, to test the accuracy and applicability of the previously mentioned prediction model. Second, to enrich the available signal measurements set for extensive statistical analysis and improvement of the prediction model for the region of Athens. A summary of the results presented in Reference 5 is given in Section 2 where the data that were used for the derivation of the propagation model will be referred to as the first set of measurements. Moreover, the criteria to be used in this paper for the evaluation of the model are set out at the end of the section. The detailed evaluation of the model by means of the new (second) data set is analysed in Section 3. 2. OVERVIEW OF THE FIRST SET OF MEASUREMENTS Propagation measurements are obtained by means of a measuring system. This consists of a mobile unit for signal reception and the recording and storage of instantaneous signal power values. Throughout the measuring procedure, loss deviation, local Received December 1996 Revised February 1997

*Correspondence to: F. Lazarakis, Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications, N.C.S.R ‘Demokritas’, GR-153 10, Aghia Paraskeui, Athens, Greece. Email: fotisl@iit.nrcps.ariadne-t.gr

CCC 1074–5351/97/020065–07 $17.50 © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Throughout this paper. SECOND SET OF MEASUREMENTS— MODEL EVALUATION A second set of propagation measurements has been obtained for the same region of Athens. Following the developed model. based on terrain data and without environmental information. 10. A comparison of actual and predicted median transmission loss versus propagation distance is depicted in Figure 1. it can readily be seen that the propagation path profiles of the new measurement points are different from those of the first set of measurements. Comparison of measured and predicted loss for the total of measurement points of the first data set model. i. Figure 3 depicts a comparison of the median transmission loss (versus propagation © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons. as described in Reference 4.e. indicating the general trend of the model to overestimate (negative value of average prediction error) or underestimate (positive value of average prediction error) path loss. at 888 MHz. based on the utilization of a GIS and digital maps of the area under study.838 measurement points was taken.7 An analytical expression for effective height estimation using terrain morphology data. A parameter that best describes local topographical features close to the receiver is the effective transmission antenna height or the socalled. lazarakis et al. measured loss minus predicted loss. Nevertheless. 65–71 (1997) . an unmodulated carrier. close to the receiver. The threedimensional terrain elevation map of the area under study is shown in Figure 2. urban environment and traffic effects are embodied as an average factor for the specific mobile environment. Furthermore. The measuring set-up configuration was kept identical to the one for the first set of data on purpose. 3. A total of 16. Syst. Measurement data collection. This model is based on detailed topographical information in order to return a prediction value for each measurement point. Ltd. with the transmitting antenna installed at a new location. 2. the detailed evaluation of models is usually performed through the calculation of prediction error.. For negative heff values. The proposed point-to-point prediction model. therefore includes two expressions: loss (dB) = 31·52 + 40 log( d ) − 20 log( heff ). an average error of 0·8 dB and a standard deviation of 9·73 dB have been obtained. mean. A different manipulation of measurement points relative to the heff sign. the expression for loss prediction is a proper modification of the standard Lee’s model8 in order to apply for the specific area. the whole procedure makes it easy to produce loss curves and derive predicted loss for each measurement point. topographical information together with local mean value. where the old and the new site of the transmitting antenna are indicated. A total of 18. Commun. acquisition and processing have been implemented using an integrated system. plays an important role in propagation loss. the statistical analysis is given in terms of average and standard deviation of the prediction error. should thus be established. was transmitted from an appropriately sited base unit.351 measurement points was obtained. h eff Ͻ 0 (1b) (1a) Figure 1. Therefore. Moreover. The standard deviation of the prediction error represents the model’s deficiencies if the systematical error is removed. covering an area extending up to 6 km from the transmitting antenna. although the model does not take into account obstructions that interrupt line-ofsight (LOS) from the receiver. introduced in Reference 5. appear with a standard deviation of error in the range from 6 dB up to 12 dB. a semi-empirical point-to-point prediction model has been derived. a negative heff value practically means a non-line-of-sight (NLOS) path because of local terrain morphology and high slope values. it is noticed that current models. Derivation of the prediction model Based on the signal loss measurements obtained from the procedure described above. for each reception point. effective height ( heff ). The system operates in full coordination with a GIS. loss prediction is obtained through curve fitting of the appropriate measurement points. can be found in Reference 5. In Reference 9. The average prediction error represents the systematical error induced by the Int. its accuracy proves that terrain morphology. J. Considering the model under discussion. heff Ͼ 0 and loss (dB) = 55 + 20 log( d ) + 10 log( ͉heff͉ ). providing. Considering the definition of heff. and thus it is based on a two-ray model. For positive heff values. for each measurement point. of known and fixed power. Following the guidelines in Reference 6.1.66 f. median transmission loss and location variability information are available. where d and heff are measured in meters.

large terrain obstructions that lie far from the receiver and interrupt line-of-sight causing diffraction loss were not taken into consideration in the derivation of the model. At this point it should be noted that. The column ‘Counts’ indicates the number of the corresponding measurements in each category whereas their percentage with respect to the total measurement points. For NLOS locations. In comparison with the corresponding error values of the first set. The following analysis. hereafter. by means of the available terrain database. the average error increases by 3·9 dB and the standard deviation increases by 2 dB. will refer only to terrain morphology and not to obstructions by buildings or other human-made structures. LOS and NLOS. In Table 1. the average error increases by 4·6 dB whereas the standard deviation decreases by 0·6 dB. 10. with a 10 m step for each measurement point. in an urban environment such as the area under study. Comparison of measured and predicted loss for the total of measurement points of the second data set distance) between measured and predicted loss values. 65–71 (1997) . The resultant average error is found to be −1·62 dB and the standard deviation equal to 11·02 dB. is shown within parentheses. The evaluation of the © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons. However. Ltd. model is thus performed separately for points with and without diffraction loss. As can be seen. this does not affect the validity of our analysis because terrain morphology plays a major role in all cases in signal propagation. ‘pure’ LOS communication can rarely be found. Syst. both expressed in dB. when applying the model to the new data set for LOS locations. when difInt. Nevertheless. Three-dimensional terrain elevation map of the area under study with indications for the first and the second antenna positions Figure 3. the analysis results for the first set of measurements will be used only as a reference. in terms of average value of prediction error (av) and error standard deviation (stdev). Further investigation and detailed processing of measurements led to useful results. As mentioned above. Evaluation of the model’s performance can then be obtained through prediction error calculation. The evaluation of the model will be performed by means of the second set of measurements. J. Therefore. as well as diffraction phenomena terms. Hereafter. Commun. is based on the detailed projection of the path profile. the reliability of the model has been slightly decreased because the standard deviation of error has been increased by only 1·3 dB.. the accuracy of the model is tested for LOS and NLOS locations for the first and the second set of measurements.propagation model in the 900 MHz band 67 Figure 2.

For the first data set. Next. Int. for LOS paths. Table 3 reveals that. Prediction error for the first and the second set of measurements Path 1st set LOS NLOS 10. 10. an obvious reduction of the model’s accuracy is noticed for locations where diffraction loss exists. indicating that the model fails for this category of measurement points. its value. Table I. distinguished according to LOS and NLOS conditions for both measurement sets in two main categories. Commun. For the second set. the average error is −4. in practice. together with the error standard deviation. This is expected because the model has been derived through curve fitting of measurement points with heff Ͻ 0 without distinction for NLOS and LOS conditions. it can be proved that NLOS locations have a general trend to suffer more attenuation than the corresponding LOS locations. the case of negative heff values. As mentioned in the previous section. J. lazarakis et al. there is a small number of measurements in which.9 The second category includes measurement points with NLOS paths and positive heff values. is investigated. The first category includes the majority of the measurement points. Statistical analysis results are summarized in Table 3 for both measurement sets. This is clearly proved by the statistical analysis for the second set where. locations with NLOS paths are the majority (71·8%) and thus. A further increase for both statistical values is observed for the second set.. loss values with respect to the heff sign and information for LOS and NLOS conditions will be considered in the following paragraphs. because the model has been developed for points with positive heff unifying NLOS and LOS locations. the average error increases by 4·15 dB and standard deviation decreases by 0·35 dB with respect to the first set. loss prediction results in the overestimation of LOS loss and the underestimation of NLOS loss. the model approximates the actual transmission loss for points with negative heff and NLOS conditions pretty well. the average error and standard deviation values indicate a good approximation of actual transmission loss. Prediction error analysis for locations with heff Ͼ 0 heff Ͼ 0 LOS 1st set Counts av (dB) stdev (dB) 9432 (57·6%) −0·39 9·15 2nd set 12.358 (63·4%) 5994 (36·6%) Counts 2nd set 13. However. the average and standard deviation of error show a degradation of the model’s accuracy compared with the first category.68 f. For further testing of the model. the model Table II. Syst. On the other hand. This is verified by the second set of measurements where. Despite the increase of average prediction error. whereas.68 6·13 stdev (dB) 1st set 2nd set 9·42 10·08 8·82 12·18 fraction loss does not exist the standard deviation of prediction error will assume an acceptable value. For these points. Inspecting the analysis results for the first set of measurements in Table 3. locations with positive and negative values of effective height. even for the data for which the model was originally developed (first set). corresponding to LOS locations with positive heff values. In Table 2. LOS paths can occur even for negative heff values. it is 8. for NLOS paths. for LOS and NLOS conditions. For these points belonging to the first data set.507 (71·7%) 5331 (28·3%) av (dB) 1st set 2nd set −0·04 2·24 −4. the model is more accurate for NLOS than for LOS paths.853 (68·2%) −4·54 8·80 1st set 3632 (22·2%) 4·10 10·37 NLOS 2nd set 3590 (19%) 8·81 12·18 © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons. This is expected because the model does not encoun- ter diffraction phenomena for locations with positive heff values. for the case of heff Ͻ 0. under marginal terrain conditions and due to mobile antenna height. Ltd. According to the definition of heff it could be expected that negative heff values occur at shadowed parts of the area under study. 65–71 (1997) . in a different way. Among these points. Therefore.81 dB (loss underestimation). indicates that predicted loss is still in good approximation with measured loss. for LOS paths. statistical analysis results of prediction error are presented for measurements data corresponding to locations with positive heff values. whereas for LOS paths the performance is worse with an absolute increase of the average error by 2·9 dB and of the standard deviation by 2·3 dB. the model under discussion handles.54 dB (loss overestimation).

the application of such algorithms resulted in an unacceptable loss overestimation because a single terrain irregularity is usually taken as a number of isolated edges. Nevertheless. Comparison of measured and predicted loss for points with heff Ͼ 0 and LOS path. is a useful tool to get an insight into the functionality of the system. 4. for designing a mobile cellular system in an urban environment. Syst. In this case. as obtained for the second data set Int. J. a fairly good performance is indicated for points with NLOS conditions with an average error of 0·62 dB and standard deviation of 10·15 dB. When diffraction loss does not exist and effective height has a positive value. In these parts. the evaluation of the model can be summarized as follows. Prediction error analysis for locations with heff Ͻ 0 heff Ͻ 0 LOS 1st set Counts av (dB) stdev (dB) 925 (5·6%) 3·61 11·20 2nd set 654 (3·4%) −7·38 8·83 1st set 2362 (14·4%) −0·62 8·90 NLOS 2nd set 1741 (9·2%) 0·62 10·15 69 overestimates path loss by 7·38 dB. In order to improve the accuracy of the model. as obtained for the second data set © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons. CONCLUSION Evaluation of the model proposed in Reference 5 has been presented based on extensive measurements and statistical analysis of the collected data. by considering the diffraction loss aspects. In conclusion. as obtained for the second set of measurements. we tried to incorporate in it some known diffraction loss algorithms based on multiple knife-edge models (such as the one proposed by ITU).. Commun. When diffraction loss exists and effective height has a negative value. Comparison of measured and predicted loss for points with h eff Ͻ 0 and NLOS path. Ltd. 65–71 (1997) . as obtained for the second set of measurements. 10. for heff Ͻ 0 and NLOS paths. The measurement data were divided into four categories according to effective height sign and characterization of propagation path (LOS or NLOS). a criterion for the selection of base station sites should be the establishment of LOS paths (considering terrain profile) for most parts of the cell. Statisti- Figure 4.5 dB. Further improvement can be achieved by processing only the data that corresponds to heff Ͼ 0 with LOS conditions. Figure 5. equation 1b of the derived model will sufficiently approximate measured transmission loss (average error = 0·62 dB. standard deviation of error = 10·1 dB). A more accurate prediction is expected if detailed path profile information is taken into account. A better approximation of actual transmission losses is expected through the establishment of a more realistic criterion for edge determination and selection.propagation model in the 900 MHz band Table III. In Figure 5(a) comparison of the median transmission loss between measured and predicted loss values is presented. On the other hand. Generally. equation 1a of the derived model will offer a good approximation to actual transmission loss (average error = −4. the majority of the points correspond to positive heff values and thus the model under consideration. standard deviation of error = 8·8 dB). being sufficiently accurate for such signal reception conditions. the model approximates diffraction loss based only on terrain morphology close to the receiver. Figure 4 depicts a comparison of the median transmission loss (versus propagation distance) between measured and predicted loss values for heff Ͼ 0 and LOS paths.

He received the diploma in electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (1973) and the PhD degree from the University of Patras. J. in 1990. respectively. ‘A point-to-point mobile radio prediction model based on effective height estimation for the region of Athens’. and in the presence of diffraction loss when effective height takes a negative value. P. Narrowband Land-mobile Radio Networks. pp 41–46 (1995). a lecturer at the Laboratory of Electronics. digital modulation techniques. Lee. 5. Bojer. Ltd. Dangakis. he worked as an engineer at the Research Center for National Defence. B.70 f. Since 1991. where he was involved in various EC cofunded R&D projects related to mobile communication systems. Mobile Communications Engineering. Since 1977. From 1986 to 1990 he was working on his PhD degree in the Digital Communications Lab of the National Center for Science Research “Demokritos”. 258–262. 7. 4. Antennas and Propagation. 402–407. George S. Tombras. in 1979. His current interests include mobile communications. spread spectrum systems and CDMA techniques. Feistel and A. 9. 2. 274–279. Lee. the MSc degree in electronics from the University of Southampton. Tombras was born in Athens. 1995. Greece. September 1994. Syst. pp. 2. digital modulation techniques. It enables a sufficient approximation of transmission loss in the absence of diffraction loss when terrain morphology forms a positive effective height. and specifically. Andersen. 1993. ch. ‘Coverage prediction for mobile radio systems operating in the 800/900 MHz frequency range’. McGraw Hill. 1. Toftgard and J. Authors’ biographies: Fotis Lazarakis was born in Pireas. T. in 1992. vol. Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC’95). vol. February 1988. propagation models. Greece. He is currently completing his work towards a PhD degree in the area of mobile communications. His Int. Technol. Physics Depart© 1997 by John Wiley & Sons. C. 3. The model is easily implemented in many cases of combined urban and rural environments. C.. Greece in 1962. M. current interests in mobile communications include propagation models. A.1. A. C. REFERENCES 1. a more sophisticated interpretation of terrain data is needed in order to extract the appropriate number of isolated edges to be used by multiple knife-edge models for the prediction of the diffraction loss. and 1988. Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC’94). 5th IEEE International Symposium on Personal. digital modulation and data transmission techniques. Further investigation of diffraction phenomena is needed for the case of distant terrain obstructions along the path profile. IEEE Trans. 8. and from 1989 to 1991. Toronto. 2nd edn. He has been project leader of several mobile communications R&D projects. Y. F. From 1974 to 1976. J. 37 (1). 43 (1). Baier. ‘Terrainbased propagation model for rural area – an integral equation approach’. first as an R&D engineer in the Digital Communications Laboratory R&D projects (Stimulation project. New York. His current interests include mobile communications and. pp. Alexandridis and G. being reasonably accurate.. From 1981 to 1989 he was a teaching and research assistant. Esprit II FCPN project) and now as a researcher in the Mobile Communications Laboratory. pp. He graduated from the Department of Physics. Artech House Inc. Kostas P. Dangakis. 1981. Veh. Since 1991 he has been with the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications of the NCSR “Demokritos”. Greece in 1950. 6th IEEE International Symposium on Personal. UK. he has been a researcher at the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications of the National Center for Science Research “Demokritos”. Greece. G. 2. 6. S. ch. 3. Artech House Inc.. Greece in 1968. working on adaptive delta modulation techniques. specifically. 1993. 2. ‘Performance of a three-dimensional propagation model in urban environments’. Linnartz. School of Electrical Engineering (1984). Moreover. 16. F. and the PhD degree from the University of Patras. During 1985–86. Alexandridis and G. Since 1991 he has been with the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications of the National Center for Science Research “Demokritos”. 4. Athens. He received the diploma in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Patras. John Wiley and Sons Inc. spread spectrum systems and CDMA techniques. S. School of Electrical Engineering. Mobile Communications Design Fundamentals. ch. Dangakis was born in Kavala.. 1982. ‘Field measurements and coverage prediction model evaluation based on a geographical information system’. 5th IEEE International Symposium on Personal. and the PhD degree from the Physics Department of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. the information on the terrain morphology close to the receiver has to be taken into account because the above analysis proved its importance in the total propagation loss.. September 1994. He received the BSc degree in physics from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. in 1985. Greece. K. Alexandridis was born in Rovies. Antonis A. diversity techniques and fading channels capacity. Athens. From 1990 to 1991 he was on sabbatical leave at the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications of the National Center for Science Research “Demokritos”. 10. vol. J. 65–71 (1997) . In particular. Hviid. Lazarakis. Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC’94). Lazarakis. he served his military service as a research assistant at the Research Center for National Defence. New York 1993. Tombras. 1. Land Mobile Radio System Engineering. Athens. lazarakis et al. and is now head of the Mobile Communications Laboratory. Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. Y. Physics Department. J. first as a postgraduate student and now as a researcher in mobile communications R&D projects. Greece in 1956. During this period he was involved with the design and development of hardware and simulation software in order to evaluate a CDMA voice communication network. cal analysis of the prediction error for each category was performed. he has been Assistant Professor at the Laboratory of Electronics. W. J. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Hess. Commun. during his military service. IEEE Trans. ch. W. K.

he joined “Demokritos” in 1985. Greece. and the Helenic Physicists Association. analogue and digital circuits and systems. Dr Kostarakis is actively involved in testing and type approval and he is Lloyd’s registered auditor for ISO 9000 and a member of the total quality forum. Int. Syst. 65–71 (1997) .propagation model in the 900 MHz band ment. Dr Kostarakis graduated in physics from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki and got his PhD from the University of Strasbourg. Dr Tombras is a member of IEEE. “Demokritos”. J.. His current interests include mobile communications. in Athens. Switzerland. as well as electro-acoustics and audio engineering. 10. Commun. in Geneva. Panos Kostarakis is research director at the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications at the Greek National Research Center. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons. AES. CERN. After 10 years of working experience in fast electronics and computers in the Eur- 71 opean Research Center. University of Athens. Ltd.