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# 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?

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

among others. in transmitter have a narrowband signal with data or voice modulated. in GSM..using the same sequence that was spread . But now. Ec and Es. o Noise generated by the RF components of the system. and only the main. o Hence it comes Eb. if you wish. let's continue with our signal to noise ratio. therefore related to the measure or 'length' of the time (the average power is independent of time ).: Energy are the power points in time. c. However. . where differences in technologies are applied. respectively relating to Bit Chip and Symbol in different times. the signal is despread . etc. s.. we must know some more definitions. But today we are talking specifically to Ec/Io. and other even more complex. Note: all the technology uses signal-interference ratio. .do not confuse it with the sinal (average) power. And spreads through the middle (air).  Io: Interference is the Broadband. In the receiver. For example.  No: Spectral Density of Noise. we use C/I. Eb/No -> Ec/Io The concept of Eb/No applies to any digital communication system. it becomes easier to understand the concepts by observing a simplified diagram of Spread Spectrum Modulation. differences in translations/countries. as we enter a conceptual area where we have differences between authors.and thus recovering the base narrowband signal. this point is quite delicate.  E: is the signal (average) energy . Let's try to define in a generic way. This signal is spread and transmitted. which is a measure of evaluation and decisions of CDMA and UMTS. including yourself setor. In red.  b. Interfering co-channel.Concepts like this. As we are speaking of codes. the air. can be studied. To proceed.

. related. It is primarily a parameter related to the manufacturer for different bearers (based on the channel model). it is in the baseband after despreading and decoded only for one user - then we have a positive amount of energy over the total noise. etc. It is measured at the output of receiver (NodeB. And now we can begin to define Ec/Io. If greater than 1. on the Spectral Density of Noise. speed. We only mention a few concepts. Regarding Eb/No.. UE. So let's keep today in ratios most common: Eb/No and Ec/Io. several formulas can be derived with different numerators and denominators. where k = number of bits per symbol. we only have Ec/Io. let's stop with the issues and concepts. use of power control. after the basics are understood. Eb/Nt. As we defined Eb/No is the Average Energy of a bit signal. What happens is that for practical purposes. Es = 2 * Eb. application type. Eb/No Positive and Ec/Io Negative? In terms of values. Then come back to the practical level . Again.noting that theoretical approaches can be done more easily later. Note: An important observation is that often when we refer to Ec/Io. suburban). etc). then the value is negative.Note: With these concepts. 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? . because the interference is much stronger and the noise can be neglected. positive. Otherwise: for CDMA interference is like a noise. diversity. . if any ratio is less than 1. Okay. But it can also vary with the environment (urban. where k = 2. and talking logarithmicly. and further deductions for equivalences (Ec/No. rural.). We have Ec/Io in the air. Es = Eb * k. In QPSK modulation. and talk a little about the values of these indicators and their use in practice. For example. one of the most important systems in CDMA and UMTS. 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). such as the definitions of capacity of an AWGN channel.. etc). it is not our purpose here today. etc. It is measured at the input of receiver (NodeB. And the derivations of formulas can reach far more complex equations. UE. then both can be considered the same thing.

the Ec/Io is the final composition of all these factors simultaneously (Composite Ec/Io). if the pilot channel is degraded. Thus we have: Ec = 2 W . So we need another quick and simple measure that allows us to evaluate the contribution of each sector individually. Suppose in our example we have a pilot channel power setting of 2 W.All cells that the mobile sees. and traffic channels. Change in Ec/Io according to the Sector Traffic Load Each sector transmits a certain power. The Ec/Io varies with several factors. Likewise. Of course. so will the other channels (including traffic) be. we have a pilot channel. and a power of other control channels also fixed at 2 W.The answer is simple: the measured signal level corresponds to the Total RF power . 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). some other control channels such as paging. then also are good levels for the traffic channels for our call in this sector. UMTS and CDMA systems. and it is best to avoid using the traffic channels in this sector. To make it easier to understand. but it's easier to understand talking about each one separately. such as the Traffic Load and and RF Scenario. We used to measure the pilot channel signal of each sector to assess the quality: if the level of the pilot is good.

with only one server sector (dominant). Ec = 2 W Io = 2 + 2 + 6 = 10 W Ec/Io = (2/10) = 0. Change in Ec/Io according to the scenario RF According to the RF scenario . the Ec/Io worsens. the ratio Ec/Io is about the same initially transmitted. Considering first a situation without external interference. we'll see how is Ec/Io.5 = -3 dB Now assume that several traffic channels are busy (eg use 6 W for traffic channels).a single server sector. This is a situation of traffic load.Io = 0 + 2 + 2 = 4 W Ec/Io = (2/4) = 0.2 = -7 dB Conclusion: As the traffic load in the sector increases.we can also take various measures to Ec/Io. some or many servers sectors . .

25 = -6 dB Whereas a signal coming from this sector in the mobile at level of -90 dBm (Io = -90 dBm).Ec/Io = (2/8) = 0. And the power of our pilot channel remains the same (Ec = -96 dBm). Let us now consider another situation.6 db) = -96 dBm. all with the same level of -90 dBm). . we have Ec = -90 dBm + (. Instead of one. Now have Io = -83 dBm (which is the sum of five signals of -90 dBm). we have five sectors signal arriving at the mobile (for simplicity.

This situation where we have many overlapping sectors. we are saying that energy is below the Noise (and still have a good situation). But what then is a good range of Ec/Io for a sign? In practical terms. and considering them 'good'. Okay.the mobile sees them all at once . If the value starts to get too low. and with the same level of signal is known as Pilot Pollution . The solution in such cases is to eliminate unwanted signals. the measurement of Ec/Io which is very important in the analysis.(-83) = -13 dB Conclusion: As many more sectors serves the mobile.each acting as interferer to each other. or can not connect.Thus: Ec/Io = -96 . and Ec/Io 'most negative' or 'less negative' is going to allow assessment of the communication. A composite Ec/Io ~ . or 'cleaness' of signal. leaving just dominant signals which should exist at this problematic place. . And now also understand the measure Ec/Io as the ratio of 'good' energy over 'bad' energy. as well as any wireless signal. values of Ec/Io for a good evaluation of the network (in terms of this indicator) are shown in the diagram below. by setting power parameters or physical adjustments (tilt. you start to have dropped calls. In other words. But what are the practical values? The value of Ec/Io fluctuates (varies). This is a characteristic of the system itself. the Ec/Io worsens.10 db is a reasonable value to consider as good. and what are typical values? We have seen that for CDMA and UMTS systems. Note: See we are talking about negative values. especially in handover decisions. azimuth).

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. we saw today Ec/Io. on the Spectral Density of Noise + Interference. or the call will drop constantly. first we need to worry in enhancing the weak signal. especially if you're not familiar with the concept of signal over noise for CDMA and UMTS. 78 Previous Post << >> Next Post Site Map | Printable View | © 2008 . Note.apply .2016 telecomHall . Another typical situation: if the measured Ec/Io is very low.books and internet . Anyway. and supplementary reading .for any technology. the content displayed serves as an excellent reference. in relation to noise that interferes with it. even if you have a good signal level. a measurement for decisions in CDMA and UMTS. that this matter is very complex. you can not connect. Anyway. Returning to our original question: A strong signal level does not necessarily indicate an strong Ec/Io: it depends on the level of interference. Conclusion Today we had a brief introduction on the Ec/Io ratio. which somehow ignores the overall strength of the signal. eg GSM. We have seen that it represents the ratio of signal energy within the duration of a chip of the pilot channel.can further help you become an expert on the subject. where we use the C/I. however. and focuses on how best to evaluate the pilot channel signal is desired.In situations where Ec/Io is very low (high negative number). But the concepts understood here to CDMA and UMTS are very similar . but applies only in technologies that use codes (Ec). and used togheter with the measured Signal Strength. this is a topic for another tutorial. This is a very important measure. and the signal level too (also high negative number). I hope you've managed to understand how the Ec/Io is important for CDMA and UMTS.

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