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Tropospheric ducting

Phenomenon and its impact on RF KPIs

Presentation covers…

The behavior?

Why RF more prone than microwave frequencies?

Why South-II more hit than other regions?

Some more facts from the past.


Any remedies?

The behavior
Understanding tropospheric ducting
Propagation enhancements in radio waves due to an atmospheric condition called
temperature inversion extending the cell range far beyond its predicted service area.
Temp Inversion forms a “warm air layer, over cold air” (converse of normal behavior)
Area between ground and warm air forms a waveguide, i.e. a duct!
Duct prevents RF wave from exiting into outer sphere and turns it back to ground.
Duct behaves like giant fiber optic in the atmosphere!
Produces unforeseen co and adjacent channel interference within the system.

Why RF more prone to ducting than Microwave?
Facts and examples

Fact#1 : Frequency of wave

Lower frequencies experience larger coverage extension than higher ones.
UHF and VHF (MHz) are known to be more vulnerable than microwaves (GHz).

Fact#2 : Vertical width of beam

Ducts formed between 300m to 3 km above the ground.
RF Antennas  7◦ vertical beam width
MW Antennas  1◦ vertical beam width
It takes much longer for MW beam to reach the duct than RF beam therefore.
For a tower Height of 60 meters,
Microwave beam would travel ~10-12 km to reach the duct.
RF beam would travel ~1.5-2 km to reach and get trapped into the duct.

Due to lower frequencies and larger vertical beam width, RF waves are more
4 vulnerable to ducting trap compared to microwaves.
Why RF more prone to ducting than Microwave? (2)
Source: Integrated Publishing
Article: Weather vs. Propagation

Source: Wikipedia
Article: Notable Tropospheric Ducting Receptions

Why South-II more hit than other TP regions?
Facts and examples

Fact: Ducting effect is rich in coastal areas

Reference #1:
Ducting happens in areas near or between water belts i.e where the water vapor
concentration in air is high.
Source: Bird Technologies (Global RF service providers based in US)
Article: It’s Duct Hunting season

Reference #2:
Temperature inversions occur most frequently along coastal areas bordering large
bodies of water. This is the result of natural onshore movement of cool, humid air
shortly after sunset when the ground air cools more quickly than the upper air
layers. The same action may take place in the morning when the rising sun warms
the upper layers.
Source: (Online information portal)
Article: Tropospheric Ducting Conditions
Why South-II more hit than other TP regions?
Facts and examples
Reference #3:
Ducting predictions from authentic website DX Info Centre display the severity of
effect in South-II region compared to rest of Pakistan.

7 Source: DX Info Centre (Global Ducting Prediction Heat Maps)

Some more facts!

Ducting happens twice a year.

March (for 2~3 months), September (for 2~3 months)
In 2010, NPA team in Telenor Pakistan produced a report on the same (attached).

In 2012, Grameenphone collaborated with PAU team to investigate ducting.

GP shared that they are also hit severely with ducting in the southern part of the
country (near to the coast) causing MPD reduction up to 35%.
(due to increase in RF and HO drops)

Statistics (2014)

Cluster level impact of ducting (WK 49 vs. WK 51)
WK 49 (5th Dec): 116 min
WK 51 (17th Dec): 158 min
Ducting related degradation = 40 min

Severe MPD degradation (20-40% dip)

Occurs in 23/40 Cluster

These clusters contributed around

30 mins decrease in the 40 min
regional degradation.

Less severe MPD degradation (up to 10%

Occurs in 17/40 Cluster

These clusters contributed around

10 mins decrease in the 40 min regional

Any Remedies?
Just one! Aggressive downtilt of RF antennas during ducting season
However, this comes with a cost of significant Traffic (and revenue) loss

Source: US Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)

Article: RF operations and technology

Thank you
Backup Slides

Statistics (2011)

Statistics (2012)

Statistics (2013)