Interview: The Benefits of an RF Propagation Analysis

It’s very hard to design a reliable and cost-effective network without having a complete understanding of the local landscape and market you are entering. There are many factors to consider, from bypassing partially obstructed pathways to meeting the core connectivity needs of your end users.

With this in mind, one of the first things you should do when designing a network is to conduct a thorough RF propagation analysis.

An RF propagation study will provide a wealth of information that you can use to guide your decisions throughout the hardware purchasing, planning and installation process. For example, you will learn what types of antennas you should use to best serve your customers, as well as their ideal height and azimuth positioning.

Figuring out these critical details early on will save you a significant amount of time, labor and money down the line.

For further insight about RF propagation analysis, we spoke with Paul Shanayda who is CEO of Afterimage GIS, a leading geospatial information consultancy service.


KP Performance: How does Afterimage GIS approach RF propagation?

Paul Shanayda: Our approach is focused on setting appropriate expectations for our clients, so they can make more informed decisions about their network.

For a given area of interest, we look to our database for terrain, clutter, antenna patterns, and other link budget inputs. We also look to continually build on past experience, using R&D to observe and adjust our standard models to better fit reality. They can vary based on geography type, technology, or most likely a combination of the two. By doing this, we’re framing what a client can expect in terms of coverage, and showing them where they should install users.

Our approach is also very market-centric. For example, having a wireless network that works well, but doesn’t serve where the target market resides is certainly less than ideal. So, we combine demographic, marketing, and competitive data to help shape how the network is designed and marketed.

KP: What is the value of conducting an RF propagation study?

Paul Shanayda: You gain a more efficient network by matching users with the best signal levels and coverage areas. You also gain a marketing strategy that caters to actual prospects.

With a proper RF propagation study, clients limit the amount time spent climbing towers to fix issues because they get to test drive ideas before gear is hoisted in the air.  There should ultimately be a reduction in failed truck rolls.   

KP: Why is RF propagation important when using near-and non-line-of-site technologies?

Paul Shanayda: Again, this goes back to setting proper expectations. Not all NLOS situations are alike and blanket statements about how a given technology handles those situations are helpful, but can also be misleading.  So, with a good plan, providers can know where their problem areas might be and also how to best limit them.  

KP: How do antenna specs affect the results of these studies?

Paul Shanayda: Having the proper antenna pattern is huge for knowing where the signal will propagate.

Detailed antenna specs are also critical for determining where side or back lobes might lead to a “noisy” network, and self-interference.

Ready to set up an RF propagation study? To get started, contact us today.