Analyzing Coverage With Propagation Delay and the RTWP

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  • 8/20/2019 Analyzing Coverage With Propagation Delay and the RTWP


    Analyzing Coverage with Propagation Delay - PD and Timing Advance- TA (GSM-WCDMA-LTE)

    One of the biggest challenges in Planning, Designing and even Optimization of MobileNetworks is to identify where the users are, or how they are distributed.

    Although this information is essential, it is not so easy to be obtained. But if we have andknow how to use some counters related to this kind of analysis, everything is easier.

    For GSM, we have seen that we can have a good idea of the location (distribution) of usersthrough the measures of TA (Timing Advance), as we detailed in a tutorial about it.

    Today we are going a little further, and know the equivalent parameters in othertechnologies, such as WCDMA (and LTE).


    Learn the Performance Indicators related to the users distribution in a multi-technology

    mobile network, and also learn how to use these indicators together in analysis.

    TA in 2G (GSM)

    We've aready talked about TA in GSM in another tutorial, so let's just remember the mostimportant concept.

    TA (Timing Advance) allows us to identify the distribution of 2G (GSM) users regarding its

    serving cell, based on signal propagation delay between the the UE's and the BTS. TheGSM mobile (from now on, we will call here UE too - as in 3G) receives data from BTS,and 3 time slots later sends its data. It is sufficient if the mobile is close to the BTS,

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    however, when the UE is far away, it must take into account the delay that the signal willhave to go through the radio path.

    So: the UE sends the TA data together with other measures for the necessary timeadjustments to be made.

    In this way, we indirectly get a map with the distribution of users, or their probable location

    area, corresponding to the coverage area of the cell, with a minimum and maximumradius. The following figure shows this more clearly, for an antenna with 65 HBW, andmaximum (1) and minimum (2) radius.

    And in 3G and 4G (WCDMA, LTE), does we also have TA?

    The expected question here is: does we have TA in 3G/4G? The answer is Yes, but in

    WCDMA the name is another, it is called Propagation Delay. (In LTE, we have bothparameters - TA and PD).

    So, let's learn a little more about it.

    Propagation Delay in 3G (WCDMA)

    As we've told, in 3G the corresponding parameter to TA in 2G (GSM) is the Propagation

    Delay. With this parameter, we can estimate the distance between the UE and the servingcell, in the same way as we do in GSM.

    But in 3G it has some different characteristics. To begin with, 3G measurements are madeby the RNC, and not by the UE.

    In one recent 'RRC and RAB' tutorial we have seen how an RRC connection is established,where the UE sends a 'RRC CONNECTION MESSAGE' message. When the RNC receivesthis message, it sends another message back to NodeB, to set up a Radio Link ('RADIO

    LINK SETUP REQUEST') (1). This message contains the Information Element with thePropagation Delay data, that is, the delay that has already been checked and adjusted toallow transmissions and reception synchronization.

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    As already mentioned, the information does not come from the UE as in GSM, but is theinformation that the RNC already has to make the communication possible: the informationof this delay, the Propagation Delay Information Element (IE) is sent every 3 chips.

    So let's do some math.

      We know that the WCDMA has a constant rate equal to 3.84 Mcp chip/s.

      We also know (we consider) that the speed of light is 300,000 km/s.

    In 1 second I have 3.84 M chips, in how many seconds I have 3 chips? Answer: 0.26 ps(pico seconds).

    As we have seen that the information is sent every 3 chips, the total is 3 x 0.26 = 0.78 psps, which is the Propagation Delay time granularity.

    And now let's translate this minimum value into Distance: If I run 300,000 miles in 1second, what distance I run in 0.78 ps? Answer: 234 meters.

    In other words, have the Propagation Delay with granularity of 234 meters!

    Note: it is important to know that this distance information is available to the system notonly in the establishment of the call, but also during the entire existence of it.

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    Round Trip Delay - Round Trip Time (RTT)

    When we talk about Propagation Delay, there's another very important concept, related

    to the subject and used in several other areas that involve communication between twopoints: the Round Trip Delay & Time.

    Let's understand what it is with an example. Imagine a simple communication betweentwo people, where the first say 'Hi', and the second one also answers 'Hi'.

    In an ideal world, first person speech travels up to the second one, taking a certain amountof time (t1), and the speech of the second person returns with a time (t2). So, we have atotal time elapsed from when the first person said 'hi' till he received the other guy'sanswer. This time is the Round Trip Time, or the time at which a signal travels a route

    until the response is received back at the source.

    Bringing this analogy to an UE and a NodeB, we have the image below.

    :: RTT = (t1 + t2)

    In fact, the approach above is very close to real. But we have to consider also the time inwhich the receiver takes to 'process' the information, or the time it takes to respond afterreceiving the information.

    Considering then this 'latency' time (TL), the RTT is so as:

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    :: RTT = (t1 + t2) + TL

    So, we understand then what is RTT. But how do I use it?

    This information is very important to the system, and can be used for several purposes.One of them for example, can be also to find UE's locations. Our goal today is to know allmeans to find the location information of the UE's, remember?

    Well, this is another method (in addition to the counters, as we shall see soon). When theNodeB sends a message to the UE it knows exactly what time is. And then, when it receivea response from the UE, it also knows exactly that other time!

    So, it just do the subtraction of the times to find the RTT, and calculate the distance! Note:

    the time used for the calculation is half of the RTT as the RTT is the round-trip path. Inthis case, the latency time on the receiver is 'disregarded'.

    With this distance information we can draw a circle with the likely area where the UE is.And if it is being served by various cells, the intersection of the circles of each one of themgives us a more accurate positioning (it is what we call 'Triangulation'). And thesecalculations are even more accurate when other information is used togheter, such as'CellID', MCC, RNC, LAC and Call Logs (CHR), with much more detailed information.

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    But let's go back to the case where we only use the information of Propagation Delay -that is our focus today - and that already gives us sufficient allowance for several veryinteresting analysis.

    TA and PD (Propagation Delay) counters

    The Propagation Delay information are (also) available in simple form of Performancecounters.

    These types of counters are available in pre-set ranges according to each vendor. Theranges vary from 1 Propagation Delay to several 'grouped' Propagation Delay.

    For example in Huawei have some TA ranges in GSM, and other PD ranges in WCDMA

    (Note: Huawei calls these propagation delay counter s as TP instead of PD). For an 'ideal'scenario, we would have counters for 'each' Propagation Delay.

    Actually, that's not what happens, because as we told before, they may be grouped into

    ranges. Note: the reason for this is not the case, but really too many ranges may evendisrupt analysis.

    TP (Propagation Delay WCDMA in Huawei) has 12 ranges.

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    In the above figure we have PDTA from 0 to 11.

      For TP_0 the UE is between 0 and 234 meters from NodeB;

      For TP_1 the UE is between 234 and 468 meters from NodeB;


      For TP_36_55 the UE is between 8.4 and 13.1 km from NodeB;

      And for TP_56_MORE the UE is more than 13.1 km from NodeB.

    In the GSM (Huawei) have the same concept.

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    Note: See however that the amount of ranges here (GSM) is much bigger, and only beginto be grouped from 30 (from almost 17 km!).

    With the counters organized in so different ways, be grouped by different rangesgranularities, different distance (550 m for GSM and 234 m for WCDMA) it is very difficultto analyze the propagations, or rather, it is almost impossible to compare them...

    And so what does we do, since we need to analyze the distribution of the UE's in a genericway, doesn't matter if it is using 2G or 3G?

    The solution that we found in telecomHall was to make an 'approach', that is, a way to beable to see where we have more concentrated UE's, no matter if at the time they are using2G or 3G. Even because, this 'distribution' among Technologies and Carriers depends on

    several factors, such as selection and handover parameters, and also physical adjustmentsof radiant system. But the 'concentration' of users does not depend on these factors: thetotal amount of users in a particular area is always the same!

    To this, the module 'Hunter Propagation Analyzer' uses a methodology and 'particular'

    counters, allowing to do this approach: we have created a range, and called it PDTA. Asthe 3G (Huawei, which we are using as an example) has less ranges - only 12, we madethe initial PDTA definition based on it. The result can be seen in the table below.

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    Of course this approach or 'methodology' is not perfect, but in practice the outcome isvery efficient. In addition, if you need a more detailed analysis (for example if you needto know with more accuracy than the approach presented here) just look to the originaltable, which contains each counter in its standard range in original granularity.

    For other vendors, the ranges may be different, but the methodology is always the same.

    In Ericsson for example, the Propagation Delay WCDMA counter is 'pmPropagationDelay',and it is collected by the RNC just like in Huawei.

    It has 41 bins, being the first to indicate the maximum delay in chips (Cell Range), andother (1 to 40) to inform the number of samples in the period, referring to the percentageof the maximum Cell Range.

    When the UE try to connect at one point greater than the Cell Range it will fail.

    Regarding to bins, the distribution goes from 0 to 100%, as the rule below:

      bin1: samples between 0 and 1% of Cell Range (for example, if the Cell Range is 30 km, bin1 has

    the samples between 0 and 300 m from NodeB);  bin2: samples between 1% and 2% of Cell Range;


      bin40: samples between 96% and 100% of Cell Range.

    And the 'adjust' of PDTA can be done the same way, depending on your need.

    Conclusion: Different vendors have different propagation counters, and in differentformats - but the information is always the same! In all cases we can do the calculationsthat bring the analysis to the same comparison universe, with the benefits that we'veillustrated above.

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    Distribution of Radio Link Failure (GSM) and EcNo (WCDMA)

    Okay, we've seen today how to check the distribution of UE's on 2G and/or 3G networksbased on its counters. But in addition, we have also other equally interesting information!

    In GSM, in addition to PDTA, we were able to count Radio Link Failures. And this gives usa great opportunity of crossing this information with the amount of Call Drops! The rule issimple: the point we have a lot of Radio Link Failures, 'much' probably we also have a lotof Dropped Calls! The relation is straightforward.

    And in WCDMA, in addition to PDTA, we also have the average value of EcNo, that indicatesthe average quality of a given cell/region!

    Note: In Huawei, for the average value of Ec/No for each TP, take the counter value anduse the formula: EcNo = (value - 49) / 2.

    TA in 4G (LTE)

    As well as in 2G and 3G, we were also able to get the UE's distribution information in LTE.The concepts applied are the same as already seen before, we can only point out that inLTE we have both TA and PD.

    As today's tutorial is already quite extensive, we will finish this part here, but with thecertainty that if you assimilated what was presented, without any major problems you willbe able to extend this information to your specific scenario.

    Practical Analysis

    After having seen - even with a little more detail - the concepts of propagation (includingFailures in GSM and EcNo in WCDMA), we will see some possible analysis that we can doin practice.

    We have already said that the professional who has experience on this kind of analysiscan improve enough to network Indicators as Retainability and Accessibility. But how hemanages to do this?

    Simple: with the propagation analysis, it is possible to identify cells that are with theirmuch greater coverage than planned/expected - 'overshooting' cells, especially if they arereaching places where we have other cells with better signal level!

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    In this case, we have pilot pollution, interference and high transmit power. As a result,increase of Establishment Failures and Call Drops, both in overshooting cell, as in the otherwhere it is interfering.

    In addition, we can discover cells that have their coverage area in the same direction(sector), but that have very different concentration (for example in the case of 3 WCDMA

    carrier, where one Carrier can be with the highest concentration of users closer to the cell,and another with this concentration away – don't worry, we will see examples below and

    will be easier to understand).

    This difference of distribution/concentration can be seen between the multi-technologiesof the sector, for example, if the GSM coverage is much smaller than the WCDMA and viceversa. In this case, it serves as a great call for adjustments of tilts and azimuth betweenthe antennas in this sector.

    Practical analysis – Worksheets and Charts

    Using data from simple counters, we already have excellent ways of analysis like chartsand graphs. For example, the following is a complete view of a particular sector of ournetwork (all cells of all technologies and all carriers). Note that the simple thematicdistribution obtained with Excel Conditional Formatting already gives us a clear vision ofthis sector.

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    Filtering only for the contribution ('PDTA_P') of each cell, we can see clearly that a sector(Hxxx21) is with its coverage beyond the expected (1).

    In addition, we were able to match (1) failures (now filtering by 'ECNORLFAIL_P'), showingthe immediate need for actions in this sector.

    Practical Analysis - Maps

    In addition to the simple analyses on charts and tables, we can geo-reference it, with adirect relationship with the coverage area. For demonstration, we create some dummy

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    PDTA data of our network. Note: A real network has much more cells, but with these fewsample data we can show the main points of analysis.

    Continuing, we will then see the PDTA data of 4 examples sites plotted.

    To analyze the PDTA distribution in Google Earth, we use a report generated by the 'HunterGE Propagation Analyzer' module*, and so we need to know the criteria that we are using:

    in this report, the heights (1) from each region (PDTA of 0 to 11) represent the percentageof samples in that region. And the colors (2) represent the Quality: EcNo to UMTS, andRadio Link Failure % for GSM. *Note: you can build your reports in Google Earth and/orMapinfo, just follow and apply the concepts presented here to your own tools/macros.

    The data are grouped in 'Folders', with the first level being the sector (1) (a specificdirection for all cells of all technologies and carriers). At the second level, we have the

    ranges (2) of PDTA percentage (how many samples from total cell samples we have ineach region). And in the third level we have cells/PDTA (3).

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    Also equally important is the definition of the range used in the generation of the data,and consequently in the legend. Note that we use the same coloring scale for EcNo andRadio Link Failure. So, no matter if the coverage is GSM or UMTS - for example if theregion is Red, we know it's bad! (Or WCDMA EcNo worse than -16 dB, or GSM Radio LinkFailure more than 50%!).

    Knowing these details, we can do some demonstrations. Giving a zoom in a more extensivearea, we see that we have multiple cells with coverage in places where they should not becovering. Of course, these points have a few samples, but with vary bad quality, as wesee in the region shown below (1) - ranges mostly Pink, Red and Orange.

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    Analyzing specific cells, for example 'AAN', we see that the same coverage area is muchlarger than it should (overshooting cell), both the GSM (1) and UMTS (2) are more than 4km of the serving cell.

    In this case, we have another interesting point, also seen below: most of the users in theregion (1) are served almost exclusively by GSM. Now in region (2) almost all users use

    WCDMA. This is another point of optimization: these coverages should be, as far aspossible, 'proportional'.

    Another example: the 'ABU' site is a typical case of need of urgent action, for example by

    increasing the tilt's of overshooting cells. Too many samples at more than 4 km, and withpoor quality. As these are cells of an urban area, and in addition we have other cellsserving that distant locations, it is recommended to increase tilt, and later run a new


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    The opposite of what we saw above is also possible: we can identify cells that have a verygood coverage area (in this case, a more contained area), and with excellent quality levels(Green and Blue).

    We could go on demonstrating several other analyses that are possible using the datapresented here today. However, the best way is that you use these incredible resource inyour analysis, because with no doubt it represents a big help.

    Many people try to optimize the network based on parameter changes only. But we sawthat in many cases like above, there may be situations where the most recommended isphysical intervention (adjusting of Antenna, Height, Azimuth, Tilt, etc...).

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    No doubt the analysis presented in this tutorial are essential to the improvement of anymobile network, and if you so far haven't used, it's a good time to start.


    We learned today an important concept used in many areas of mobile 2G/3G/4G networks:

    the propagation delay, used as a tool for assessment of the geographical distribution ofusers.

    The measures are the Timing Advance, that in GSM is measured by the UE, andPropagation Delay, that in UMTS is is calculated by the RNC. Both allow us to estimate thedistance of the UE until the serving cell, consequently allowing several analysis,exemplified above.

    The TA in GSM has a granularity of 550 meters, and the Propagation Delay in WCDMA has

    granularity of 234 meters. Using these measures, we can 'see' exactly where networkusers are distributed at a level of cell/carrier/technology in each region.

    In addition, we have other measures, also mapped by region: EcNo for WCDMA and RadioLink Failure for GSM.

    All these measures together with other network information (Radiant Systems, Azimuths,Tilts, etc ...) give a huge help to the telecom professional for analysis and optimizing taskswith significant results for the improvement of the quality of the entire network.

    We hope you enjoyed. Until our next meeting!

    What is RTWP?

    If you work with UMTS,'ve probably heard someone talk about RTWP. Its definition can befound in a dictionary of acronyms, such as Received Total Wideband Power.

    Represents a measure of UMTS technology: the total level of noise within the UMTSfrequency band of any cell.

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    RTWP is related to uplink interference, and its monitoring helps control the call drops -mainly CS. It also has importance in the capacity management, as it provides informationfor the Congestion Control regarding Uplink Interference.

    In UMTS, the uplink interference may vary due to several factors, such as the number ofusers in the cell, the Service, Connection Types and Conditions of Radio, etc..

    As our goal is to always be as simple as possible, we will not delve in terms of formulas orconcepts involved. We will then know the typical values, and know what must be done incase of problems.

    Typical Values

    Ok, we know that RTWP can help us in checking the uplink interference, then we need toknow its typical values.

    In a network is not loaded, normal, acceptable RTWP Average value is generally around -104.5 and -105.5 dBm.

    Values around -95 dBm indicate that the cell has some uplink interferers.

    If the value is around -85 dBm, the situation is ugly, with strong uplink interferers.

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    Usually we have High, Low and Medium measures of RTWP. However, the maximum andminimum values are recommended only as auxiliary or reference, since they may havebeen caused by a peak of access, or even been forced to have a momentary value due tosome algorithm i.e..

    Thus, the value that helps us, and has the most accurate information is the same MeanRTWP!

    For cases in which cell has two carriers, the difference between them RTWP should notexceed 6 dB.

    Based on these typical values, most vendors have an alarm: RTWP "Very High. "

    What to do in case of problems?

    We have seen that RTWP can cause performance degradation, mainly CS Call Drops. Note:Actually, it's not RTWP that causes performance degradation. What happens is that whenits value is 'bad', it's actually indicating the presence of interference - the latter beingresponsible for degradation.

    But what can we do when we find bad values?

    If RTWP is not at acceptable levels, some actions should be taken.


    The first thing to do is check if there is a configuration issue with the RNC or NodeB. This is themost common case, especially in cases of new activations.

      Once verified the parameter settings, the next step is the physical examination, especially jumpersand cables, often partially reversed. It also should be checked if there is faulty transmitters, orany other problem that could generate intermodulation between the NodeB and the antenna.

      If the parameter settings and hardware are ok, the chance is very high that we have externalinterference, such as a Interferer Repeater.

    In cases where there may be external interference, we must begin to act after such aprioritization based on how much this is affecting the cell KPI's across the network, if itcarry high traffic, major subscribers, etc..

    Note: There are many forms of interference in the uplink, both internal and external. Onlya few are listed above. The deepening of all possibilities is beyond the goal of being simple

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    to teach the concepts, but this is a suggestion for whoever wants to deepen the study,identification and elimination of interference.

    In practice

    to find - and eliminate - problems of interference is one of the biggest challenges in our

    area. For being such a complex problem, we recommend that be collected enough datafor each investigation. Insufficient data collected can lead to erroneous conclusions, furtherworsening the problem.

    The uplink interference may appear only in specific periods. Thus, it is recommended thatdata be collected from at least one week (7 days) for every 24 hours. Usually this amountof data is sufficient. In the figure below, we see different days and times - colorful - afictional example where the interference occurred.

    Data should be collected for the suspicious cell, but also for its adjacent cells, allowing itto make a triangulation increasing the chances of locating the source of interference.

    Another way to locate the source of interference is to do a test in field. An antenna guymust gradually change the azimuth of the antenna, while another professional do RTWP

    measurements. That is, through the information directing the antenna and the respectivevalues of RTWP, you can draw conclusions very good.

    It is obvious that changing the online system may not be a good practice, and tests canbe made with a Yagi antenna and a Spectrum Analyzer.

    Vendors offer several ways to measure RTWP, using the OSS, performance counters andlogs.


    In this brief tutorial, we learn what is RTWP, and that the ideal typical value is about -104.5 dBm and -105.5 dBm.

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    As the RTWP is directly related to Uplink Interference - and we know that interference isthe main cause of performance degradation - have concluded that improving RTWP, iemaking is as close as possible to -105 dBm, improving the Call Drop Rate! 

    IMPORTANT : Seizing the opportunity, see what was stated at the start of this tutorial -dictionary - by describing RTWP. Remember that this site has been the subject of a veryinteresting tutorial in the Tips Section. If you have not visited this section of the portal yet, I strongly recommend, because it has many issues that help in our growth in telecomand IT area.

    Other topics for discussion on telecomHall are:

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