What is RF Network Design?
RF Network Design Ensures Users Have Reliable Network Connections
The world of wireless communications is continuously evolving, with the next step in wireless networks being 5G. This new era in mobile networks looks to boost download and upload speeds, improve reliability, decrease latency, and much more. Providers also hope to narrow the digital divide within the country with 5G. However, in order to ensure 5G does all of the things it promises, it requires quality RF network design.
After all, without a properly planned design, wireless networks may not provide quality connectivity or the right amount of coverage. Providers carefully plan their RF network design well before deployment to avoid these issues.
Worldwide, there are over 3.5 billion smartphone users, and that number will only increase in the coming years. Naturally, it makes sense to establish reliable wireless networks to ensure users can easily access quality broadband. That begins with careful planning and designing of RF networks.
However, you might be wondering, “What are RF networks?” As a leader in the world of wireless networks, ARYU Networks understands the importance of designing reliable RF networks.
What are RF Networks?
RF networks stand for radio frequency (RF) networks. A radio frequency signal is the wireless electromagnetic signal that extends across an area that carriers use as a form of communication. It is these signals that help 5G send information and increase access and reliability for all users.
Because they are a form of electromagnetic radiation, you can identify radio waves with radio frequencies. These frequencies range from 3kHz to 300 GHz. Fortunately, radio waves do not need a medium to travel through. They occur naturally from sun flares, lightning, stars, and much more.
Society has created artificial radio waves that oscillate at various frequencies, which carriers choose to fit their needs in a given situation (such as in big cities or rural communities). 5G networks utilize different frequencies depending on the coverage an area requires.
For example, in densely populated areas, carriers will deploy (in some cities, have already deployed) an ultrafast variant of 5G, known as millimeter-wave (mmWave). They use mmWaves in areas where a large number of users are competing for the same bandwidth to ensure they still have a quality network connection. mmWaves are high-frequency bands.
These bands allow for lightning-fast speeds, but to improve these speeds, they had to cut their coverage distance. They only cover a couple of blocks, which means providers need more small cells in one area. Additionally, these waves also struggle to penetrate buildings and walls. Carriers use small cells to provide mmWaves to users.
RF networks typically rely on mmWaves in densely populated areas due to the level of bandwidth competition in small areas. They need high-frequency bands to ensure every user has a quick and reliable network connection. However, in rural areas, the populations are much smaller and more widely spread out. The competition is lower, which means the need for small cells is also smaller.
Low-frequency bands offer broader coverage and better building penetration. However, they do not have the same level of speed as high-frequency bands do. While low-frequency bands will coopt existing 4G LTE networks, they will still offer speeds 35-50% greater than LTE.
Groups like satellite companies and the Navy use mid-frequency bands in certain situations, but these organizations typically use up most of the frequency. While they are more popular overseas, there has been an effort to free up some mid-frequency.
Planning an RF Network
When it comes to planning an RF network design, a good design translates to better coverage, improved speeds, and better user experience. It involves many factors, including broadband wireless and distributed antenna systems (DAS). There are two main objectives that every company offering network design should focus on: operator profitability and optimal user experience.
When designing an RF network, many providers focus on three key areas:
It is essential to know your coverage area and how large it is when you begin RF network design. You have to plan for the physical environment, power levels, obstacles, antenna gain, and more. However, you can think about the area where your end-users and devices need access to a wireless network.
Identify where exactly in these areas do users most need to connect to a wireless network (whether indoors or outdoors). Decide what the minimum data you want to be transferred at a given time in a given location is. Doing so will allow you to plan what each area needs for its population and device size.
Some areas need broader coverage because the population spreads out further, which means you’ll need to distribute antennas further away. Other spaces have heavily condensed populations and require more antennas in one spot.
Once you discover the coverage you need, you can move forward.
Capacity and coverage go hand and hand. You might need to offer smaller coverage areas if the volume in a given space is too much. To optimize your RF design, you need to determine the capacity of a network.
You need to know how many devices will be accessing this network in a given area. What types of devices will access it, and what capabilities do these devices have? Learning this will provide you with a clear idea of how to plan an RF network design.
After all, if an area has a lot of devices with complex capabilities accessing the same network, you would have to design it differently than you would for a spot with limited devices.
To guarantee the performance of an RF network design, you should run an RF site survey. This survey will give you a clear picture of how your wireless environment looks. It allows you to see how saturated the area is, which helps you determine which frequency spectrum will guarantee the highest level of performance and user experience.
Additionally, it helps you determine how much bandwidth you will need to support the capacity within a given coverage. The more users and devices there are in an area, the more bandwidth you will need. Capacity and coverage combine to help you create an effective RF network design that performs well.
When it comes to wireless networks, having a quality RF network design helps ensure that the users in these areas will have quality access to high-speed broadband. As we move closer and closer to complete 5G deployment, ARYU Networks understands how vital thoroughly planned RF networks are to ensure users have access to reliable and lightning-fast wireless networks.