Microcellular radio channel prediction using ray tracing

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Virginia Tech

The radio interface greatly affects performance of wireless communication systems. Hard-wired communication links use transmission lines to connect communication terminals. The propagation characteristics of radio frequency signals on these transmission lines are well known. In wireless communication systems, however, the transmission line with a known impulse response is replaced by a radio channel with an impulse response that is constantly changing as the users roam throughout the coverage area. The varying impulse response is due to the multiple path propagation of the signals from the transmitter to the receiver. The design of emerging small cellular (commonly known as microcellular) wireless systems is limited by the multipath propagation characteristics of the channel. Once these propagation conditions are understood, systems may be designed more efficiently in terms of cell layout, interference reduction, and system performance.

This thesis presents a technique for automated propagation prediction in outdoor microcellular radio channels using ray tracing. The basic method is to integrate site-specific environmental data with a geometrical optics model to trace the propagation of energy from the transmitter to the receiver. Software written in C++ is used to automatically trace rays that are reflected, transmitted, scattered, or diffracted as they propagate through the channel. The automated software uses AutoCAD® to maintain the site-specific building data incorporated into the model. Details of the building database, propagation model, and software implementation are included in this thesis. The accuracy of the model and its software implementation is tested against wide band measurements taken on the Virginia Tech campus. Results, included here, indicate that the received signal can be accurately predicted in both line-of-sight and obstructed microcell topographies.