A short description of “Radio Wave Propagation”

A short description of “Radio Wave Propagation”

Radio waves propagate through space as travelling electromagnetic waves. The energy of signals exists in the form of electrical and magnetic fields. Both electrical and magnetic fields vary sinusoidally with time. The two fields always exist together because a change in electrical field generates a magnetic field and a change in magnetic field develops an electrical field. Thus there is continuous flow of energy from one field to the other. Radio waves arrive at a mobile receiver from different directions with different time delays. They combine via vector addition at the receiver antenna to give a resultant signal with a large or small amplitude depending upon whether the incoming waves combine to strengthen each other or cancel each other. As a result, a receiver at one location may experience a signal strength several tens of decibels (dB) different from a similar receiver located only a short distance away. As a mobile receiver moves from one location to another, the phase relationship between the various incoming waves also changes. Thus, there are substantial amplitude and phase fluctuations, and the signal is subjected to fading.

A steady decrease in the received signal power at a separation distance, d, of several kilometers (or miles) occurs. This is the signal attenuation. Attenuation is proportional to the second power of distance in the free space, but can vary to the fourth or fifth power in built-up areas because of reflections and obstacles. When we focus on a distance of a couple of kilometers, we observe that signal power fluctuates around a mean value and the fluctuations have a somewhat longer period. This is referred to as long-term or slow fading. When we concentrate and examine the signal power over a few hundred meters, we find that signal power fluctuates more rapidly. These rapid fluctuations are caused by a local multipath. The phenomenon giving rise to these rapid fluctuations is referred to as short-term or fast fading.

A short description of Radio Wave Propagation

To separate out fast fading from slow fading, the magnitude of the received signal is averaged over a distance on the order of 10 m, and the result is referred to as the small area average or sector average. The rapid fluctuation in fast fading is a result of small movements of the transmitter, receiver, and surrounding objects. Because fast fading is random, its statistical properties are used to determine system performance. For locations that are heavily shadowed by surrounding buildings, it is typically found that a Rayleigh distribution approximates the probability density function (PDF). For locations where there is one path making a dominant contribution to the received signal, such as when the base station is visible to the mobile station (typically in the indoor environment), the distribution function is typically found to be that of a Rician distribution. Because of shadowing by buildings and other objects, the average within individual small areas also varies from one small area to the next in an apparently random manner, referred to as the shadow effect. Shadow effect is often called Lognormal fading because its distribution is represented by lognormal distribution. In a moving vehicle, slow fading is observed over a longer time scale than fast fading. Slow fading is the average of received signal power over large transmitter and receiver separation distances. A local mean is computed by averaging signal power over 5 to 40 wavelengths (λ), or separation distance between 40 to 80 fades (where a signal crosses a certain level).

#Ref book: Wireless Communication and Networking – V.K. Garg

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