Coverage, range and capacity of a 5G radio system

FFI-Report 2023
This publication is only available in Norwegian

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Agnius Birutis
Commercial mobile technology is already in use by the Norwegian Armed Forces. There are many reasons to believe that military use of mobile technology will increase in the future. Fifth-generation mobile technology (5G) can become an essential component of the military ICT infrastructure. New radio capabilities, virtualisation of network components, and improved security make 5G technology easily adaptable to military needs to an even greater extent than previous generations of mobile technology (2G, 3G, and 4G). Norwegian Armed Forces need to investigate the technology in order to determine the suitable areas for 5G integration. This study focuses on the 5G radio interface, New Radio (NR), and studies the coverage, range, and capacity of a 5G radio system. Our report presents theory about coverage and radio propagation models. We carried out radio measurements in the field to gather data and gain practical experience with 5G radio systems, measuring in different types of terrain with different 5G configurations. We then used these measurements to create a model for estimating the coverage, range, and capacity of a 5G base station. In our report, we show possible applications of our model and discuss various methods for estimating the best placement of 5G base stations, predicting service quality, and evaluating the required number or type of equipment. Based on our results, we have drafted some concrete recommendations for the Norwegian Armed Forces to utilise 5G coverage effectively: • The Norwegian Armed Forces should have access to proper tools for radio planning. Radio planning tools must be able to support coverage calculations that apply to 5G radio communication. At high 5G frequencies, good radio planning is particularly important to utilize the surrounding terrain and have as few obstacles as possible for the signal between communication nodes. • The Norwegian Armed Forces should ensure that the frequency range for military use of 5G is as low as possible. Low-frequency bands provide considerably better coverage in forested areas than high-frequency bands. • The Norwegian Armed Forces should ensure that the transmit power of user equipment is as high as possible. Therefore, it is important to acquire user equipment that supports high power and is equipped with proper antennas. The transmit power can also be maximised by optimising parameter settings at the base station.

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