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* Correspondence to: Dongsoo Har, AirTouch Cellular, 2785 Mitchell Drive, MS8-2, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, U.S.A.

E-mail: dhar@nit.airtouch.com
E-mail: howard.xia@airtouch.com
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13: 231}241
Propagation modelling for wireless local loop channel
Dongsoo Har*, Ce Xu` and Howard H. Xia`
AirTouch Cellular, 2785 Mitchell Drive, MS8-2, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, U.S.A.
` AirTouch Communications, 2999 Oak Rd., MS900, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, U.S.A.
SUMMARY
Wireless local loop (WLL) systems based on cellular, PCS and cordless phone technologies have been
deployed widely in developing countries which lack basic telephony infrastructure as a bypass of wire-line
local loop. In most of the developed countries, the WLL application was only limited to the remote area as
an extension of existing telephone network. However, recent growth of the Internet applications has
stimulated demand for a cost-e!ective high-speed delivery system so that WLL systems are considered as
a new contender for broadband services against ISDN, Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and
cable TV. In such WLL systems, subscriber antenna might be mounted on rooftops, if not wall or ground,
thereby limiting the applicability of most of the propagation models that assume a street-level receiver.
Hence it is necessary to "t current propagation models to WLL-speci"c situations in order to predict path
loss for various receiving antenna locations. In this paper WLL propagation models are presented through
appropriate modi"cation of several models in the literature. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
KEY WORDS: wireless local loop; propagation modelling
1. INTRODUCTION
Owing to faster deployment and lower cost of wireless local loop (WLL) infrastructure compared
to a wired one, worldwide roll-out of WLL service is highly expected. Most of the WLL systems
deployed so far belong to narrow-band systems mainly aimed at providing voice service. These
systems are considered as a bypass of wire-line local loop. In most of the developed countries the
WLL application was only limited to the remote area as an extension of existing telephone
network. However, in recent years, media-rich content of internet put speed pressure on the local
loop so that extensive deployment of WLL systems even in developed countries is being carried
out.
Typical location of "xed subscriber antenna in WLL systems is expected to be on or around
rooftop. However, most theoretical and empirical propagation models for small or medium cells
are appropriate only for receivers well below surrounding rooftop level. As a result, current
propagation models cannot be applied to WLL system planning. Hence, it is desirable to
customize the propagation models for speci"c situation of WLL applications. In this paper, we
present WLL propagation models which are valid for heights of receiving antenna ranging from
&on rooftop' to &below rooftop'.
In general, cell size varies according to tra$c density. Macrocell propagation models [1, 2] are
typically used for large cells having low tra$c density while prediction models [2}7] for small or
medium cells are more appropriate for an area having moderate or high tra$c density. Trend of
path loss variation predicted by macrocell propagation models generally depends on environ-
ment type or morphology type (land use) instead of detailed information such as building pro"le
between communicating antennas. It is di$cult to apply these models to WLLs of small or
medium coverage. Small cell models, which make use of information on buildings and streets, are
more appropriate to be modi"ed for WLL applications.
We assume that the primary propagation path takes place over the rooftops while propagation
around the building corner is less signi"cant. Theoretical models that deal with such propagation
mechanism include Wal"sch}Bertoni (WB) model [2], COST 231-Wal"sch}Ikegami (COST
231-WI) model [3], Xia}Bertoni (XB) model [4], Vogler model [5] and #at edge model [6].
Empirical models representing such approaches are Har}Xia}Bertoni (HXB) model [7] and
COST 231-WI model. These models attempt to predict path loss variation along non-LOS paths
in low building environments where propagation over the rooftop is involved.
The Vogler model and #at edge model give complete representation of path loss for irregular
heights and spacings of buildings. However, they are not convenient for analysis due to intensive
computations required. Therefore, we will focus on the rest of the small cell models which are
more appropriate for fast prediction of radio propagation in typical quasi-uniform building
environments and modify them for WLL applications.
2. WLL SYSTEM CONFIGURATION
WLL systems can be classi"ed into 2 categories.
1. Narrow-band system as alternative to basic telephone services. Most of the systems deployed
so far belong to this category. This type of system provides voice service with limited
support for data communication. Bandwidth available for this service is usually limited to
several mega-Hertz. The system is mostly based on the existing cellular/PCS technologies,
which are based on circuit switched connection.
2. Broadband system bypassing local loop to provide high-speed, interactive services. Emerging
broadband systems will provide various services such as voice, high-speed Internet access
and video-on-demand. Bandwidth required for these services is usually hundreds of mega-
Hertz. Allocation of radio resource is dynamic, and the network is packet switched with
guaranteed QoS.
In order to provide such services a typical WLL system con"guration consists of wireless base
station, subscriber unit and backbone switching network as shown in Figure 1. Base stations are
interconnected through switching network by wire line or microwave back-haul.
232 D. HAR, C. XU AND H. H. XIA
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
Figure 1. Con"guration of wireless local loop.
A subscriber unit typically consists of an antenna, a network interface card (NIC) and
a subscriber device (usually a telephone). Because of the absence of de"nitive WLL radio
standards, WLL systems can be implemented with the various radio technologies ranging from
analog to digital cellular, from low-tier PCS such as Cordless Telephone-2 (CT-2), Digital
Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) to proprietary systems.
3. PATH LOSS PREDICTION MODELS
As previously mentioned, current propagation models for small cells must be modi"ed in order to
be applied for WLL planning. In this section, we will try to adjust the models, depending on
locations of antennas, for WLL applications. For complete representation of path loss expression
with various antenna locations, three cases are examined in detail. All the path loss expressions in
this paper are for forward link (from base station to subscriber antenna) only while path loss of
reverse link can be obtained accordingly via the application of reciprocity principle.
Propagation models discussed in this paper provide path loss value between base station and
subscriber antennas resulting from propagation over buildings and streets. Speci"cally, para-
meters representing building geometry consist of average height of intervening buildings, average
spacing of neighboured building rows, while the parameter indicating street geometry is related to
street width. Among the models discussed in this paper, HXB model does not explicitly include
average spacing of building rows.
The average height of surrounding rooftops h
"'
shown in Figure 2 can be used as a parameter
in the path loss prediction through the relative antenna heights h
'
and h
'
de"ned as
h
b
"h
b
!h
BD
(1a)
h
'
"h
"'
!h
'
(1b)
where h
'
is the transmitting antenna height in m, h
"'
, the average building height in m and h
'
, the
receiving antenna height in m.
Overall path loss in dB can be approximated by the summation of free space loss
"
, loss

KQB
due to intervening buildings, and loss
'''
due to di!raction at the last rooftop [3]. In order
to account for various receiving antenna locations, modi"cation of the propagation model is
mainly involved with
'''
, speci"cally the parameters h
'
and h
'
.
PROPAGATION MODELLING FOR WLL CHANNEL 233
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
Figure 2. Propagation path in urban residential environment from base station to receiving antenna unit
(modi"ed from Figure 3.1 in Reference [15]).
3.1. Both the transmitting and receiving antennas are above rooftop level (h
b
'0 and h
r
'0)
This case corresponds to the heights of both transmitting and receiving antennas greater than
rooftop level as seen in Figure 2(a). It was discussed in References [8,9] that WB model
234 D. HAR, C. XU AND H. H. XIA
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
accounting for free space loss
"
combined with excess loss
'
can be obtained as
PL"!10 log


4R

`
!10 log

Q` (g
N
)#4

sin

2
h
'
h
'
R

(2)
where
Q(g
N
)"3.502g
N
!3.327g`
N
#0.962g`
N
g
N
"

"tan-1

h
'
R

+
h
'
R

being , the wavelength in m, R

, the antenna separation in m, , the glancing angles in rad and d,


the average spacing of building row in m.
Path loss model in (2) is valid for conditions, (in deg))23 and (h
'
h
'
/R

)((1/8). When
the height of the receiving antenna is close to rooftop level, i.e. h
'
+0, bracketed term in (2)
vanishes, so (2) becomes, as desired, WB model without rooftop-to-receiver di!raction term.
3.2. Receiving antenna is below the rooftop (h
b
'0 and h
r
(0)
When base station antenna is above the rooftop level and receiver is below or equal to rooftop
level as shown in Figure 2(b), path loss models such as WB model, COST 231-WB model, and
HXB model need to be modi"ed to completely address the loss
'''
due to di!raction at the last
rooftop to receiver. Due to the recursion relation of Boersma function [10] in
'
expression of
XB model, we make use of it only for ranges of antenna height h
'
(0 and h
'
(0 for which
simple expression for
'
is obtained.
For a receiving antenna in shadow region of the last building on propagation path, rooftop-to-
receiver loss
'''
is given by Geometrical Theory of Di!raction [11] as follows:

'''
+!10 log

1
2kr
`
`
(3a)
where
r
`
"(r`
`F
#h`
'
+r
`F
for small
+tan

h
'
r
`F

h
'
r
`F

for small
k"wave vector"2/
The line where "0 rad represents the shadow boundary, where
'''
in (3a) is unbounded. In the
transition region about the shadow boundary, a transition function F(s) must be included to keep

'''
bounded by subtracting the pole at "0 rad to compensate the discontinuity. With the
PROPAGATION MODELLING FOR WLL CHANNEL 235
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
inclusion of transition function, rooftop-to-receiver loss
'''
is given by [9,12]

'''
+!10 log

" 2F(s)"`
1
2kr
`
`
(3b)
where
s"
kh`
'
2r
`F
"
kr
`F
2
h
'
r
`F

`
F(s)"transition function"(2s

2s

#jg

2s

.
The functions f (x) and g(x) can be obtained from the following rational approximations [13]:
f (x)"
1#0.926x
2#1.792x#3.104x`
, g(x)"
1
2#4.142x#3.492x`#6.670x`
(4)
Near the shadow boundary where s1, f (x) and g(x) in (4) are close to
`
so that " F(s) ""(s.
Substituting " F(s) " into (3b),
'''
"0 for h
'
"0 so that
'''
is continuous for the range of the
receiving antenna height h
'
)0.
3.2.1. Modixcation with COST 231-WI model and WB model. Free space loss
"
due to wavefront
spreading is given by

"
"32.4#20 log R
I
#20 log f
`
(5)
where R
I
is the antenna separation in km"0.001R

and f
+
is the frequecny in MHz.
Equation (5) corresponds to the "rst term in right-hand side of (2). Excess loss
'
of
COST231-WI model was obtained as

'
"
''"
#k

#k

log R
I
#k
D
log f
`
!9 log d (6)
Each term in (6) is given by

''"
"

!18 log(1#h
'
)
0
h
'
'0
h
'
)0
k

"

54 h
'
'0
54!0.8h
'
R
I
*0.5 and h
'
)0
54!0.8h
'
(R
I
/0.5) R
I
(0.5 and h
'
)0
k

"

18 h
'
'0
18!15 (h
'
/h
"'
) h
'
)0
236 D. HAR, C. XU AND H. H. XIA
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
k
'
"!4#

0.7([ f
`
/925]!1) mediumsizedcities and suburbancentres withmoderate tree density
1.5([ f
`
/925]!1) metropolitancentres
The term k

indicates the increase of the path loss for base station antennas below the rooftops
of the neighbouring buildings. The k

and k
'
represent the dependence of the multiscreen
di!raction loss versus distance and frequency, respectively. From Equations (3b), (5), and (6) the
overall path loss PL is given as
PL"
"
#
'
#(3b) (7)
Street orientation factor
''
[3] due to receiving antenna location relative to street grid has little
e!ect on path loss and is not included in (7). WB model can be modi"ed to account for the path
loss as follows:
PL"!10 log


4R

`
!10 log Q` (g
N
)#(3b) (8)
where Q(g
N
) in (8) is identical with that in (2).
3.2.2. Modixed HXB model.
'''
according to the Ikegami model [14] that includes contribution
of re#ected signal from the next building wall was obtained as

'''
"21.8#10 log f
'
!10 log d#20 log h
'
(9)
where f
'
is a frequency denoted in GHz. An anisotropic formula [7] which applies to all non-LOS
routes by explicitly including the distance r
`F
was obtained as
All non-OS Routes
PL"[139.01#42.59 log f
'
]![14.97#4.99 log f
G
] sgn(h
b
) log (1#" h
b
" )
#[40.67!4.57 sgn(h
b
) log(1#" h
b
")] log R
k
#20 log (h
r
/7.8)#10 log (20/r
2h
)
(10)
where
sgn(x)"signum function"

#1 x*0
!1 otherwise
r
`F
"distance in m from the last rooftop to receiver.
It is seen in Figure 3 that distance r
`F
in (10) is de"ned from the last rooftop, which is marked &L'
for peaked rooftop, to receiver Q on lateral route is large whereas r
`F
for receivers R, S are
relatively small.
Since the path loss expression in (10) was modi"ed from transverse route formula which is
pertinent to receiver location S,
'''
component in (9) can be removed from (10) by setting
d"2r
`F
. After the subtraction process, free space loss combined with multiple screen di!raction
PROPAGATION MODELLING FOR WLL CHANNEL 237
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
Figure 3. Simpli"ed footprint of townhouses
and ray paths associated with non-LOS routes
(modi"ed from Figure 25 in Reference [15]).
loss
"
#
'
can be expressed as

"
#
'
"[115.38#32.59 log f
G
]![14.97#4.99 log f
G
] sgn(h
b
) log (1#" h
b
")
#[40.67!4.57 sgn(h
b
) log (1#" h
b
" )] log R
k
(11)
The total path loss based on HXB model is modi"ed as
PL"(11)#(3b)
3.3. Both of the transmitting and receiving antennas below the rooftop (h
'
(0 and h
r
(0)
When both the antenna heights are below the rooftop level as shown in Figure 2(c) simple
approximation of path loss can be used for XB model. It is shown in Reference [4] that

'
according to XB model for transmitting antenna height at rooftop level can be obtained as

'
"!10 log (Q`
+
) (12)
where
Q
+
"1/M"d/R

, M"number of building rows between antennas for h


'
"0 (13a)
When a base station antenna is su$ciently below the rooftop so that the second row of buildings
lies outside the transition region of the "rst row of buildings, for the cylindrical wave incident on
the edge of the "rst row of buildings at an angle "!tan (h
@
/r
F
), the "eld reduction due to
238 D. HAR, C. XU AND H. H. XIA
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
Figure 4. Comparison of path loss values excluding rooftop-to-receiver di!raction loss according to four
path loss models for (a) 0.9GHz and (b) 1.9 GHz. Relevant parameters are antenna separation R
I
"1 km,
average building height h
"'
"8 m, average spacing of building row d"50 m, distance between base station
antenna and "rst building row r
"
"50 m (only for XB model).
the combined contributions of two cylindrical wave di!raction processes can be expressed as [16]
Q
+
+
1
(M!1)
1
(2kr

for h
'
(0 (13b)
where
r

"(h`
'
#r`
"
in m
The overall dB path loss based on XB model is then obtained from the summation of (3b),
(5) and (12).
PROPAGATION MODELLING FOR WLL CHANNEL 239
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241
4. COMPARISON OF PATH LOSS MODELS
Foregoing models for WLL systemdesign are compared with the range of relative antenna height
!5 m(h
'
(5 m. In Figure 4, we have plotted combined loss
"
#
'
at a distance of 1 km
for 0.9 and 1.9 GHz. For loss
'
due to intervening buildings, (13b) was used for XB model and
h
'
is taken to be zero in (2) for WB model. It seems that theoretical models WB model and XB
model are generally a little more pessimistic as compared to COST231-WI model and HXB
model. Path loss di!erence between XB model and COST231-WI model, HXB model increases as
antenna height of base station decreases, while the di!erence between WB model and the other
two models increases as the base station antenna gets closer to rooftop level.
5. CONCLUSIONS
In this paper we have discussed the path loss models for WLL design. Since most prediction
models for small cells assume receiver locations well below surrounding rooftop level, path loss
prediction for receivers on or near to the rooftop level is not well treated by such models. In order
to address the path loss prediction completely for various receiving antenna heights near to the
rooftop level, current small cell models have been modi"ed for WLL applications.
For "xed receiving antenna on rooftop, path loss model, which is based on the WB model, was
presented. In order to compensate the discontinuity in the transition region about the shadow
boundary of the last building on propagation path, a transition function was employed and used
for receiving antenna near to the rooftop level. With such change current small cell models such
as COST231-WI model, XB model, and HXB model are able to predict path loss for receiving
antenna height below or equal to the rooftop level. Depending on interested location of "xed
receiving antenna, appropriate model can be used in a handy way.
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AUTHORS' BIOGRAPHIES
Dongsoo Har received the BS degree and MS degree in Electronics Engineering from
Seoul National University in 1986 and 1988, respectively. He received his PhD degree
in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University in 1996. Since March 1996, he
has been a senior engineer at AirTouch Cellular. From 1988 to 1991, he was a member
of technical sta! at Korea Telecom Research Center, where he worked on speech
recognition. His research interests are RF propagation modelling, communication
theory, and microcellular radio network design.
Ce Xu holds an MS in system science and an MS in physics from Louisiana State
University (1994 and 1995); and a BS in physics from Beijing University (1991). He
started working at AirTouch Communications as a system consultant since 1996. He
has been involved with the system modelling and trials of CDMA, smart antenna,
two-paging and WLL systems. His current interest is in the area of wireless data and
IP applications.
Howard H. Xia was born in Canton, China, on August 16, 1960. He received the BS
degree in physics from South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China, in 1982.
He received the MS degree in physics in 1986, the MS degree in Electrical Engineering
in 1988, and the PhD degree in electrophysics in 1990, all from the Polytechnic
University, Brooklyn, NY. He is currently a principal engineer with AirTouch Com-
munications in Walnut Creek, CA. At AirTouch, he is responsible for system design
and optimization of analog and digital cellular networks. He has published more than
30 articles on subjects of spectrum sharing, CDMA systems design, indoor and
outdoor radio communications. He was the co-recipient of the IEEE Vehicular
Technology Society's 1993 Neal Shepherd Award for the best paper on propagation.
Since 1993, he has served as a member of United States delegations to participate in
ITU-R (formerly CCIR) activities on standardization of the third-generation interna-
tional mobile systems FPLMTS/IMT-2000. He was chairman of a working group which was in charge of the
development and deployment of models for selection of IMT-2000 radio transmission technologies.
PROPAGATION MODELLING FOR WLL CHANNEL 241
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Commun. Syst. 2000; 13:231}241