Low angle view of 5G antenna with modern skyscrapers and financial buildings

4 reasons why accurate RF planning needs an automated antenna relocation tool

Gavin Hayhurst
May. 16 2023

Modern RF planning products such as Planet are extremely powerful and capable of amazingly accurate predictions of network coverage, capacity, throughput and quality. But prediction accuracy is only as good as the site database on which it is based. With every new release of Planet, we add new functionality to help engineers plan more accurate networks and do so more efficiently. As RF planning engineers go about their day-to-day jobs, adding new sites to the network and optimizing existing ones it is often the small unassuming features of a planning tool that take it from competent, to a joy to use.

One such feature is the Antenna Relocation Tool (ART) recently introduced in Planet. It is a small simple tool, but one that can save an engineer many hours of laborious work.

What is the Planet Antenna Relocation Tool?

The ART tool does what it says on the tin. It relocates antennas that are not quite in the right place. It assesses an antenna against the map data in Planet and moves the antenna slightly to the location where it is most likely installed in the live network. For example, it is unlikely that an antenna is installed 5m inside a building and so modeling an antenna in this location will not show true-to-life propagation predictions. Similarly, it is also unlikely that an antenna was installed looking directly at an adjacent building. For your RF planning to be accurate, each antenna needs to be moved to its correct location. 

The ART tool works on 2D, 2.5D and 3D maps. Where clutter data maps are used, the ART tool will adjust the height of antennas that are currently below the building clutter height. Where 3D building polygon data exists, the ART tool can move antennas to the façades of buildings. It can move antennas along the buildings to achieve the required clearance angles to adjacent buildings and it can consider rooftop furniture on buildings and ensure the antennas are not obstructed by these blocking objects.

The ART tool can be run on one antenna, one site, a cluster of sites or the entire network and many parameters within the algorithm such as clearance search distance and maximum relocation distance can be configured by the user. 

When might the Antenna Relocation Tool be used?

To improve the accuracy of a site database

With many mobile networks over 20 years old now, it is likely that some sites have not had their antenna locations validated in many years and it is likely that map data accuracy has been improved during that time. This means many antennas could do with a location tweak to closer align them to where they are installed in the live network and therefore improve the prediction accuracy of the planning tool.  

When map data is upgraded

If you have recently upgraded your map data from 2D or 2.5D data to high-resolution 3D polygon data it makes sense to ensure that antennas are correctly placed on buildings now that this information is available within Planet.

When conducting planning services for an operator

As a network equipment provider or services company, you might receive a site database from a customer to conduct an optimization exercise or perhaps roll-out a new technology such as 5G. It makes sense to run a validation on all antennas in the database and tweak them as necessary to ensure the most accurate predictions possible. This is especially true if you are using higher-resolution 3D data and the customer is not.

When assessing candidate site locations

If you are deploying new sites, you may have 2-3 candidate buildings identified for each site. It makes sense that each of those candidates has their antennas placed in the optimal location so that an Automated Cell Planning (ACP) tool can consider each one accurately. Ensuring candidate sites have antennas moved to the building facades and have sufficient clearance angles to adjacent buildings will ensure that each candidate can be accurately assessed and appropriately ranked by the ACP tool.  

So, there you have it, the Antenna Relocation Tool, a simple but efficient tool to automatically update your antenna locations and improve the accuracy of your propagation predictions within Planet.

If you would like to learn more about Planet or the Antenna Relocation Tool, please contact us.

More helpful resources:

Learn more about Planet
Read the latest Planet newsletter
Read our whitepaper on the evolution of 5G network planning
Read our whitepaper on mmWave planning

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