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Cell Clusters Minimize Interference in Cellular Networks

May 23, 2016

Cell Clusters Minimize Interference in Cellular Networks

Radio transmitters within a wireless network only have a specific coverage area beyond which the signal level falls so low that it can't be used. At this point, it will also not cause significant interference to a mobile device connected to another radio transmitter. This makes it possible to re-use a channel once it is outside the range of a specific radio transmitter. The same holds true for signals that can only be received over a certain range.

A network operator will typically split up their coverage area into smaller regions called cells. Each cell is then covered by a different transmitter. This is why it is called "cellular" technology. In a drawing, the cells are often shown as hexagonal shapes that fit together like a honeycomb. This is not really the case. Their boundaries are often irregular because of the terrain over which signals travel. Buildings, hills and any other object will cause the signal to attenuate differently in different directions.

When a cellular network is planned, operators normally use different frequency channels or bands for adjacent cells. This reduces interference even when coverage areas overlap. When cells are grouped together in this way, it is called a cluster. Clusters are often made up of seven cells, but they can be configured differently. When the number of cells in a cluster is decided on, a number of conflicting requirements need to be balanced. These include the number of frequency channels or bands that can be used by each cell site, and limiting interference levels.

It is critical to limit the interference between cells using the same frequencies. The cell configuration topology impacts on this in a big way. The more cells in a cluster, the bigger the distance between cells sharing the same frequencies needs to be.

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  • At first I was like say what? The more I read this, the more I understood how cellular networks operate. I’m not quite there yet for 100% comprehension, but I’m getting there.

    Quinn Keating on
  • I didn’t know that cell regions overlap or the difficulty they can cause. I guess they are something like neighbors LOL. The system capacity in a cellular network is apparently important, especially given the discussion of cluster size in a cellular system. With that in mind, are there any frequency reuse factor formulas for planning out cellular networks? Would these help with cell clusters in mobile communication as discussed?

    Jim Donaldson on
  • That adage “You learn something new everyday” definitely applies when I come to I like reading about cell phone boosters, DAS construction, and various aspects of enhancing your cell phone calls. However, I never knew where the term cellular technology came from. It makes a lot more sense now that you guys broke things down.

    Donnie Yates on

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