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February 1997



Wireless research leads
to indoor planning tool

Research on indoor wireless propagation in the Department's Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG) has led to the development of the first commercially available indoor/microcellular Site Modeling Tool. Called SMT Plus, the software helps planners with indoor site selection, system bidding and preliminary wireless system design.

"As researchers and industrial developers get more experience with wireless communications systems, they have found that planning techniques developed for the outdoors, do not work indoors," said Roger Skidmore a graduate student involved in the project. "Instead of wide open spaces, they have tight, closed areas with equipment such as microwave ovens and refrigerators that create interference noise."

Critical factors in indoor wireless systems include how the building is used, the type and placement of walls, and what equipment is used in the building.

"When establishing indoor or outdoor/indoor systems, planners generally make educated guesses as to how many transmitters are needed and where they should be put. Then they tweak the system and over-engineer it - which ends up costing more than it should," he explained.

With SMT Plus, planners can develop an accurate simulation with basic information about the building. The software draws coverage contours directly onto building floor plans, enabling designers to visualize the performance of the proposed system.

Skidmore explained that the development of SMT Plus resulted from MPRG expertise in path loss prediction and wireless simulations, and discussions with corporate affiliates about issues that will emerge in the future. "There is so much happening in the wireless field, however, that the time between university research and commercial applications has been compressed," he said. "Turnaround these days seems like it's just weeks." SMT Plus was developed by Skidmore and Professors Ted Rappaport and Lynn Abbott.


The Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, May 5, 1997
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