Wireless LOS Terminology

November 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Why Line of Sight (LOS) is so important

 

Sample of LOS and Fresnel Zone Diagram

When designing an outdoor wireless network, ask yourself this: what is between point A (antenna 1) and point B (antenna 2)? This path between two antennas is referred to as the Line of Sight (LOS).

 

There are three main categories of Line of Sight. Full Line of Sight (LOS) is where no obstacles reside between the two antennas. Near Line of Sight (nLOS) includes partial obstructions such as tree tops between the two antennas. Lastly, Non Line of Sight (NLOS) is where full obstructions exist between the two antennas.

 

By determining the specific Line of Sight conditions in the WiFi network area you can then determine the correct type of wireless system to install.

 

Another common term to be aware of is The Fresnel Zone, referenced in the diagram above. It is is an electromagnetic phenomenon where light waves or radio signals get diffracted or bent from solid objects near their path. The radio waves reflecting off the objects may arrive out of phase with the signals that traveled directly to the receiving antenna, thus reducing the power of the received signal.

 

Line of Site (LOS) Overview Diagram

Print and post the above diagram.

 

For indoor wireless network installations it is important to consider obstacles such as walls, ceilings, and furniture that will affect Line of Sight since these all play a role in wireless signal reception. In wireless transmissions, reflections (when wireless signals "bounce" off objects) and multipath (when wireless signals travel in multiple paths arriving at the receiver at different times) are as important as signal strength in determining the success of an installation. A signal will also exhibit peaks and nulls in its amplitude and alteration of its polarization (vertical or horizontal) when propagating through walls, ceilings and reflecting off metallic objects. 

 

Path Loss is another area of concern when dealing with Line of Sight. For instance, although 2.4 GHz signals pass rather well through walls, passing through trees and leaves is a challenge. This is due to the difference of water content in each. Radio waves in the 2.4 GHz band absorb into water very easily, so the high level of moisture in trees or leaves would trap the waves. When faced with nLOS or NLOS conditions due to trees, 900 MHz is your best choice as it is not absorbed like 2.4 GHz.

 

 

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