In mobile networks, interference is an unwanted unlicensed signal affecting the licensed channels, causing extra noise. Interference on the RF level translates into a lower Signal-to-Noise-Ratio (SNR), Received Signal Strength Indicator, Ec/Io, etc. From a subscriber’s point of view, interference is perceived as distorted audio or video, low data rates or dropped calls. In short: a bad user experience. For network operators, interference drastically reduces the capacity of the network, affecting revenue and incurring costs. With the proper interference hunting tools, unwanted signals (and costs) can be avoided.

In the early days of mobile communications, it was common for operators to delegate interference issues to regulatory authorities. Today, network and services companies can choose from a wide range of specialized tools for locating and mitigating unwanted signals themselves. In fact, they have no other choice if they want to keep network capacity high. Not only are new technologies more sensitive to interference, but the amount of interference is reaching a critical high. Reasons for this include an increasingly dense spectrum, more network deployments, and more electronic devices.

What could be an interference source? Well, pretty much any electric and electronic device, from lighting, industrial equipment, and baby monitors to intentional sources such as jammers. Damaged and rusty components can also be the cause of interference, as our experts, Paul Denisowski, Applications Engineer, and Peter Busch, Sales Manager, explained in our latest webinar “Identifying and Eliminating Interference in Mobile Networks”. It is not easy to quantify the impact of interference on network capacity; however, estimates clearly show the necessity of interference hunting, as Paul demonstrates.

Key elements for successful interference hunting

In the webinar, our experts lay down the three key elements for successful interference hunting. These include a proper technique, the proper tools, and experience.

  1. Technique: In the webinar, Paul guides the audience through the steps of the interference hunting process, usually starting with alarms at the OSS. With the proper tools, interference signals can be identified, and sources can be narrowed down to a small area, before finally being located.
  2. Tools: As a leading global supplier of mobile network testing solutions, among others to authorities, we offer the proper tools. In the webinar, Peter provides an overview of the tools that can support network operators and service companies to quickly and easily identify and locate interference. Our interference hunting product portfolio ranges from an entry-level spectrum analyzer and a directional antenna to a fully automatic location solution based on a portable receiver. Peter also discussed the advantages of using a scanner and mobile phones for coverage and subscriber-level measurements. He shows how a list of interferers is automatically generated based on scanner measurements or how test mobiles aid the process of interference detection.
  3. Experience: Throughout the webinar and during the Q&A session at the end, Paul and Peter share their extensive expertise, pointing out particularities and offering advice and recommendations.

Questions about interference hunting tools

The webinar attracted specialists working mainly for leading mobile network operators, testing service providers, infrastructure vendors, and regulators. Participants and registrants came from over 120 countries. During the live Q&A session, Paul and Peter answered many questions from audience members. For example, how can one calculate the financial impact of interference regarding costs for infrastructure and personnel? How important is it to combine good and efficient tools with knowledge and experience?

Questions about the tools concerned the differences between a spectrum analyzer and a receiver. Key differentiators are speed and sensitivity. A receiver is faster and more sensitive. While a spectrum analyzer will do the job just fine most of the time, in occurrences with tricky signals, using a receiver will make a substantial difference. Many participants were keen to also learn more about the MobileLocator’s advantages. With its capability to handle multi-path propagation, the compact direction finder (DF) system is ideal for urban or dense environments.

Passive intermodulation

Another topic of interest was the evergreen passive intermodulation (PIM). The audience wanted to know more about its internal and external interference properties and how to best handle these. Paul and Peter clarified this by directing participants’ attention to our PIM analyzer for tackling internal interference issues (check out our posts on PIM). PIM identified as a source of external interference can be handled just like any other type of interference.

There were many other questions, but due to the webinar’s limited time, not all could be answered during the live session. Paul and Peter addressed them individually offline. You can also contact us via this channel or our Support Portal. In case you missed the webinar, watch it here.

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