Using metropolitan scale Digital Surface Models for wireless network coverage analysis

The slow propagation of the NBN and the constant demand for high bandwidth services such as Netflix, Stan etc. has created a niche for high bandwidth point to point links and wireless DSL providers. Here are some of their taglines:

“The future’s not faster cables, it’s NO cables” – NuSkope

“Wireless broadband delivers gigabit speeds to residents and businesses now” – Uniti Wireless

“Satisfy your need for speed without the NBN!” – Lightning Broadband

Planning for the point to point links requires detailed knowledge of the line-of-sight since propagation at these frequencies (2.4GHz, 5.8GHz and 24GHz) can be very sensitive to clutter and multi-path interference. Aerometrex provides detailed (50 cm cell spacing) Digital Surface Models to numerous players in the Wireless Broadband segment. One such project was with Uniti Wireless, helping them build a web tool for their customers to analyse the feasibility of receiving a connection as well as an internal tool for planning deployment of new towers.

Adelaide, Melbourne and Mt. Barker datasets (7,280 sq. km., 122 GB binary data) were ingested into a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database, indexed and stored procedures built to extract full-resolution transects 10 km long in less than 1 second. Performing line-of-sight operations requires reprojection to ENU (East-North-Up) projection relative to the location of the tower. Algorithms were built to re-project from MGA Zones to ENU per analysis and calculate LoS and Fresnel zones. The availability of the accurate DSM and associated rapid/scalable analysis tools has enabled the wireless service providers to expand rapidly and cover most customers with the most efficient placement of towers.