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Fundamentals of Noise Interference

All applications require positive signal-to-noise (SNR) margins to transmit within allocated bit error rate (BER) levels. This means that the data signal being transmitted must be of greater magnitude than all of the combined noise disturbers coupled onto the transmission line (i.e. the structured cabling). As shown in figure 2, noise can be coupled onto twisted-pair cabling in any or all of three ways: 1. Differential noise (Vd): Noise induced from an adjacent twisted-pair or balanced cable 2. Environmental noise (Ve): Noise induced by an external electromagnetic field 3. Ground loop noise (Vg): Noise induced by a difference in potential between conductor ends

FIGURE 2: LAN Noise Sources Different applications have varying sensitivity to interference from these noise sources depending upon their capabilities. For example, the 10GBASE-T application is commonly recognized to be extremely sensitive to alien crosstalk (differential mode cable-to-cable coupling) because its digital signal processing (DSP) capability electronically cancels internal pair-to-pair crosstalk within each channel. Unlike pair-to-pair crosstalk, alien crosstalk cannot be cancelled by DSP. Conversely, since the magnitude of alien crosstalk is very small compared to the magnitude of pair-to-pair crosstalk, the presence of alien crosstalk minimally impacts the performance of other applications, such as 100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T that employ partial or no crosstalk cancelling algorithms.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) describes both a system's susceptibility to interference from (immunity) and potential to disturb (emissions) outside sources and is an important indicator of a system's ability to co-exist with other electronic/electrical devices. Noise immunity and emissions performance is reciprocal, meaning that the cabling system's ability to maintain immunity to interference is proportional to the system's potential to radiate. Interestingly, while much unnecessary emphasis is placed on immunity considerations, it is an understood fact that structured cabling systems do not radiate or interfere with other equipment or systems in the telecommunications environment! Differential noise disturbers: Alien crosstalk and internal pair-to-pair crosstalk are examples of differential mode noise disturbers that must be minimized through proper cabling system design. Susceptibility to interference from differential mode sources is dependent upon system balance and can be improved by isolating or separating conductors that are interfering with each other. Cabling with improved balance (i.e. category 6 and above) exhibits better internal crosstalk and alien crosstalk performance. Since no cable is perfectly balanced, strategies such as using dielectric material to separate conductors or using metal foil to isolate conductors are used to further improve crosstalk performance. For example, category 6A F/UTP cabling is proven to have substantially superior alien crosstalk performance than category 6A UTP cabling because its overall foil construction reduces alien crosstalk coupling to virtually zero. Category 7 S/FTP is proven to have substantially superior pair-to-pair and alien crosstalk performance than any category 6A cabling design because its individual foiled twisted-pair construction reduces pairto-pair and alien crosstalk coupling to virtually zero. These superior crosstalk levels could not be achieved solely through compliant balance performance. Environmental noise disturbers: Environmental noise is electromagnetic noise that is comprised of magnetic fields (H) generated by inductive coupling (expressed in A/m) and electric fields (E) generated by capacitive coupling (expressed in V/m). Magnetic field coupling occurs at low frequencies (i.e. 50Hz or 60 Hz) where the balance of the cabling system is more than sufficient to ensure immunity, which means that its impact can be ignored for all types of balanced cabling. Electric fields, however, can produce common mode voltages on balanced cables depending on their frequency. The magnitude of the voltage induced can be modeled assuming that the cabling system is susceptible to interference in the same manner as a loop antenna [1]. For ease of analysis, equation (1) represents a simplified loop antenna model that is appropriate for evaluating the impact on the electric field generated due to various interfering noise source bandwidths as well as the distance relationship of the twisted-pairs to the ground plane. Note that a more detailed model, which specially includes the incidence angle of the electric fields, is required to accurately calculate actual coupled noise voltage.


is the wavelength of the interfering noise source

A = the area of the loop formed by the disturbed length of the cabling conductor (l) suspended an average height (h) above the ground plane E = the electric field intensity of the interfering source

The wavelength, , of the interfering source can range anywhere from 500,000m for a 60 Hz signal to shorter than 1m for RF signals in the 100 MHz and higher band. The electric field strength density varies depending upon the disturber, is dependent upon proximity to the source, and is normally reduced to null levels at a distance of .3m from the source. The equation demonstrates that a 60 Hz signal results in an electric field disturbance that can only be measured in the thousandths of mV range, while sources operating in the MHz range can generate a fairly large electric field disturbance. For reference, 3V/m is considered to be a reasonable approximation of the average electric field present in a light industrial/ commercial environment and 10V/m is considered to be a reasonable approximation of the average electric field present in an industrial environment. The one variable that impacts the magnitude of the voltage coupled by the electric field is the loop area, A, that is calculated by multiplying the disturbed length of the cabling (l) by the average height (h) from the ground plane. The cross-sectional view in figure 3 depicts the common mode currents that are generated by an electric field. It is these currents that induce unwanted signals on the outermost conductive element of the cabling (i.e. the conductors themselves in a UTP environment or the overall screen/shield in a screened/fully-shielded environment). What becomes readily apparent is that the common mode impedance, as determined by the distance (h) to the ground plane, is not very well controlled in UTP environments. This impedance is dependent upon factors such as distance from metallic raceways, metallic structures surrounding the pairs, the use of non-metallic raceways, and termination location. Conversely, this common mode impedance is well defined and controlled in screened/fully-shielded cabling environments since the screen and/or shield acts as the ground plane. Average approximations for (h) can range anywhere from 0.1 to 1 meter for UTP cabling, but are significantly more constrained (i.e. less than 0.001m) for screened and fully-shielded cabling. This means that screened and fully-shielded cabling theoretically offers 100 to 1,000 times the immunity protection from electric field disturbances than UTP cabling does!

FIGURE 3: Common Mode Currents

It is important to remember that the overall susceptibility of twisted-pair cables to electric field disturbance is dependent upon both the balance performance of the cabling and the presence of a screen or shield. Well balanced (i.e. category 6 and above) cables should be immune to electromagnetic interference up to 30 MHz. The presence of a shield or screen is necessary to avoid electromagnetic interference at higher frequencies, which is an especially critical consideration for next generation applications. For example, it is reasonable to model that an emerging application using DSP techniques will require a minimum SNR of 20 dB at 100MHz. Since the minimum isolation yielded by balance alone is also 20 dB at 100 MHz, the addition of a screen or shield is necessary to ensure that this application has sufficient noise immunity headroom for operation.

Principles of cellular frequency reuse

In the cellular concept, frequencies allocated to the service are re-used in a regular pattern of areas, called 'cells', each covered by one base station. In mobile-telephone nets these cells are usually hexagonal. In radio broadcasting, a similar concept has been developed based on rhombic cells.

To ensure that the mutual interference between users remains below a harmful level, adjacent cells use different frequencies. In fact, a set of C different frequencies {f1, ..., fC} are used for each cluster of C adjacent cells. Cluster patterns and the corresponding frequencies are re-used in a regular pattern over the entire service area.

Frequency reuse plan for C = 3, with hexagonal cells. (i=1, j =1) Frequency reuse plan for C = 7 (i=2, j =1).

The total bandwidth for the system is C times the bandwidth occupied by a single cell.

Real-World Cells
In the practice of cell planning, cells are not hexagonal as in the theoretical studies. Computer methods are being used for optimized planning of base station location and cell frequencies. Path loss and link budgets are computed from the terrain features and antenna data. This determines to coverage of each base station and interference to other cells.

Source: Siemens TORNADO D Cellular Planning Tool

Reuse Distance
The closest distance between the centres of two cells using the same frequency (in different clusters) is determined by the choice of the

cluster size C and the lay-out of the cell cluster. This distance is called the frequency 're-use' distance. It can be shown that the reuse distance ru, normalised to the size of each hexagon, is
ru = SQRT{3 C}

For hexagonal cells, i.e., with 'honeycomb' cell lay-outs commonly used in mobile radio, possible cluster sizes are C = i2 + ij + j2, with integer i and j (C = 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, ...). Integers i and j determine the relative location of co-channel cells.

7-cell reuse with i = 2 and j =1.

Spectrum Efficiency
In most cellular systems, each base station can carry more than one telephone call in its cell. If the number of parallel channels per base station is denoted by M, the total bandwidth for the cellular net Bs is the product of the occupied bandwidth per channel BT, the number of channels per cell M and the cluster size C. Thus Bs = M C BT. The spectrum efficiency SE of a cellular net can be defined as the carried traffic per cell Ac, expressed in erlang, divided by the bandwidth of the total system Bs and divided by the area of a cell Su. So

Ac SE = ----------BT C M Su

Here, Ac is mostly computed from Erlang B formulas, with Ac equals the attempted traffic multiplied by the probability of success (= 1 - blocking probability).

Mostly, the spectrum efficiency is expressed in erlang/MHz/km2. Thus, we observe that the spectrum efficiency decreases with the cluster size C. System performance, for instance expressed in terms of the outage probability or the bit error rate

experienced by the user, improves with increasing re-use distance, so it improves with the cluster size. Hence, achieving high system performance and efficient use of the radio spectrum are conflicting objectives for a network designer.

Broadcast Networks
The concept of regular frequency reuse patterns is also used for broadcast transmitters. One example is the planning of local (30 watt) radio stations in The Netherlands and Belgium. The channel spacing 100 kHz. Frequencies used are 105 MHz + k * 100 kHz, where k is the channel number in the following figure.

Figure: Typical 31- frequency reuse pattern for FM radio (CCIR).

Digital Modulation
Digital modulation schemes transform digital signals like the one shown below into waveforms that are compatible with the nature of the communications channel. There are two major categories of digital modulation. One category uses a constant amplitude carrier and the other carries the information in phase or frequency variations (FSK, PSK). The other category conveys the information in carrier amplitude variations and is known as amplitude shift keying (ASK). The past few years has seen a major transition from the simple amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM) to digital techniques such as Quadrate Phase Shift Keying (QPSK), Frequency Shift Keying (FSK), Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) and Quadrate Amplitude Modulation (QAM). For designers of digital terrestrial microwave radios, their highest priority is good bandwidth efficiency with low bit-error-rate. They have plenty of power available and are not concerned with power efficiency. They are not especially concerned with receiver cost or complexity because they do not have to build large numbers of them.

On the other hand, designers of hand-held cellular phones put a high priority on power efficiency because these phones need to run on a battery. Cost is also a high priority because cellular phones must be low-cost to encourage more users. Accordingly, these systems sacrifice some bandwidth efficiency to get power and cost efficiency. Every time one of these efficiency parameters (bandwidth, power or cost)is increased, another one decreases, or becomes more complex or does not perform well in a poor environment. Cost is a dominant system priority. Low-cost radios will always be in demand. In the past, it was possible to make a radio low-cost by sacrificing power and bandwidth efficiency. This is no longer possible. The radio spectrum is very valuable and operators who do not use the spectrum efficiently could lose their existing licenses or lose out in the competition for new ones. These are the trade offs that must be considered in digital RF (Radio Frequency) communications design.
The move to digital modulation provides more information capacity, compatibility with digital data services, higher data security, better quality communications, and quicker system availability. Developers of communications systems face these constraints: available bandwidth permissible power inherent noise level of the system The RF spectrum must be shared, yet every day there are more users for that spectrum as demand for communications services increases. Digital modulation schemes have greater capacity to convey large amounts of information than analogue modulation schemes.

The Fundamental Trade-off:

Over the past few years a major transition has occurred from simple analogue Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency/Phase Modulation (FM/PM) to new digital modulation techniques. Examples of digital modulation include: FSK (Frequency Shift Keying) QPSK (Quadrature Phase Shift Keying) QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) MSK (Minimum Shift Keying)

Frequency Shift Keying - FSK

What is FSK

The two binary states, logic 0 (low) and 1 (high), are each represented by an analogue waveform. Logic 0 is represented by a wave at a specific frequency, and logic 1 is represented by a wave at a different frequency. Below shows the basic representation.

With binary FSK, the centre or carrier frequency is shifted by the binary input data. Thus the input and output rates of change are equal and therefore the bit rate and baud rate equal. The frequency of the carrier is changed as a function of the modulating signal (data), which is being transmitted. Amplitude remains unchanged. Two fixed-amplitude carriers are used, one for a binary zero, the other for a binary one. You can see from the movie below how the FSK wave form is generated. Note when the edge of a a new logic level enters the transmitter the frequency of the output.