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Industry News

The importance of average vs. peak performance in wireless

November 14, 2008
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Published Tuesday, November 18, 2008 | Last Update 11.18.08
Here are your replies to the November Expert Advice column

Moray Rumney
When I was growing up my favourite book was undoubtedly the “Guinness Book of World Records”. I used to dip in and out of it searching for the craziest extremes of human experience, be they through human achievement or simply the result of extremes in natural human variation. It was not until many years later that I discovered a much less well-know but arguably much more important book called the “Mackeson Book of Averages”. Mackeson is a brewer of stout but is not nearly as well-known as the much larger Arthur D. Guinness Company. The book of averages was Mackeson’s idea to poke fun at their rival’s other most famous product being the Book of Records. It has to be said that averages are far less exciting than records, but there is also a human fascination in comparing ourselves to the norm of society, be it salary, weight, height, or size of some other part of our anatomy. Mackeson pointed out another thing in favour of a book of averages: it doesn’t need to be reprinted nearly as often since averages change much more slowly than peaks!


Reference Guide Winner

Comments: Here is a good sample of the meaning of numbers and marketing. We have seen this type of engineering beginning with the capacity improvements to analog. Back then in the US NAMP's was touted as a 3 to 1 improvement over AMPS. However when it was deployed widely it was discoved, among other things, that adjecent channel interference effected the reuse and the improvement bacame less then the ideal and shortened it's value as a stop gap to digital. So to with LTE we hear the numbers but of course it's an ideal world number, with good RSSI and good S/N. Saidly the world is not that way and most of it has low RSSI. Hence slower speeds. It will be an improvement but I can't see how it will be such an improvement over the current 3G technologies. Time will only tell.

David Donaldson, Verizon Wireless
11/21/2008 3:15:55 PM


Response from the Author: In general I agree with your comments. There are widely varying opinions on the added value of LTE and other new technologies but it is rare to get a comparison which includes the necessary variables to make a fair comparison. Through ignorance or avoidance, performance figures are quoted in a way that does not allow them to be understood in the context of real life operation. This is not to say that improvements will not eventually come: There has been perhaps a 10x growth n average efficiency in wireless since 1992, but this trend is set to slow down as we get closer and closer to the theoretical limit imposed by interference in the networks. To make further progress in delivering wireless capacity and data rates we have to look at changing the network topology rather than improving macrocell efficiency alone. Moray.


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