When considering cell site analysis, a question that often pops up is, “do I need a survey?” Well, first it is important to discuss what an RF survey actually is. 
 
A Radio Frequency Propagation Survey is the process of gathering readings from various locations or routes, ascertaining what cells on a specific network provide service to that area. This work is completed by trained technicians with specialised equipment to assist in gathering some ground truth data to support cell site analysis. 
 
The ranges of cells vary depending upon the location of the site and the surrounding environment. Typically, the density of masts will be determined by projected traffic levels and the availability of physically placing a mast at a required location. This will result in a higher density of masts in urban areas with each cell providing service to a proportionally smaller area. 
 
Each cell will provide coverage over an area. The size and shape of this area will vary depending upon many factors including: 
 
• Predicted density of users. 
• Topography. 
• Location of other masts. 
• Operator intent of cell. 
 
When considering your case, it is important to take a view on whether the prosecution have gathered survey measurements, and if not, do you need them. 
 
As the onus of evidence gathering is placed upon the Prosecution, it is procedure for the Prosecution to gather RF survey measurements at locations of interest relating to the case. RF measurements are especially important for the Prosecution to gather since they are able to secure access and authorisation for these locations in a timely manner and often know of these location way in advance of the defence, which reduces the potential of subsequent network changes to the RF environment at these locations. 
 
As we all know, the telecoms networks are all in a race to provide the best service to their customers, and with Ofcom announcing that more of the radio spectrum is to be released for consumer use, there is only ever going to be more changes and more advancements. 
 
It is therefore hugely important to gather survey measurements as close to the time of significance as possible to avoid the loss of the evidence. The evidence at this point is the picture of coverage each network provides to your significant location, which may, if left too long, change a few months later. 
 
For example, in May 2019, 5G (New Radio) began its roll out in the UK with major cities (like London) being the first to see 5G implementation. This implementation is still ongoing and may have affected cells of interest as the networks ‘re-farm’ old cells by decommissioning them to then be replaced with 5G technology. 
 
Because of this, it is typical for the defence to analyse the effectiveness of the Prosecutions surveying procedure and if acceptable, utilise the results in their own analysis since the Prosecutions RF results would more accurately reflect the RF environment at the dates/times of offence/incident. 
 
So, in conclusion, if the prosecution has gathered survey measurement, this may, be the best evidence, however, if they have not, you may want to consider your own survey. 
 
If you’re not sure, get in touch, our expert is fully trained in RFPS and Cell Site Analysis and can offer a free no obligation strategy for your case. 
 
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