Neustadt am Rübenberge is a town in the northwest of Hannover with an area of 359 km2. Only about 18,000 inhabitants live in the city centre. The remaining 23,000 inhabitants live in the surrounding 33 villages. Neustadt am Rübenberge is the ninth largest town in Germany in terms of area on the list of all German cities. The average population density is 126 inhabitants per km2 and if you subtract the inhabitants in the core city then it is only 56 inhabitants per km2 outside the core city. Neustadt has large areas with moor areas and military training areas.
Cellular coverage by three operators
The cellular network operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica operate 40 base stations on the 359 km² area. This means that each of the network operators has an average of approx. 13 base stations. If you divide the 359 km² by 13 base stations you get about 27.6 km² coverage per base station. In the core city of Neustadt you will find 8 sites. Another base station is located outside with 52 m height a few 100 m at the edge of the industrial area. At the same site there are another 6 sector antennas at a height of 38.7 meters. The other base stations are distributed with an antenna height of 17-35 m in the city area. Even though the number of base stations is very high and some wind turbines are used to install the antennas with a height of 52 m and 60 m, there are some white spots in the city of Neustadt. The LTE network coverage maps from Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom were captured as a screenshot in December 2018 and then overlaid in a photomontage. Since NB-IoT is a subset of LTE, an NB-IoT supply can only be used where LTE is radiated. It can be seen that both network operators have radio holes in different areas.
The locations of the 40 base stations were taken from the online database of the Federal Network Agency and transferred to a Google Maps map with altitude information. The colours for the different construction heights make it easy to see that high locations above 40 m antenna height can be found outside the city centre. Two of these high sites are located at wind turbines and another one hidden in an old windmill. That the antenna system has to be in the windmill can be deduced from the fact that there are no other tall buildings or wind turbines to be found besides the windmill. In the city centre there is an antenna system with an antenna height of 25.6 m at a location where there are also no tall buildings. From this we can deduce that the antenna system is located in the church tower. Further base stations can be found on the hospital on the outskirts of the city (28 m), on industrial buildings in the industrial area (17.4 m) and on multistorey houses near the Sparkasse (25.7 m) in the middle of the city. The highest antenna in the city is located on a radio tower (35 meters).
Picture of the 40 base stations – just zoom out to see them all
The link below shows all sites for the cellular antennas in the city of Neustadt and a couple of locations near the city of Neustadt online. The grey marked zone is marks the area of the city with its 33 villages. All locations were provided with the height data at the Federal Network Agency and the height of the locations was marked with colors. Red was chosen for low sites (15-20m), yellow for medium sites (21-34m), green for high sites (35-49m), blue for very high sites (50-100m) and violett for extremely high sites (>100m). The extremely high site with a height of 120 m is located on a tower on the outskirts of Neustadt. The upper map gives you the freedom to zoom in and out and to open the map in full screen as well.
Outlook for a private LPWAN in Neustadt
For the simulation of a private LPWAN we will take some of the known sites of cellular network operators and use them in the planning of the radio network. In order to make the simulations and coverage comparable, in the first step we will use the 25 m height already used as in the previous simulations near the island of Helgoland. There are no islands in the path of the radio wave like in the former simulation in the North Sea close to Helgoland, but the area around “Neustadt am Rübenberge” has a few hills. This leads to the limitation of the range by the topography. In addition, the opposite can be seen well. The moor west of Neustadt is a very flat environment without buildings only covered with low trees and shrubs. This leads to the fact that the radio wave covers the complete inland lake called „Steinhuder Meer“. A similar result can be achieved by using the Cellmapper to evaluate the mobile base station of the cellular network operators. Cellmapper is some free of charge software for smartphones to analyse the cellular network. The base station in the city of Neustadt reaches the lake and the village of Mardorf on other side of the lake.
Locations at Google Maps: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Je3Bgj_2zDSyAw-VFShiqhk6NAAUsCrE&usp=sharing
Locations at the Federal Network Agency: https://emf3.bundesnetzagentur.de/karte/
Anyone who is planning their own private LPWAN is welcome to contact us. We would be happy to explain how to use the software to simulate a wireless network in workshops or online seminars. If you don’t plan your own network and want to use an existing one and want to develop your own PCBs for this purpose, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to share our experience from the numerous LPWAN projects with you. Please send your requests to harald.naumann(at)lte-modem.com