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We examine some of the key issues facing radio network design engineers as they set about planning third generation networks in urban areas. 3G networks have one major difference compared with their second generation (2G) predecessors; they are designed to support data rates of up to 2 Mbit/s, and hence a much wider range of services. It also means that the task of designing and planning 3G networks become far more demanding because of the wide variation in the type and mix of traffic offered. We show the importance of having good models for traffic and user distribution in radio network planning and we also discuss the requirements of 3G planning tools. We highlight some of the challenges associated with using multi-tier cellular structures (e.g., macrocells and microcells) and discuss some of the factors that influence design decisions. At present, most of the focus of 3G network operators is on network rollout. However, if 3G becomes the hoped for runaway success, then the problems of designing high capacity, high quality urban networks are likely to present themselves sooner rather than later. Therefore, these issues need to be considered now.
Date of Conference: 8-10 May 2002