Investigation of Prediction Accuracy, Sensitivity, and Parameter Stability of Large-Scale Propagation Path Loss Models for 5G Wireless Communications

Shu Sun, Theodore S. Rappaport, Timothy A. Thomas, Amitava Ghosh, Huan C. Nguyen, Istvan Z. Kovacs, Ignacio Rodriguez, Ozge Koymen, Andrzej Partyka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper compares three candidate large-scale propagation path loss models for use over the entire microwave and millimeter-wave (mmWave) radio spectrum: The alpha-beta-gamma (ABG) model, the close-in (CI) free-space reference distance model, and the CI model with a frequency-weighted path loss exponent (CIF). Each of these models has been recently studied for use in standards bodies such as 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and for use in the design of fifth-generation wireless systems in urban macrocell, urban microcell, and indoor office and shopping mall scenarios. Here, we compare the accuracy and sensitivity of these models using measured data from 30 propagation measurement data sets from 2 to 73 GHz over distances ranging from 4 to 1238 m. A series of sensitivity analyses of the three models shows that the four-parameter ABG model underpredicts path loss when relatively close to the transmitter, and overpredicts path loss far from the transmitter, and that the physically based two-parameter CI model and three-parameter CIF model offer computational simplicity, have very similar goodness of fit (i.e., the shadow fading standard deviation), exhibit more stable model parameter behavior across frequencies and distances, and yield smaller prediction error in sensitivity tests across distances and frequencies, when compared to the four-parameter ABG model. Results show the CI model with a 1-m reference distance is suitable for outdoor environments, while the CIF model is more appropriate for indoor modeling. The CI and CIF models are easily implemented in existing 3GPP models by making a very subtle modification-by replacing a floating non-physically based constant with a frequency-dependent constant that represents free-space path loss in the first meter of propagation. This paper shows this subtle change does not change the mathematical form of existing ITU/3GPP models and offers much easier analysis, intuitive appeal, better model parameter stability, and better accuracy in sensitivity tests over a vast range of microwave and mmWave frequencies, scenarios, and distances, while using a simpler model with fewer parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7434656
Pages (from-to)2843-2860
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016


  • 5G
  • Millimeter wave
  • path loss models
  • prediction accuracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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