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International Journal of Antennas and Propagation
Volume 2015, Article ID 184608, 11 pages
Research Article

Ray Tracing RF Field Prediction: An Unforgiving Validation

1Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Energia Elettrica e dell’Informazione “Guglielmo Marconi”, Alma Mater Studiorum, Università di Bologna, 40136 Bologna, Italy
2Polaris Wireless Inc., 301 North Whisman Road, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
3NYU Wireless Center of Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York University, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA

Received 2 June 2015; Revised 23 July 2015; Accepted 26 July 2015

Academic Editor: Jose-Maria Molina-Garcia-Pardo

Copyright © 2015 E. M. Vitucci et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The prediction of RF coverage in urban environments is now commonly considered a solved problem with tens of models proposed in the literature showing good performance against measurements. Among these, ray tracing is regarded as one of the most accurate ones available. In the present work, however, we show that a great deal of work is still needed to make ray tracing really unleash its potential in practical use. A very extensive validation of a state-of-the-art 3D ray tracing model is carried out through comparison with measurements in one of the most challenging environments: the city of San Francisco. Although the comparison is based on RF cellular coverage at 850 and 1900 MHz, a widely studied territory, very relevant sources of error and inaccuracy are identified in several cases along with possible solutions.