18-759   Wireless Networks

Location: Africa

Units: 12

Semester Offered: Spring

Course discipline


Course description

This course introduces fundamental concepts of wireless networks and systems. These fundamentals aim to help a student understand any type of wireless network application or technology. It covers the theory of wireless propagation and the associated path loss phenomena. The course focuses on understanding the effects of the channel on signal propagation for broadcast and line-of-sight wireless systems. It looks at mobile cellular networks and satellite systems in detail. The course also covers spread spectrum systems (FHSS and DSSS) in line with their application scenarios in the real world. Other topics include a look at error performance in a wireless channel for different modulation schemes, and noise and interference effects. Research directions are introduced in this course, with discussions of heterogeneous cellular networks, distributed antenna systems, energy-efficient design of cellular systems, cloud radio access networks, 5G, mmWave propagation, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based mobile base stations, etc. Students are assessed through several labs, homework, a mid-semester exam, and a final group project. The course has no prerequisites.

Learning objectives

Students are introduced to the components of a wireless network, from the transmitter side to the receiver side. It looks at the theory of propagation models in different scenarios, and the associated path loss modeling for these scenarios. It focuses on broadcast systems like mobile cellular and line-of-sight systems such as satellite links. It considers specifically the effects of atmospheric absorption, rain, and the curvature of the earth on the design of long-distance terrestrial line-of-sight systems. Students will understand how to determine the link budget of the link, including system effects outside the wireless channel. Individual practical labs are designed around these theoretical topics to help students gain a deeper understanding. Students also cover ideas around performing a survey and writing a survey report on a given topic. Students learn how to plan a cellular network using an industry-grade planning tool.


At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Explain how multipath fading affects signal propagation in a wireless network.
  • Explain the difference between and effects of large-scale and small-scale propagation.
  • Design long-distance terrestrial line-of-sight links considering rain and atmospheric effects as well as the earth’s curvature.
  • Design satellite links and understand how satellites work, including the global positioning system (GPS).
  • Ability to carry out a research survey on a given topic in literature and write a summary paper on the same.
  • Explain how spread spectrum systems work in comparison with other channel access approaches.

Content details

  • Overview of wireless networks and their components
  • Line of sight propagation and path loss modeling
  • Fading and other multipath effects
  • Effects of the earth’s curvature, rain effects, and atmospheric absorption
  • Cellular network systems and planning
  • Satellite systems, including GPS
  • Spread spectrum systems
  • Advanced topics from research


Edwin Mugume