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Fundamental Equation for Free

Space Propagation
• The radio transmission loss is given by

• The basic concept in estimating radio transmission loss is the loss

expected in free space. We assume the medium to be homogeneous
and non-absorbing with dielectric constant,  =1.

• In free Space, electromagnetic waves spread uniformly in all directions

(isotropically) from a point source.
• The power density in the wave, which is the power per unit area of the
wavefront, will be

…. (1)

WT = average power radiated equally in all directions,

4d2 = surface area of the sphere of radius d, centered on the source.

• Since all practical antennas have directional characteristics i.e. radiate

more power in some direction and less power in some direction.

• The directivity gain is defined as the ratio of actual power density along
the main axis of radiation of the antenna to that which would be
produced by an isotropic antenna at the same distance fed with the
same input power.
• Maximum directivity gain of the transmitting antenna is given by

… (2)

• Under matched condition, power delivered by the antenna to the

receiver will be

… (3)

where Ae = effective aperture area

• For any antenna, the maximum directivity gain and effective area are
related as
… (4)

• So, equation (3), becomes

… (5)

This is the fundamental equation for free space propagation or FRISS

FREE SPACE equation in S.I. units for antennas in a loss-free medium.

• This was derived in 1945 at Bell Labs by Harald T. Friis.

• We may describe spatial attenuation as

• In logarithmic form,
… (6)

• So, FRIIS equation in logarithmic form becomes

… (7)
We can also have the fundamental equation to find electric field
strength of the wave at the receiving antenna for free space conditions
using Poynting Theorem as follows


By equation (2),

… (8)

For isotropic antenna,

• FRIIS equation shows that more power is lost at higher
frequencies. This is why mobile phones generally operate at less than
2 GHz as associated path loss for frequencies greater than 2 GHz will
not enable quality reception.

• From equation (6), it can be concluded that by reducing the spatial

attenuation by 6 dB, the range of the transmitting antenna can be
Thank you.