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Free space path loss


L = fspl(R,lambda)


L = fspl(R,lambda) returns the free space path loss in decibels for a waveform with wavelength lambda propagated over a distance of R meters. The minimum value of L is zero, indicating no path loss.

Input Arguments


real-valued 1-by-M or M-by-1 vector

Propagation distance of signal. Units are in meters.


real-valued 1-by-N or N-by-1 vector

The wavelength is the speed of propagation divided by the signal frequency. Wavelength units are meters.

Output Arguments


Path loss in decibels. M-by-N nonnegative matrix. A value of zero signifies no path loss. When lambda is a scalar, L has the same dimensions as R.


Calculate free space path loss in decibels incurred by a 10-gigahertz wave over a distance of 10 kilometers.

lambda = physconst('LightSpeed')/10e9;
R = 10e3;
L = fspl(R,lambda);

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Free Space Path Loss

The free-space path loss, L, in decibels is:


This formula assumes that the target is in the far-field of the transmitting element or array. In the near-field, the free-space path loss formula is not valid and can result in a loss smaller than 0 dB, equivalent to a signal gain. For this reason, the loss is set to 0 dB for range values R ≤ λ/4π.


[1] Proakis, J. Digital Communications. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Introduced in R2011a

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