What is Mission Critical Microwave?

Public safety agencies with first responder assignments, mobile service providers with national footprints, and utilities companies all have communication networks carrying mission critical applications. These networks require robust, secure and powerful microwave radios.  

So what are the defining characteristics of Mission Critical Microwave?

  1. Hybrid (TDM and IP): Native TDM, native IP. No proprietary emulation or encapsulation.
  2. RF performance: Superior system gain. Adaptive Coding and Modulation.
  3. Reliability: 100+ year proven terminal (1+0) MTBF.
  4. Strong Security: Secure Management to prevent unauthorized access. Secure payload encryption to prevent eaves-dropping.
  5. Bullet Proof Redundancy: Full port, card, system level redundancy. Integrated T1 loop switch (USA).
  6. Physical Design for Usability: Front access, no hidden cables. Compact footprint. Expansion port.

 But delivering Mission Critical Microwave extends far beyond products and deals with the way a company behaves and treats its customers including:

  • A mindset that integrates uncompromised commitment to design and to building the most robust, secure and dependable microwave radios;
  • A culture of innovation to ensure the most innovative new microwave products are being developed to meet the needs of your critical applications;
  • Engineering professionals that are there at your side before, during and after any equipment deployment, to help you at every step of the way;
  • A commitment to customer service and support so that customers can depend on their chosen vendor.

At Aviat Networks, we believe one of the things that sets us apart is our focus on Mission Critical Microwave.  For critical applications it’s extremely important that customers have comprehensive local support at their fingertips. Our products are usually supported locally, so our customers know they’ll have immediate access to professional engineers when they need them, without waiting for out-of-country spares or support, including escalation to Tier III level technical support if needed.

At Aviat Networks, our engineers have been designing and building microwave networks for over 50 years. We are the microwave experts, because it’s all we do.

Gary Croke
Senior Product Marketing Manager

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FCC: New Spectrum for Wireless Backhaul, Relaxed ACM Rules

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On 9 August 2011, the FCC announced several changes to the rules (Part 101) that govern the use of microwave communications in the Fixed Service bands in the U.S. These changes are great news for operators and will be encouraging increased adoption of microwave technology as a wireless transmission alternative to fiber for next generation mobile networks and fixed/private networks.

New Frequency Band for Fixed Services

The FCC opened 650 MHz of new spectrum for Fixed Service (FS) operators in the 6875-7125 MHz and 12700-13100 MHz bands, which will be shared with the incumbent Fixed and Mobile Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) and Cable TV Relay Service (CARS). These bands will primarily be used as an alternative to the 6 and 11 GHz “Common Carrier” bands in rural areas, where the band is not currently licensed to TV mobile pickup stations used in newsgathering operations.

Frequency allocations in these new bands should commence later this year and will be based upon the existing 25MHz channelization. To facilitate adoption, the FCC is also allowing the use of 5, 8.33 and 12.5 MHz channels, as well as 50 MHz channel operation in the 12700-13100 MHz band using two adjacent 25MHz channels.

Allowing Adaptive Modulation

Adaptive Modulation, or AM—or ACM when used with Adaptive Coding—is a relatively recent innovation in microwave technology that allows the radio to dynamically adapt to path conditions to allow a much higher degree of spectrum efficiency, increased wireless link throughput, use of smaller antennas or a combination of all three benefits.

Up until now, the use of AM was restricted by the requirement to comply with FCC spectrum efficiency rules, which dictate a minimum data rate for certain bands. For example in the 6 GHz band a minimum capacity of 130 Mbit/s, or 3xDS3, must be maintained at all times within a 30 MHz channel assignment, using 64QAM modulation. The FCC now allows AM operation where the capacity of the link may drop below the minimum data rate, as long as the operators “design their paths to be available at modulations compliant with the minimum payload capacity at least 99.95 percent of the time,” or in other words, operators will have to “design their paths to operate in full compliance with the capacity and loading requirements for all but 4.38 hours out of the year.”

Aviat Networks, through our membership of the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC), supported rule changes to permit ACM, and the FCC included in its Rulemaking (Clause 48) our analysis on the benefits of ACM in terms of reducing the costs associated with tower leasing:

By way of hypothetical, consider a single link in the 6 GHz band that would require 10-foot antennas with a 99.999 percent standard instead of 6-foot antennas under the 99.95 percent standard. The total cost increase over a 10-year period in this hypothetical example could exceed $100,000.

The smaller antennas offer a number of advantages over larger ones, including more TCO savings over those 10 years.

Still Under Consideration by the FCC

Of all the new proposals being considered, the FCC also announced a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to further investigate the following proposals:

  • Allowing Smaller Antennas in Certain Part 101 Antenna Standards without materially increasing interference
  • Exempting Licensees in Non-Congested Areas from Efficiency Standards to allow operators to increase link length in rural areas
  • Allowing Wider Channels, including 60 MHz in the 6 GHz band, and 80 MHz in the 11 GHz bands
  • Revising Waiver Standard for Microwave Stations Near the Geostationary Arc to align with ITU regulations
  • Updating Definition of Payload Capacity rules in Part 101 rules to account for Internet Protocol radio systems

Aviat Networks continues to work on these issues, via the FWCC, which we believe will assist operators in lowering their total wireless network operational costs by taking advantage of the newest innovations that are now available in microwave technology.

With these new rules, along with the potential for further changes under consideration, microwave solutions provide an even more compelling case to enable mobile operators in the U.S. to keep pace with the IP mobile backhaul capacity demand driven by the introduction of new 4G wireless/LTE wireless networks.

Ian Marshall
Regulatory Manager, Aviat Networks

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