APCO 2012: Broadband for Public Safety in Sight

It is August and Minneapolis, Minn., is readying itself for the annual gathering for the APCO show. However, this year, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) show will be much different as the promise of broadband for public safety is now within sight! But before we start the sprint to the finish line, we still have some hurdles left to overcome:

  • FirstNet board decisions on network requirements and vendor choices for implementation      (that is once a board is in place)
  • States definition of needs requirements including cooperative agreements between states      and local municipalities

We will hear how systems integrators are developing business models that help limit the OPEX costs for the networks and bring the critical technical LTE skills to the party.

With very difficult financial limitations, innovation and teamwork will be required to make this network work. Look for vendors that bring new ideas to the game that help address these monetary challenges. How do we help limit CAPEX and OPEX while still offering the outstanding reliability/performance required of a mission critical network?

Aviat Networks knows backhaul will play a much larger role in the financial measures of the broadband network (perhaps as much as 30 percent of CAPEX)! Our solutions take advantage of existing deployed backhaul radios in public safety networks (more than 18,000 radios deployed in state/local networks today) and those of our competitors (estimated in excess of 30,000 radios). “Reuse—whenever possible” must be part of every conversation.

In addition, Aviat Networks’ ProVision monitoring/management platform and NOC Managed Services allow the state/local entity to much more cost effectively maintain their networks…to mission-critical standards. OPEX savings of more than 25 percent may be achieved by being able to predict problems before they occur and to be able to quickly diagnose and address them when they do occur. IP networks involve more complex failure mechanisms than TDM networks. Aviat Networks’ Advanced NOC Services capability offers the IP insight needed to fully understand loading, demand changes, networking issues quickly and avert bottlenecks before they occur.

If you would like to hear more on any of these topics, I invite you to come and see us at APCO.

Randy Jenkins
Director Business Development
Aviat Networks

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FCC Rule Changes Lower the Cost of Microwave Deployments

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Last Friday, 03 August 2012 saw the release of FCC Report and Order 12-87, which contained some significant changes that will lower the total cost of ownership for many microwave links. The two most significant changes concern antenna sizes and wider bandwidths.

Following lobbying by Comsearch and the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC), within which Aviat Networks plays an important role, the FCC has allowed an additional alternative set of antenna parameters to be used in the 6, 18 and 23GHz bands. These new parameters are an alternative to the existing antenna parameters, which have been retained. It is worth noting that while the FCC does not specify actual antenna sizes, the realization of antennas based upon these new parameters does represent a reduction in size and thus provides for the reduced cost of both CAPEX and OPEX that has already been championed by Aviat Networks and other interested parties. The new working alternative antenna parameters are as follows:

  • 3 feet for the 6GHz band
  • 1 foot for the 18GHz band
  • 8 inches for the 23GHz band

To put these changes into perspective the typical cost of renting space for an antenna on a tower is US$400 + US$100 per foot (diameter) per month. So a link consisting of two 6ft antennas will cost 2x (400 + 6×100) = $2000 per month, i.e. $24,000 per annum.

If the antenna diameter could be reduced to 3 feet the cost is reduced to 2x (400 + 3×100) = $1400 per month, i.e. $16800 per annum—a saving of $7200 per year on a single link!

The above calculations are not only ours but also those of MetroPCS, which is quoted in the report and order. MetroPCS specifically notes, as an example, that “the cost of a microwave dish antenna is approximately $100 per foot per month. Thus, even if the revised rule allows for a reduction of just one foot, the annual savings would be $1,200, and the savings over a ten year period would be $12,000.”

Smaller antennas also open up more options in terms of locations for these antennas, and their smaller size reduces wind loading and the need for specialist mountings and strong towers.

Additionally, the FCC in a further notice of proposed rule making attached to this report and order seeks feedback on allowing similar alternative antenna parameters in the 11 and 13GHz bands. Aviat Networks intends to support this proposal via the FWCC.

Other Changes

With the ever-growing demand for bandwidth the FCC has decided to allow aggregation of two 30MHz channels in the 6GHz band and two 40MHz channels in the 11GHz band, giving maximum bandwidths of 60MHz and 80MHz, effectively allowing a doubling of the capacity of a microwave link. This represents another significant cost saving because this increased capacity can be achieved with the same amount of hardware.

Also in this report and order were changes to the definition of efficiency standards to a bits/sec/Hz standard as proposed by the FWCC, and a clarification of the definition of payload capacity: “The bit rate available for transmission of data over a radiocommunication system, excluding overhead data generated by the system.” The FCC has also introduced a welcome simplification of the rules with regard to bit rate efficiency. FCC Part 101.141 has been amended to include a table (below) that details the efficiency criteria according to two frequency ranges and three bandwidth ranges:FCC new bits/sec/Hz efficiency standard

Aviat Networks welcomes the FCC’s progressive changes as the amendments will stimulate the microwave industry and enhance the cost effectiveness of microwave networks across the United States. We expect the rule changes to be effective approximately in October.

Ian Marshall
Regulatory Manager
Aviat Networks

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Is the Backhaul Really the Bottleneck for LTE?

Is Backhaul the LTE Bottleneck?The popularity of smartphones and tablets, motivated by the launch of the iPhone (2007) and the iPad (2010) have created a dramatic increase in mobile data consumption. The need to provide higher throughputs at the base station level to serve this demand has concerned operators, equipment vendors and industry watchers about a possible bottleneck in the backhaul network.

The basis for this concern is that microwave technology will not be able to provide enough capacity, and that only fiber is able to meet the capacity needs of 4G/LTE networks. This apprehension is being capitalized on by some optical network providers who argue that fiber connections are needed to provide gigabit levels at each base station. Although a gigabit connection in each base station is desirable, extremely high costs, slow deployment and inflexibility of fiber optic networks prevent this from being a viable option for operators who are CAPEX and OPEX constrained.

Aviat Networks’ studies, based upon our early involvement in some of the largest LTE network deployments, show that an average of 100 to 200 Mbps of backhaul capacity per LTE cell site is more than adequate and easily achievable with current microwave technologies. Read the white paper below or see our case study on a national U.S. LTE operator.

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RAN Capacity Optimization Through IPoTDM Microwave Transport

This brief white paper summarizes how an IP-over-TDM (IPoTDM) approach can facilitate microwave network evolution to all-IP, consolidate the transport and management of circuit- and packet-based wireless network services in a single physical RAN infrastructure, and allow operators to address CAPEX and OPEX cost challenges by leveraging existing TDM transport resources to the maximum extent possible.

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