Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from all of us at Aviat Networks. Just as you are finishing those final gifting ideas for the winter, we would like to share a few thoughts from Travis Mitchell, Aviat Networks director of low latency business development. In the just published article “Microwave Technology for Low Latency Trading Networks” in Wall Street & Technology, Travis clears up the misconceptions that trading technologists may have about microwave communications, many of which have carried over from the age of analog radio and do not apply to digital microwave.
In addition, Travis spells out the advantages that low latency microwave has over fiber optic technology. Two of these are the point-to-point, direct line-of-sight communications between microwave stations and the absolute higher speed microwaves can achieve. In comparison, fiber communications oftentimes do not run directly from Point A to Point B but must instead wind their way around obstacles, burrow underground, climb tall buildings and so on before reaching their destination. This extra distance covered contributes delay to the overall latency experienced by trades sent via fiber as compared to microwave.
Then the immutable laws of nature tell us that microwave communications—even traveling through the atmosphere—approach very close to the speed of light. On the other hand, laser communications traversing the dense medium of fiber optics are much slower than the speed of light—many tens of percentage points slower than the speed of light.
To close, Travis briefly summarizes other factors that go into making low latency microwave networking the choice for traders over fiber, including minimizing the network route, maximizing the distance between microwave hops and using passive repeater technology, when appropriate. For the whole story, see the article. Other resources also include our low latency microwave white paper and low latency webinar replay.
After Superstorm Sandy more than 8 million people were without power on the East Coast of the US and Canada, including most of New York City.
The week of October 29, 2012, “Superstorm” Sandy made landfall in the Northeast United States. Combining a powerful hurricane with a fast-moving cold front resulted in one of the worst weather systems possible. Sandy also took shape during the full moon and high tide. The storm brought damage and destruction from the Carolinas all the way to Canada before it moved on. There was tremendous loss of power, communications and general destruction of infrastructure. Sadly, there were also a number of deaths from this powerful storm.
So what does that have to do with Aviat Networks? One of the AviatCare support services that we offer customers is a comprehensive Network Monitoring and Support service from our North American Network Operations Center (NOC) located in Texas. From that location, we have the ability to monitor, manage and dispatch resources to address customer issues with their networks. Even before the storm hit the Northeast U.S., our NOC was getting ready to ensure our customers would be prepared for this coming disturbance. With our ability to monitor weather events in real-time, we can see immediately what is affecting a customer’s network from a weather perspective.
In the path of the storm, we had two customers who rely on Aviat Networks for the monitoring and management of their networks from our NOC: an E911 Service in Virginia and a low latency network that runs from Chicago to New York City. First hit was the Virginia E911 customer’s network undergoing a glancing blow from the storm but no less destructive than what was soon to happen farther north. Three of the E911 sites were brought down by Sandy. Within eight hours of the storm touching Virginia, the NOC with support from our Technical Assistance Center (TAC) engineers had the customer back up and operational. We were able to do this 100 percent remotely without having to dispatch any field resources to site. Using the tools we have, we were able to remotely validate that there was no physical damage and all that had to be done was get power back up and reset the equipment remotely.
The Chicago-to-NYC network had bigger issues. The eastern end of this network bore the full brunt of the storm and suffered considerably. Three sites endured long-term power loss and two sites were blown out of path alignment. Even though it was outside of the scope of the carrier’s SLA, we located power generators and got them onsite in time to provide power before battery backup failed. This work started even while the storm was underway in the area. Resources got to the sites through severe flooding, virtually impassable roads and downed trees and power lines. In addition, someone returned to the sites every 12 hours to refuel the generators for three days running until power was finally restored. As soon as the storm passed, we collaborated with tower crews on site to realign the links back to operational status. Within 48 hours of the superstorm, the low-latency network was fully functional and carrying traffic within the parameters required to meet its customers’ requirements.
This was truly a team effort and involved the dedication of a large number of AviatCare resources as well as some of our key partners. This is just another example of how we can pull together to ensure our customers get a level of care that demonstrates our commitment to excellence. Whether it is a superstorm or a super number of tornadoes—which we had to address in 2011—our NOC and TAC teams know what it takes to support customers during and after a natural disaster. We never wish for these things to happen but it is critical that when they do our customers have the right level of support to ensure their networks are operational in the shortest time possible.
Director, Global Support Services
Are you considering building an ultra-low latency microwave network? Then you are not alone. Microwave is quickly becoming the default transport choice for low latency networks. However, building an ultra-low latency microwave network is not simple; there are many considerations. Latency through the “box” is important, but it is not the only factor, and too much focus on this metric may be a distraction. What is most important is end-to-end latency of the link. Aviat Networks recently addressed this topic in a webinar (registration required) and free presentation download and answered three very important questions regarding ultra-low latency microwave technology.
Also in this webinar, Travis Mitchell, Aviat Networks director of low latency business development, and Sergio Licardie, Aviat Networks senior director of systems engineering, consider the best practices for ultra-low latency microwave networks as they explore the techniques, technologies and design approaches necessary to ensure lowest end-to-end latency. They also discuss some innovations to look for in microwave networking to ensure continuous improvement in end-to-end latency performance. Other topics covered include:
- Main contributors to end-to-end latency of microwave networks
- Best options to reduce overall latency
- Strategies to avoid compromising overall availability