Aviat Networks installed an entirely off-the-grid microwave repeater and spur atop 11,000-foot Mt. Otto in Papua New Guinea. Image credit: Shutterstock
In all its years, Aviat Networks has installed a great many microwave radios and in some very interesting places. On the sides of the largest dams. On top of the most famous bridges. Deep in the Aboriginal Outback. Way out to sea. In the frozen wastes of the Great White North.
Our latest triumph of man and mechanism over elements comes by way of Papua New Guinea, one of the last lands to be touched by the progress of high technology.
Deep in the heart of this primordial island nation, an imposing mountain stands: Mt. Otto, nearly 11,000 feet (3500m) of steep slopes and very little summit. Few people climb it. There are virtually no roads of which to speak. The only practical way to bring wireless telecom gear up is via helicopter.
However, Aviat Networks was equal to the challenge. Aviat’s services department is loaded with can-do problem-solvers keen to tackle projects like this. In this case, a critical issue for the Mt. Otto site revolved around power. Issue resolved with a big Eltek generator, part of an amazing energy solution that powers an Aviat WTM 6000 14+2 repeater with a 7+1 spur—all built to run at Mt. Otto’s high altitude without supervision for extended periods. If we look a bit closer at the site specs, we will see:
- 2 x WTM 6000 15+0 Ethernet with 1+1 SDH (design capacity of 3Gbps; normal operation close to 4Gbps)
- 1 x WTM 6000 6+0 Ethernet with 1+1 SDH (design capacity of 1.5Gbps normal operation; close to 2Gbps)
- 12 foot antennas in a Space Diversity configuration across a 91km path
- 8- and 10-foot antennas to other spur sites
To keep the site online, an array of 96 solar panels powers the microwave radios with 24 kW of electricity. As backup, the 80KVA Eltek generator provides up of five days of continuous current in case of extended cloudy weather. It is capable of this as it runs on fuel that’s kept warm in a modular container. Otherwise the fuel would freeze solid in the thin mountain air. A large battery installation provides an extra five days of backup power. Those same solar panels top off the charge on these 57,000 pounds (25,704 kg) of batteries. It’s a closed system completely designed for 100 percent off-the-grid operation.
To complete the site, required dozens of sorties airlifting personnel and all the material necessary to build and install the site. Overall, the Mt. Otto site is an amazing accomplishment in a super remote and hard-to-get-to place.
Recently, telecom research firm Heavy Reading conducted a survey of mobile network operators (MNOs) from the around the world exclusively for Aviat Networks. The goal of the survey was simple: determine the sentiment of MNOs to provide fixed wireless services to enterprise customers.
Now that the growth rate of individual wireless subscribers has leveled off in many nations with mobile penetration rates near and even exceeding 100 percent, MNOs have begun to look very seriously at alternate sources of revenue growth. And one of those alternatives is fixed wireless enterprise services, which according to Heavy Reading, MNOs rank as a co-strategic priority along with their core subscriber business.
MNO Enterprise Services survey results infographic. Click to enlarge.
Enterprise services are all very well and good but how does an MNO deliver them? The answer is not as complex as you may imagine but somewhat more difficult in reality. While MNOs have robust infrastructure based on rock-solid microwave backhaul technology to the cell sites at the edges of their networks in the majority of cases, they do not have an easily deployable method of supporting fixed wireless services to enterprises. One such way would be via Layer 3. In the survey, Heavy Reading found that a supermajority, or 70 percent, of MNOs believe that Layer 3 (L3) capability from the cell site is “critical” or “very important” to enable new service delivery.
However, L3 capabilities are not the end of the story. Layer 3 services are packet-based and require IP/MPLS routing functionality in order to operate. Accordingly, the MNOs surveyed by Heavy Reading reflect this outlook by an overwhelming 75 percent stating that IP/MPLS is “critical” or “very important” for offering fixed wireless services to enterprises. In addition, 75 percent of MNOs also believe it is “critical” or “very important” that existing cell site equipment be made capable of delivering these fixed wireless enterprise services. The existing cell site equipment is quite capable of delivering Layer 2 (L2) fixed wireless services, but help is needed to go the next step up to L3.
“Whilst L2 can be used to deliver business services, our survey results suggests that most mobile operators are very interested in the additional benefits of L3 including MPLS,” says Patrick Donegan, senior analyst, Heavy Reading. “They also tend to value very highly the ability to deliver those business services from existing equipment at their cell sites.”