- February 15, 2013
- all-outdoor, Electronics and Electrical, Extremely high frequency, forklift upgrade, microwave, millimeter-wave, ODR, Radio, Radio frequency, technology, Telecommunications, Total Cost of Ownership
Photo credit: mrbill / Foter.com / CC BY
A quick Google-glance around the Internet will reveal a panoply of all-outdoor radios (ODRs) in both microwave and millimeter-wave bands. ODRs do not conform to a universal norm in terms of networking features, power consumption, bandwidth scalability (i.e., capacity) or outright radio horsepower (i.e., system gain).
So if you find yourself asking the questions, “Which ODR is the best fit for my network?” or “How do I narrow the ODR field?” it is good to start with the basics.
The right product choice can be quickly resolved—or at least the candidates can be short-listed—by focusing on three ODR product attributes that most heavily influence the value-for-the-money (i.e., total cost of ownership or TCO) equation:
- Packet throughput capacity, which dictates the usable life of the ODR
- Power consumption, which affects the energy bill
- RF performance, which impacts antenna size—more system gain equates to smaller antennas
For many microwave backhaul networks, the growth in underlying traffic is such that products which cannot scale to 500 Mbps/1 Gbps per channel will run out of momentum too early and precipitate the dreaded “forklift upgrade” (also known as the “CFO’s nightmare”).
These same CFOs are also suffering sleepless nights due to rising energy costs—which in some countries can double year-over-year. Therefore, it behooves the operator to seek and prioritize the use of über energy-efficient products, such as the Aviat WTM 3200, which—and this is important—do not compromise on RF performance.
That brings me to my last point: System gain (RF performance) remains a core TCO factor insofar as it can drive smaller antenna usage with the concomitant capex savings. Still, there might be little to differentiate ODRs in terms of RF performance—in which case the spotlight will fall on these other attributes to sway the decision.
Having worked on the operator side and wrestled with TCO analysis on many occasions, my experience tells me that you can narrow your ODR choice quickly by reflecting on these three attributes and the TCO gains they can deliver.
Product Marketing Manager
- All-Outdoor Microwave Radios: Site Considerations (aviatnetworks.com)
- CommScope Literally Writes the Book on the RF Path (virtual-strategy.com)
- A Simple RF Protocol (or, what is the point of ZigBee?) (mikestirling.co.uk)
- NYU WIRELESS Conducts 5G Measurements in New York City (geobrava.wordpress.com)
- World’s First Nodal Outdoor Radio (aviatnetworks.com)
- December 7, 2012
- best practices, Business, HFT, High Frequency Trading, Latency (engineering), Low latency, microwave network, microwave networks, Sergio Licardie, technology, Telecommunications, Travis Mitchell, ultra low latency
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
- November 16, 2012
- all-outdoor, Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, microwave, Microwave Radio, microwave radios, Microwave transmission, Radio, radio modem, radio sector, split-mount, technology, Telecommunications
One of the great things about the microwave radio market today is the diversity of products available to network operators. But like many situations where there is a glut of options, it tends to put more stress on making the right choice.
An operator looking at products in the microwave radio sector will notice that there are three general categories of product to choose from: all-indoor, split-mount and all-outdoor, and within each, they are myriad different flavors.
All-outdoor radios are the most recent addition to the microwave radio party, and for the sake of easy reference, I’ll refer to them as ODRs (outdoor radios). These self-contained systems incorporate the traffic interfaces, switching/multiplexing elements, radio modem and radio transceiver—all packaged in a weatherproof outdoor housing. By contrast, an outdoor unit (ODU) used in split-mount systems only contains the radio transceiver, which connects to a radio modem embedded in an indoor unit (IDU). In a split-mount radio system, the IDU also provides the traffic interfaces and switching/multiplexing elements.
The rationale for ODRs is straightforward—networks are getting denser, new sites are getting smaller and established sites more densely populated. Space for equipment such as IDUs is at a premium and costs of upgrading sites with bigger equipment shelters is often not viable or possible due to site constraints. As a result, more network devices are being repackaged for deployment outdoors on supporting structures such as towers, walls or masts. Advances in electronics have made microwave radios viable for all-outdoor treatment, so ODRs came into being.
They did so to a fanfare of claims that pointed to fantastic gains in terms of operator TCO (total cost of ownership). No doubt, an ODR can deliver cost benefits, but it is important to fully scope and quantify those benefits, because although ODRs represent simplification in terms of product architecture, most networks have remained stubbornly complex. In practical terms, this means for each type of site in the network an operator needs to closely examine the gains an ODR might generate vs. a split-mount radio, for example. Our experience is that ODRs provide the most operator benefits at sites where:
- One gigabit Ethernet (GbE) interface is adequate
- Only a single local device will be connected (such as an LTE basestation)
- There are no requirements to aggregate traffic from “downstream” sites
- Out-of-band management facilities are not required
- Non-protected (1+0) link configuration is adequate
Once operators consider sites with requirements beyond this scope—usually the majority—then ODRs (somewhat ironically) start to generate complexity and cost. This becomes manifest in the form of multiple Ethernet cable runs, multiple power cable runs, multiple PoE injectors, multiple lightning protection devices and, in some cases, the need for a separate outdoor Ethernet switch.
Even at modestly complex sites, the overhead costs ODRs can generate mean that a split-mount radio will often be a more effective option and deliver better TCO, assuming space can be found. On that note it is worth highlighting that IDUs already deployed at such sites are often modular and can be scaled without consuming any additional rack space, and the most advanced fixed (i.e., non-modular) IDUs only consume a half-rack unit of space.
On the surface, the case for ODRs can seem compelling but before jumping in, I would encourage operators to carefully examine how marketing claims translate into meaningful (real) TCO gains.
I am convinced ODRs represent a new and potentially very useful product category for microwave radio, but they are not a panacea; our experience (at Aviat Networks) is that optimum TCO is based on a mix of split-mount and all-outdoor radios (i.e., one “size” does not fit all).
So there you have it, in the right environment, an ODR can offer a winning formula but in other situations, it may not work so well. An old saying comes to mind: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.
Next time, we will examine ODRs in more detail, how they differ and how to choose the best option for your network.
Product Marketing Manager
Recently we’ve kicked off the “Aviat Technology Series” – which are a series of bi-monthly live video streaming webinars for our customers and partners, giving a detailed overview of various technology topics (these are NOT sales pitches…)
Last week, Stuart Little and I gave a live streaming video webinar where we gave an in-depth analysis of all the possible technology options for getting the most out of your microwave system including what’s possible, what’s not, and a realistic look at what you can expect to achieve. We covered the below topics:
• Options for maximizing IP microwave capacity
• Understanding capacity requirements: What’s real and what’s hype
• The timing/availability of new capacity improvement technology
We reviewed techniques for increasing spectrum, improving spectrum utilization and growing effective utilization using higher layer protocol optimizations. Technologies covered included: ling aggregation, co-channel dual polarization (CCDP), adaptive coding and modulation, 512/1024QAM, ethernet header compression, payload compression and asymmetrical RF.
We had lots of great questions and a ton of good feedback. Please email: email@example.com to get the URL for the microwave capacity webinar replay.
Thanks to all who participated and see you in 2 months for the next one when we’ll talk about “Ethernet Protection and Redundancy”
- FCC: New Spectrum for Wireless Backhaul, Relaxed ACM Rules (aviatnetworks.com)
- What is Packet Microwave? (aviatnetworks.com)
This white paper was extremely popular when we featured it in our eNews newsletter recently. Now it’s time to share it with a wider audience.
It talks about how there are several considerations when establishing realistic outage or reliability objectives for and how the effects of long-term and short-term outages differ when it comes to microwave path engineering.