4 Realities about Rain Fading in Microwave Networks

Rain fading (also referred to as rain attenuation) at the higher microwave frequencies (“millimeter wave” bands)  has been under study for more than 60 years. Much is known about the qualitative aspects, but the problems faced by microwave transmission engineers—who must make quantitative estimates of the probability distribution of the rainfall attenuation for a given frequency band as a function of path length and geographic area—remains a most interesting challenge, albeit now greatly assisted by computer rain models.

A surprising piece of the puzzle is that the total annual rainfall in an area has almost no correlation to the rain attenuation for that area. A day with one inch of rainfall may have a path outage due to a short period of extremely high localized rain cell intensity, while another day of rain may experience little or no path attenuation because rain is spread over a long period of time, or the high intensity rain cell could miss the microwave hop completely.

Over the years, we have learned a lot about deploying millimeter wave microwave hops for our customers:

  • Rain outage approximately doubles in each higher millimeter wave band, e.g. 18 to 23 GHz
  • Rain outage is directly proportional to path length—assuming a constant fade margin for each hop
  • Rain outage in tandem-connected short hops is the same as for a single long hop—if they have the same fade margin
  • Multipath fading in optimally aligned millimeter wave hops does not occur during periods of heavy rainfall, so the entire path fade margin is available to combat rain attenuation fades

More information about assessing rain-induced attenuation is available in our white paper, [pardot_download_link file_id=”329669″ link_text=”Rain Fading in Microwave Networks” link_title=”Request whitepaper: Rain Fading in Microwave Networks”].

  • The influence of rain attenuation (sce.carleton.ca)
  • The World’s Longest All-IP Microwave Link (aviatnetworks.com)
  • Comparison of Multiple Rain Attenuation Models with Three Years of Ka Band Propagation Data Concurrently Taken at Eight Different Locations (spacejournal.ohio.edu)
  • Microwave Wireless Backhaul Case Study: Tooele County (Utah) (aviatnetworks.com)
  • Proposed Rain Attenuation Model Revised From ITU Used For Prediction in Tropical Climates (aprsaf.org)

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