Short haul microwave is one of the fastest-growing transmission mediums in all types of telecom environments, from cellular to private networks. And it’s one of the easiest to install, maintain, update and expand.
Here’s some things you should know about short haul microwave:
1. Installation can be extraordinarily simple and modular. Many radios and antennas are small and easy to handle, with but a few cable connections required for installation. Further, some need only a couple of tests run on them before they’re ready for operation.
Most systems should be operational the day after the equipment arrives, at the very least. One hop microwave radio systems, meanwhile, should take about half a day. (Seriously, folks, you’d be surprised how easy some of these systems are to work and set up editor.)
2. Initial cost of short haul 20 microwave equipment and installation usually is far less than installing copper or fiber. There also is a quick payback on a minimal investment because operating costs are very low. Annual operation evaluation and the cost of electricity, which is minimal, are usually the only operating expenses.
3. Short haul microwave has a long fife and high mean time between failure (i.e. they don’t screw up very often). Reliability is of prime importance if your operations rely on consistent transmission. Look for equipment that’s already proven it can last failure free for a long time and with an expected lifetime of up to 20 years.
4. Short haul makes for excellent hot standby equipment. Because of its reliability, ease of use, etc., microwave has shown it’s a very nice, completely redundant, backup signal path in many private networks. For users who have gone this route, circuit availability has been enhanced to the point where an outage rarely occurs.
5. The simplicity of short haul microwave makes it very versatile. That is, if the maker has built versatility into their hardware. A manufacture should offer a wide range of interface units for data, voice and video.
It’s also beneficial if the maker can change an interface without requiring new or modified microwave radios. The cost of upgrading with additional capacity or different features should cost far less than purchasing a new system.
The ability to expand technology in the midst of growth is important to all telecom applications, and there’s no difference here. If a customer starts with a smaller network, adding capacity should be simple and ample with expansion up to DS 3 (45 Mbps), no sweat.
Adding capacity through a single manufacturer that has all the radios to meet intermittent needs provides a smooth transition from, say, DS 1 up to DS 3. Ifs similar to advancing to a more powerful engine from General Motors: you begin with a Chevrolet; grow into an Oldsmobile; and graduate into a Cadillac. Be sure the short haul microwave radio manufacturer offers a complete line.
6. Interconnecting two facilities can be as simple as a one-hop line of sight transmission path. These hops are typically less than 10 miles (and affected by the amount of rain fall or climatic condition in an area). Drier western states generally can have longer transmission distances between locations. If a larger network is required, repeaters can be strategically placed in order to boost or veer the signal around an obstruction such as buildings or mountains.
7. In many cases, microwave is the only cost effective solution for certain communication requirements. This is particularly true when a signal needs to cross a street, river or highway and you must obtain right of way or incur construction costs, which are usually prohibitively expensive.
8. Microwave, as opposed to cable, makes for an excellent alternate means of transmission for critical telecom applications. It’s a good disaster avoidance alternative because it is less susceptible than cable or fiber to natural disaster. This is a big application for microwave.
9. Short haul microwave has good overall circuit availability when properly designed and implemented. Find a short haul microwave maker with expertise in system design, implementation and installation, and you’ll find yourself a very reliable system.
When engineered properly, microwave can provide the high circuit reliability needed for even extraordinarily critical applications.
This story talks solely about the most prevalent short haul transmission solution microwave radio technology. Of course, there are other available short haul technologies, most notably infrared, which parallels microwave with some obvious similarities though there are differences).
Infrared is based on the transmission of an information signal through the atmosphere (like microwave). In this case it’s a light signal, rather that a high-frequency radio signal (actually, light is closely related to microwave on the electromagnetic spectrum).
Like microwave, infrared systems need a clear line of sight, but can be bolstered by repeaters to avoid roadblocks and increase distances. Unlike microwave, infrared is far more susceptible to attenuation from fog, smoke and the shimmer of heat waves than to losses caused by rain (which is the main weather condition that screws up microwave). Infrared systems are generally as reliable as microwave systems for distances up to one-half mile under most conditions (microwave radios work over 10 miles in good conditions). And infrared needs a far smaller beam clearance area than microwave because infrared beams don’t spread out as much.
Reaching speeds up to DS 3 rates (they’re used a lot in video applications), the biggest advantage infrared has over microwave is there are no regulatory restrictions on its use. No fuss. No muss. Just buy the baby and fire it up. They’re usually very small and fairly easy to
Following this article you’ll find the names and numbers of the major short haul players. However, we’d like to highlight one new microwave company in particular because we’ve only recently discovered them. We figured we’d familiarize you with them, ever so briefly.
E&M Development makes a complete line of microwave systems that range in frequencies from 10 to 23 GHz. They’re called the Bi-Directional Systems and they handle a sundry list of applications, from local loop bypass to LAN extending to video links, etc. Diversified Marketing exclusively markets the products.
It would be impossible to go through their entire product line. It’s too broad. Why don’t you caN Diversified, tell them what your application is (they do a lot of work in video/TV) and find out what they offer. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Some technologies don’t require that much manufacturer involvement. Not so with short haul microwave radios. In this case, a crate full of equipment isn’t going to do a customer a lot of good without service and support from the maker.
Service means different things to different manufacturers, but a customer should expect no less than on going maintenance, systems engineering support, installation services, frequency coordination and assistance with licensing.