The Shift to Microwave Broadband Is Coming Sooner than You Think

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The tide is shifting on acceptance and adoption of microwave radio as a viable alternative or supplement to fibre and economics may dictate more of the same.

For many in the telecommunications industry the recognition of microwave as a viable alternative to fibre to create carrier grade bandwidth with industry leading latency is not old news.

It has been frustrating to witness that the marketplace has not recognized this fact in a substantial and meaningful way. That does appear to be changing.

Late last year, Jason Bunge of Dow Jones wrote about the pace and level of high speed microwave adoption that has taken place recently in the securities exchange markets in North America and Europe. His article highlights how the deployment of high speed broadband over microwave is about to outpace fibre network deployment this year. As Bunge notes this is an industry where milliseconds count and where the highest standards of speed and network reliability are considered essential.

What is driving the change is cost efficiency and timeliness as the exchange business needs to address declining trade volumes by increasing speed and efficiency in their markets without breaking the bank to do it.

Many consider the capital markets to be technology leaders in the Financial Services (FS) sector and highly influential concerning the use and adoption of technology and telecom innovation. If the leaders of the FS sector are ready to make the jump to microwave radio it bodes well for the broader adoption of this standard within that sector and beyond.

Consider for a moment that the economics is driving the shift away from fibre and it becomes clear that there are other sectors that could likewise realize the same benefits and make the switch. If not for primary connections to office locations, it will be used as secondary to locations that have fibre available. Industries like oil and gas extraction, mining, Manufacturing, retail and the public sector are all witness to both exponential growth in data and the opportunity to use data to quickly and effectively deliver innovative new products and services to an increasingly “high demand” business place. If it is also recognized as an alternative or supplement that is more cost effective than traditional fibre deployment, widespread adoption of microwave radio  is not far behind? It is not the innovation of technology that is the biggest driver of change but the “mother of necessity” economics that makes change all the more compelling.

– Rob Barlow, CEO

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | www.wireie.com |info@wireie.com

Fiber and Wire Roadblocks: How Microwave can Help

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The typical forms of voice and data transport for Carrier Ethernet Services are fiber and copper. While both provide connectivity in access networks, fiber is favoured for its prolific capacity, and copper is most widely used in environments with an existing telephone network . However, there are times when physical, geographical, legal, political or financial obstacles will stand squarely in the way of digging ditches, raising poles and pulling wire.

Overcoming the Obstacles

This is where microwave steps in. Even in the most challenging of circumstances, the combination of digital radio and Carrier Ethernet services can offer excellent flexibility, reliability, bandwidth and quality of service at a realistic price:

  • Right-of-way: Because microwave uses radio spectrum, it can navigate physical barriers such as private property
  • Service-aware traffic management allows you to differentiate voice and data packets by type, to avoid bottlenecks and smooth demand.
  • Rural and third world: In these environments, often with poor legacy communications, microwave extends your connectivity reach
  • Planning issues: Digital radio leapfrogs complex planning approvals that can slow the progress of fiber or copper installations in densely populated urban areas
  • Temporary links: Digital radio is a great choice for temporary sporting or entertainment events
  • Physical hurdles: Water, roads and challenging terrain can all complicate, or defeat, terrestrial installations
  • Security concerns: The threat of human or environmental interference, especially the increasing theft of copper in some countries, makes traditional installations more risky and less advisable

Low Cost Gigabit Ethernet Services

Today’s digital radio technologies are capable of providing rapid connectivity and delivering Gigabit Ethernet services across any terrain, over significant distances. Recent technical developments also enable digital radio to function in lower frequency bands without line-of-sight. Plus, in many environments, this technology can provide the lowest cost per bit for Ethernet service transport.

Remote Site Connectivity

Here are just some of the ways you can use microwave technology to connect the remotest or most rural of locations:

  • Broadband networks to support the conversion to digital TV
  • Broadband networks to support DSL access in rural areas by overcoming the distance limitations of the DSLAM and broadband backbone
  • Fiber backup routes to provide redundancy, diversity and network protection
  • Network extensions to reach remote locations

So, whether you’re looking to extend service in areas where fiber and copper are not available, or need a high-performance back-up route to ensure failsafe communications, digital radio is a highly competitive choice with an impressive performance history.

For more information about Microwave Technologies for Carrier Ethernet Services, download this MEF document

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | www.wireie.com |info@wireie.com

Microwave and Carrier Ethernet: Separating Fact from Fiction

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If you want to cause a stir, walk into a room full of seasoned technicians and mention microwave. Citing the twin fears of limited capacity and weather-dependent performance, many will offer stories of past problems without realizing that, like many other things in life, microwave has moved on.

The Future is not the Past

The legacy-based, analog solutions of the past bear no resemblance to modern microwave. Dismiss the new developments, and you could find yourself missing out on the many business benefits that today’s digital radio technologies bring.

Increasingly, organizations are discovering the advantages of a converged network platform that combines Carrier Ethernet and point-to-point digital radio to provide a new, highly effective method of voice and data transport. With the benefit of alternative thinking, smart solutions providers are overcoming terrestrial challenges and building advanced communications networks in some surprisingly remote areas – where often dial up had been the only option.

Two Strong Technologies

In response to our appetite for higher bandwidth and budget-conscious performance, over the past decade Carrier Ethernet has moved to centre stage – and continues to evolve today. Checking all the boxes, it’s a quicker, simpler and cheaper way to connect people with information. Plus, with Ethernet, it’s easy to build extensions or make adjustments down the road. And terrestrial microwave has proven to be an excellent partner for fiber in access networks – playing an increasingly valuable role in support of rich media applications like video, VoIP and disaster recovery.

The Question of Capacity

It’s time to dispel some of the myths and reveal the facts about microwave:

  • Gigabit capacity is already a reality – and it’s enough for most Carrier Ethernet applications.
  • Service-aware traffic management allows you to differentiate voice and data packets by type, to avoid bottlenecks and smooth demand.
  • Adaptive code modulation technology increases bandwidth capacity and also means you can deploy microwave equipment in densely populated areas.
  • Nodal function optimizes radio bandwidth resources and makes it easier for you to scale.
  • Packet technology is flexible, which means you can use microwave to get an optimal increase in data rates.
  • Over-air capacity is increased with microwave by using multiple transmission channels at different carrier frequencies. Capacity has also grown through enhancements like cross polarization, interference cancellation and data compression.

The Latest Weather Report

Although weather can affect microwave, technology enhancements have made it easier to deal with bad conditions, and custom-engineered links are specifically designed to account for the elements:

  • Adaptive modulation protects your network from weather effects by varying radio throughput, making adjustments according to the performance of air interface channels.
  • Frequency diversity makes your network resilient to bad-weather fading.

A New Form of Transport

The evolution of microwave technology offers a valuable opportunity to combine Carrier Ethernet services with digital radio to provide end-to-end network transport services. Offering limitless reach, this converged platform will give you the performance and capacity to communicate faster and more flexibly at a price that suits your CFO – even when geography is not on your side.

Backhaul Solutions for Backhaul’s Sake

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Today, operators in many parts of the world are supporting multi-generation wireless networks. As deployment of next generation network access technologies gain momentum, many operators will endure a transition period where legacy services based in the time domain will need to coexist with pure IP oriented packet data services.

With this in mind, network backhaul planning and design have become much more strategic than in the recent past. So much so that three out of four mobile operators are choosing backhaul network solutions independent of other network infrastructure.

This brief video with Heavy Reading’s Patrick Donegan and Shailesh Shukla of Cisco, speaks to the trend and provides insight into the countless benefits of evaluating backhaul solutions based on their own merits. The conversation is particularly germane as network operators continue the move towards fixed-mobile convergence.

WireIE’s Carrier Grade Network Extension solutions use the latest in Ethernet Radio technology. The solution’s inherent support for IP traffic is augmented by an array of configurable options in support of legacy TDM requirements.

Mary Meeker Speaks of the “Ferocious Page of Change in Tech”

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Mary Meeker, often dubbed ‘Queen of the Internet’, presented a number of insights on trends in media, social networking, and mobile broadband usage at this week’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

From the rapid redefinition of how media is delivered and consumed, to the impact social networking is having on our society, Meeker provides a concise yet comprehensive view into our rapidly changing world. Mobile networks, and the implicit requirement for broadband access and backhaul, are essential ingredients in support of virtually all the trends Meeker discusses. In fact, mobile in of itself is characterized as “ramping up faster than any new, new thing”.

Backed up by an ample helping of salient market data, Meeker discusses:

  • Globality
  • Mobile
  • Social Ecosystems
  • Advertising
  • Commerce
  • Media
  • Company Leadership Evolution
  • Steve Jobs
  • Ferocious Pace of Change in Tech

Meeker’s presentation is provided here courtesy of O’Reilly Media.

Digital Television Yields to Broadband Wireless Access

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The digitization of US over-the-air television channels has afforded a twofold opportunity to expand broadband access in that country.

The most publicized was the reassigning of 108 MHz of spectrum at the ‘top’ of the former UHF analogue television band in what broadly became known as the 2008 700 MHz auction. The auction resulted in the coveted “B” (22 MHz) and “C” (12 MHz) blocks going to AT&T and Verizon respectively. The band will primarily be used for LTE as well as 3G overflow in the shorter term.

The other wireless broadband access opportunity resulting from the digitization of broadcast television is arguably more abstract. The FCC recently ruled in favour on the somewhat contentious concept of using the remaining 222 MHz of UHF, and 42 MHz of VHF digital television broadcast spectrum on shared basis with a broadband access technology commonly referred to as White Spaces.

Also touted as “Wi-Fi on steroids”, White Spaces will be an unlicensed radio access technology in which wireless broadband sessions occur on digital television guard band frequencies. Unassigned digital television channels can also be used by White Spaces technology yielding throughputs of up to 11 Mbps per device.

The philosophy behind how White Spaces manage RF spectrum is what the FCC refers to as “opportunistic” under a mechanism known as Spectrum Sensing Cognitive Radio (IEEE 802.22). The protocol also allows for database querying in addition to RF sensing – thus giving television broadcasters a second layer of protection from potential interference. This works by the location of the White Spaces device (based on its GPS coordinates) being reconciled with digital television transmitter/antenna values in the database. RF interference threshold parameters dictate whether the White Spaces device can use the channel.

This highly dynamic, in-the-moment approach to RF spectrum assignment is intriguing in that spectrum utilization is continually optimized based on many key parameters in the RF environment. In fact, this could be a bellwether for current generation radio access technologies where demand for spectrum is outstripping available bandwidth.

While the 2008 spectrum auction has given the successful bidders access to the favourable propagation of 700 MHz, White Spaces is permitted to operate across the entirety of both digital television bands (174-216 MHz VHF and 470-698 MHz UHF). In light of the propagation characteristics unique to each of these bands, and the comparatively ad hoc nature of the White Spaces approach to spectrum utilization, radio access can be exposed to a number of propagation anomalies that will temporarily enhance or degrade performance. Fortunately, the Spectrum Sensing Cognitive Radio protocol should mitigate the degradations and exploit the enhancements in signal propagation.

Network Extensions an Essential Piece of the Puzzle

As jurisdictions outside the US complete their transition to digital television, White Spaces will become broadly available as a new and innovative broadband wireless access technology. At that time, many regions will also be repurposing retired analogue television spectrum for 4G broadband wireless services. With these broadband access technologies based on IP, Ethernet Radio is an obvious choice for backhauling these dense access networks. WireIE is a leader in Network Extensions based on Ethernet Radio. We encourage you to visit here for more information.

The “Disruptive” Impact of TD-LTE

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There has been much discussion lately about spectrum limitations in light of the market’s ever-increasing appetite for mobile data services. As we look ahead to fourth generation technologies, we recognize that asymmetrical duplexing associated with TDD (Time Division Duplex) will yield some efficiencies over the inherent symmetry of FDD (Frequency Division Duplex). TDD has the additional advantage of being unpaired from an RF channel perspective — allowing for more spectrum allocation flexibility for fourth generation technologies.

LTE’s TDD specification known as TD-LTE is gaining momentum in light of these advantages. Inthis article, from Fierce Broadband Wireless, Monica Paulini gives us a superb snapshot of the current state of 4G technologies, and what the future likely holds in light of where we are today. She views TD-LTE as “disruptive”.

List of Technical Terms & Acronyms

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Hi readers,

Acronyms can be confusing. At WireIE, we constantly like to keep an up-to-date, ongoing list of all the terms that relate to our business and industry.

Click here to access the PDF. We will be updating it again in the coming weeks and will be sure to blog and tweet about it once again.

Please leave us a comment if we are missing any on the list or if you have any requests!

Broadband Wireless Takes on Legacy Broadband

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As experts in next generation networks, WireIE has been a strong promoter of WiMAX from the start.  As the impact of Clearwire’s WiMAX network roll-out takes hold, trends in customer behavior are beginning to emerge.

In this article by Marguerite Reardon, the question is asked, “Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband?”  WireIE believes the answer for many users is “yes”.

WireIE’s Backhaul Project

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WireIE is currently deploying a 20-site backhaul project that entails installing and testing Dragonwave microwave equipment.

The result of this project will be an all-IP HSPA network, which will pave the way to an LTE network in the future.

The project also utilizes WireIE’s best-in-class Project Management expertise for the defined installation process and methodologies. WireIE has created a streamlined installation of one site per day, in comparison to the 3-4 days previously required to complete a site install.

WireIE’s engineering team enhanced the quality of the installs they previously received from other subcontractors through staging and an implementation test plan.