Posted by: Aviat Networks | September 21, 2015

Offshore: Microwave Radio use in Explosive Situations

BATS-Aviat stabilized microwave antenna system certified ATEX and IECEx Zone 1 for use in explosive environmentsIn oil and gas exploration, danger’s part of the business. In particular, offshore drilling is hazardous (e.g., water inundation, drill-hole blowouts). However, there are acceptable levels of risk, and the industry participants take those into account when they work in the field. But one item that should not be a hazard is the microwave radio installations rigs and other platforms use to communicate to shore.

As all know, microwave radios use a certain amount of electricity in order to operate. And microwave radios, waveguides and antennas emit energy when they transmit. However, onboard an offshore rig or other types of floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels flammable gasses are always present and have the possibility of becoming explosive in the presence of operating microwave radio equipment.

Until recently there were few solutions that could offer protection against the high chance of calamity associated with using microwave aboard an FPSO. Now there is a solution that has passed ATEX and IECEx Zone 1 certifications for mitigating the danger of explosive gasses: the BATS DVM ExP2 has passed both major safety body equipment requirements for operation in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Pressurized radome keeps flammable gas away from Eclipse radios
The BATS pressurized radome enclosed antenna aiming and tracking system (AATS) combined with one or two Aviat ODU 600s connected with a 0.9m or smaller antenna is the only microwave radio solution for potentially explosive atmospheric situations that is certified for use as per these two leading safety regimes. The system purges any potential flammable gas from the radome and once pressurized keeps any flammable gas out and away from the powered microwave radio.

Gas cannot get inside due to the positive pressure of the system. The only way gas could enter is if there is no longer positive pressure within the dome. In that case, everything in the dome is automatically shut off. The system is designed so that there is no possible way for gas to enter the system and any electronics to be active. All microwave and stabilization systems are plugged into a hardwire PDU/alarm system that automatically shuts power off at the source in the event of a loss of pressure.

Only antenna alignment system based on two technologies
Combined with its AATS capabilities to align microwave antennas onboard floating platforms to shore, a BATS-Aviat microwave radio antenna solution can stabilize the microwave signal on a vessel or platform as it moves—due either to sea motion or sway. This system uses two types of alignment technologies: GPS and Signal Quality Tracking Algorithms (SQTA).

With SQTA, the microwave radio beam is tested for the center of the beam, which is aimed directly at the center of the receiver. This algorithm runs continuously resulting in a dynamically aimed system through the BATS sync system, keeping the link on beam as much as possible as the ocean conditions change and move the floating platform. Systems that rely exclusively on GPS to accomplish microwave antenna alignment between ship and shore—and vessel to vessel—are very inexact, achieving lower quality links that may be off-center with only a portion of the signal strength and capacity of an on-beam signal.

In addition, in emergency shutdown (ESD) situations, it is unwise to have heavy reliance on GPS because if the floating platform is powered down, the GPS units will also lose power. A BATS-Aviat solution has its own internal power and using the signal tracking algorithm, it can maintain a last line of communication to shore or a companion rig when everything else onboard is shutdown.

For more information on the BATS-Aviat microwave radio antenna alignment solution, please download the datasheet.

Posted by: Aviat Networks | September 11, 2015

Case for IP/MPLS Routers at the Small Cell…but not Just any Router!

Aviat Networks says IP/MPLS-enabled small cell backhaul critical to indoor mobile usageWith the goal of a hyper-meshed 5G street level network, clearly today’s small cell deployments represent just an interim phase in a progressive network densification—pushing the network outward. This means today’s small cell sites will become tomorrow’s macrocells, or hub sites.

Future-looking mobile operators have planned for this eventuality. In the developed world, small cell and the Internet of Things (IoT) drive mobile network densification. However, in the developing world the primary goal of enterprise connectivity spurs network densification, due to lack of wireline infrastructure to business buildings. The end result of network densification is the same.

With up to 80 percent of mobile traffic originating and terminating indoors, and the coverage challenges presented inside buildings, Aviat Networks sees the first phase of small cell deployments focusing on improving indoor coverage, with early, limited outdoor small cell sites located primarily on rooftops, where siting, landlord approvals, planning permission and deployment aspects such as power, are well understood.

Operators plan these initial small cell deployments with the idea of subtending more street level and IoT equipment. In short, these small cells must architecturally look and behave very similar to today’s macrocell sites, without the size, cost, deployment complexity or indoor footprints afforded traditional cell sites. Deployment of cell site routers at macrocell sites is ubiquitous today to improve network scalability, provide aggregation and common transport over IP, lower costs and enable IP-based VPN services. Operators build small cell sites to accommodate these routing capabilities in preparation of future outward network expansion.

Sometimes you gotta go outdoors!
All this leads to a growing demand for compact all-outdoor routers.

We also know that approximately 50 percent of all macrocells globally are backhauled wirelessly, and we expect to grow that number when it comes to small cell. Small cell and enterprise solutions will need to support multiple backhaul transport technologies, a range of wireless options and frequency bands as well as fiber.

Outdoor routers for small cell and enterprise must be optimized for any transport media. While regular routers are designed for fiber backhaul, microwave routers not only work well with fiber backhaul but also are optimized to improve wireless network performance and lower costs.

To meet the goals of initial small cell and enterprise rollouts, prepare for future network densification and support fiber and wireless backhaul, Aviat has released an IP/MPLS capable microwave platform called CTR 8380. As an all-outdoor microwave router CTR 8380 converges microwave and IP/MPLS functions into a single compact device for all-outdoor deployments and is the only outdoor router on the market with integrated microwave capability. Because router and microwave functions are integrated into a single box there are fewer devices to buy, deploy and maintain, which is critical for all-outdoor deployments.

Its all-outdoor form factor eliminates need for shelters or cabinets, reducing air conditioning requirements and lowering power and fuel consumption.

Check out this new microwave networking solution as you prepare for your small cell and enterprise network rollouts!

Posted by: Aviat Networks | August 18, 2015

Top Five Criteria for Selecting Microwave Solutions (and Vendors)

Top Five Criteria for Selecting a Microwave Vendor

Photo credit: rustman / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The microwave radio business: a small community in a niche market where everybody tends to know each other. However, if your involvement in the microwave backhaul space goes back any length of time, no doubt you recognize the outside influence that industry analyst firms play within the industry. The analysts at Heavy Reading, Sky Light Research, Infonetics and a handful of others play a prominent role in shaping opinions about microwave radio solutions providers as well as the solutions themselves.

Reports from these analyst research firms remain very important even in a tight-knit place like microwave backhaul. They can make or break the business environment for microwave vendors for months—or years—at a time. For example, Infonetics issued its latest “Microwave Strategies and Vendor Leadership” survey results at the end of June. In this survey, 23 operators—from incumbent to competitive to pure mobile—laid bare their perceptions of not only the dedicated microwave specialist solution providers but also the telecom generalists who dabble in wireless backhaul infrastructure as an afterthought.

What emerged captivates the collective commercial consciousness.

Representing 33 percent of all capital telecom expenditures made worldwide in 2014, the 23 operators polled by Infonetics revealed just what microwave-oriented issues interest them ranked in order from most important to least significant. For 2015, the top five considerations in microwave equipment for the operators in descending order are:

  1. Product reliability
  2. Price-to-performance ratio
  3. Service and support
  4. Pricing
  5. Management solutions

Among all the microwave specialists, Aviat placed first in product reliability, service and support and management solutions. Aviat also placed first in four other categories.

These other categories that also made the list somewhat lower down in Infonetics’ survey have much importance for operators but had their presence muted due to survey methodology, perhaps. For example, solution breadth and technology innovation did not make the top five but without them the operators’ very strong desires for sophisticated and robust microwave solution features such as cross polarization (83 percent rated very important) and high system gain (78 percent rated very important) could not reach fulfillment.

Infonetics did not survey how operators perceive solution providers on specific product features, but objectively Aviat leads not just the microwave only providers but all microwave providers with its extra high power Eclipse IRU 600 EHP +39 dBm radio and across the board support for XPIC (i.e., cross-polarization interference cancellation) on a number of products.

Full disclosure: Aviat also rated número uno for solution breadth and technology innovation among all microwave specialists.

Overall, Aviat Networks was rated No. 1 by Infonetics’ operator survey respondents.

Posted by: Aviat Networks | June 27, 2015

Getting Schooled: 5 Reasons to use Class 4 Antennas

Class 4 antennas helped reduce interference due to congestion for 3 sites in South America

As mobile phone and other wireless networks “densify” in the parlance of the day, airwave congestion will inevitably rise causing greater interference. Generally, microwave path planners will use dish antennas that provide tighter radiation patterns with more focused main beams and smaller side lobes to overcome interference that results from congestion.

To indicate the tightness of their radiation patterns ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) classifies antennas from 1 to 4 with higher classifications having tighter radiation patterns. Until recently, to fight interference in most circumstances wireless transmission engineers would resort to Class 3 antennas for deployment scenarios where “very high interference potential” existed.

However, the situation has changed. More drastic implementation scenarios now drive path planners to invoke more dramatic solutions. That includes use of Class 4 antennas, which are for “extremely high interference potential” situations, according to ETSI. For a more detailed treatment of antenna classifications and radiation patterns, see the ETSI document “Fixed Radio Systems; Point to Point Antennas.”

It’s an urban thing
In most cases, microwave radio congestion that leads to interference problems occurs primarily in urban locations. With wireless backhaul sites in much closer proximity in urban areas than in rural or suburban locales, there it’s more likely that side lobes from microwave transmitters could become sources of secondary RF radiation, which can overlap with point-to-point links between neighboring sites.

For example, according to an Aviat Networks analysis of three wireless sites in South America that recently experienced interference issues, at one site the congestion was so intense as to make one complete channel unusable. Even if Class 3 antennas were used, the interference levels were too high to be able to reactivate the disabled microwave channel.

Wider channels, larger capacity
For situations where the operator needs to increase capacity from a wireless backhaul site, the easiest way remains widening the channel size. But at sites that experience extremely high interference, the operator may not be able to coordinate radio frequency pairs in wide channels with Class 3 antennas. However, moving up to Class 4 antennas would allow the operator to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio and let higher modulations come into play, so wide channels could be coordinated with correspondingly higher data rates.

Smaller is more
In cases of high interference, larger antennas can be used to reduce it. For a subset, smaller Class 4 antennas can be used instead of their oversize Class 3 counterparts. Thus, operators who deploy Class 4 antennas gain the added benefit of dropping down a parabolic dish antenna size as compared to a Class 3 antenna in the same application. In general, smaller dishes advantage the operator due to their lighter weight and lower opex tower charges, albeit with an initially bigger upfront capex. Because Class 4 antennas represent an elevated level of precision tooling and more detailed manufacturing versus lower class antennas, capex of these passive, higher-performance infrastructure pieces always weighs in the balance.

Other considerations
As we’ve seen, Class 4 microwave antennas have many general uses. They also are very good alternative solutions for specific industries. For example, utilities often find it difficult to implement Adaptive Coding and Modulation schemes in their backhauls, so Class 4 antennas can provide another way for them to achieve their connectivity and capacity goals.

Lower frequency bands (i.e., less than 11 GHz) have long had access to Class 4 antennas. More recently, antenna manufacturers such as Commscope have begun to make Class 4 antennas for higher frequency bands (e.g., 13, 15, 18, 23 GHz). And RFS has also expressed interest in supplying higher frequency class 4 antennas.

This overview has provided a broad grounding in Class 4 microwave antenna subject matter, but for more in-depth information please download the Aviat white paper “Use of Class 4 Antennas” for which no signup is necessary.

Posted by: Aviat Networks | June 26, 2015

3 Ways to Get Smart About Nodal Microwave

Choose Aviat Smart Microwave NodesAt a time in the not-so-distant past, there was only one way to implement microwave radio: one radio link per microwave terminal. Did not matter what type of link it concerned: protected, non-protected or multi-channel. From the advent of digital microwave radio in the 1980s and 1990s, terminals typically had no options for integration of co-located telecom devices. And to interconnect muxes or switches required external cabling and possibly a patch-panel.

Then in the early 2000s, so-called “nodal” radios came into vogue. Designed to address the drawbacks of the one-radio-one-link paradigm, a single microwave radio node could serve as a platform for multiple links. There were still limitations when it came to radio and switch interactions, but multiple sources of traffic could now be integrated and connected on the nodal platform.

For approximately the last 10 years, nodal microwave radios have been Carrier Ethernet (CE) capable with full integration between radio and Ethernet switch. In addition, Layer 3 IP/MPLS capability has become more prevalent, which, together with CE, enables nodal microwave platforms to assume switching functionality.

Terminal redux
Since 2011, a movement’s been afoot and gaining momentum to bring back the one-link-per-radio terminal model. That’s not the overt objective of industry participants but the collateral effect of unintended consequences. The real goal of various microwave practitioners has been to bring forth a new low-cost concept of all-outdoor radios (ODRs). Designed as all-Ethernet/IP radios, these newest ODRs were supposed to be an easy-to-install, price-conscious alternative to traditional split-mount radio setups. These high-capacity outdoor units should have supplanted split-mounts and swept away all memory of more than 20 years of microwave market dominance.

However, the mobile backhaul market still has an abundance of TDM-only dependent 2G and 3G base stations in the installed base. And all-IP ODRs cannot support circuit-based traffic without separate adapters that must be mounted indoors. Other issues regarding power management, reliability, maintenance, aggregation and complex configurations also dog ODRs.

Layer 3 IP/MPLS enters the backhaul
As mobile phone networks have gone up the speed and capacity curves, with LTE and LTE Advanced pushing the 4G envelope, the old ways of wireless architecture don’t completely suffice anymore. With this demand for more speed and capacity from the mobile network, the mobile backhaul needs to supply a more robust solution to support 4G wireless. For business purposes, Layer 3 IP/MPLS proves to be the best answer for aggregation and edge sites.

By having IP/MPLS at the cell site, the delivery of new services accelerates. But introducing discrete IP routers into the cell site has its own considerations to take into account.

Of course, the easiest and most convenient approach to implementing IP/MPLS at the cell site is to just deploy a standalone cell site router (CSR) alongside the existing split-mount microwave radio. Though intuitively appealing, this approach has several drawbacks such as:

  • Added cost/space requirements
  • Demarcation issues
  • Management complexity
  • Lack of design with microwave in mind

Even in the new ODR model, implementing IP/MPLS at the cell site faces challenges. While designed specifically to be “plugged” into an IP router, ODR Ethernet radios have the same limitations of traditional split-mount radios in these networking configurations. In addition, ODRs must contend with:

  • Microwave configuration complexity
  • Poor performance (i.e., no media awareness)
  • Lower reliability
  • Complex power management

Smart microwave nodes
So with the traditional split-mount radio and new-fangled all-outdoor radio implementation scenarios for instituting IP/MPLS functionality both being less than ideal, what is the smart thing to do? Aviat Networks has come up with a concept called “smart microwave nodes” wherein the uniquely integrated family of CTR 8000 microwave routers is capable of pairing with split-mount, all-outdoor, all-indoor, microwave, millimeter wave, IF or Ethernet radios within a single IP address.

Managed by the ProVision network management system, an Aviat smart microwave node can function as one element in the network while supplying optimal performance for microwave and IP. To find out more, download the “Why Choose Smart Microwave?” white paper—no signup necessary.

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 326 other followers

%d bloggers like this: