FirstNet Board Named for Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

First Responder Network Authority logo

The FirstNet board, an independent authority within NTIA that will hold the spectrum license for the national public safety broadband network, has been named. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is charged with taking “all actions necessary” to build, deploy and operate this network, in consultation with federal, state, tribal and local public safety entities and other key stakeholders. FirstNet oversees $7 billion in funding toward deployment of this network, as well as $135 million for a new State and Local Implementation Grant Program administered by NTIA to support state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions’ efforts to plan and work with FirstNet to ensure the network meets their wireless public safety communications needs.

This 12-person team is responsible for deciding how to specify the nationwide interoperable broadband network for public safety and how to spend this $7.2 billion set aside by the Obama Administration for that purpose. The board is made up of government officials, telecom industry professionals and most importantly public safety practitioners. The difficult decisions are now on the table for the FirstNet board, and we will be watching closely to see how they address the challenges. Ultimately, our public safety practitioners must have faith in the decisions and the network that will be implemented. Their needs are not always congruent with commercial wireless networks, so some changes to the commercial networks may be needed if they are to be used for public safety applications.

Aviat Networks believes that the best solution would be for FirstNet to empower states/municipalities to make the best decisions for their particular geographies and needs. What works in Alaska is not the same as the best solution for New York City, for example. Specific guidelines for interoperability requirements and use of available funding must be dictated by FirstNet. But specific needs knowledge, existing cross-state relationships and years of public safety experience all live with the states. We should challenge them to use those assets and to achieve the desired result. Key vendors like Harris and Motorola are well positioned to help the states move quickly and cost effectively to achieve interoperable broadband coverage.

At APCO this week, we saw examples of LTE network trials/demonstrations that clearly show us that LTE public safety network technology is ready to go. Data, video and even voice were moved across the entire U.S., allowing a police chief in Massachusetts to coordinate activities with his counterpart in Nevada. Real-time video of a simulated terrorist episode in Tampa could be viewed by federal entities in Washington, D.C. The ability to move and share information allows first responders to react quickly and with conviction to protect Americans.

So what should vendors to the public safety market do? They should be ready to move quickly with innovative solutions that align with the directions of FirstNet and bring high reliability and performance to the network while stripping out as much CAPEX/OPEX as possible.

Working together with our skilled public safety professionals, we can get this done!

Randy Jenkins
Director Business Development
Aviat Networks

Wireless Regulators Move to Prevent Spectrum Waste

Historically, in many countries the 26GHz and 28GHz wireless frequency bands have been allocated to point-to-multi-point systems, such as LMDS in the United States and LMCS in Canada. However, most of these systems have failed to reach their expected potential in terms of revenue generated and, as such, much of the allocated spectrum is now unused. This, along with the growth in demand for point-to-point microwave spectrum, has meant a number of national regulators have started to consider reallocation of this spectrum.

In Canada, the spectrum allocations for both the 26GHz and 28GHz bands have been revisited, owing to their underutilization by LMCS operators, with a new band plan having been developed during the drafting of SRSP 325.25. The diagrams below show the new allocations that accommodate more FDD spectrum suitable for microwave in point-to-point usage.

Figure 1 - 25.25 - 26.5 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage - Industry Canada

Figure 1 – 25.25 – 26.5 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage – Industry Canada

While the technical details of this draft SRSP have been finalized, consideration of licensing options by Industry Canada has so far delayed the formal publication of this SRSP. Note that the remaining point-to-multipoint operators are catered to in the TDD section in the middle of the 26GHz plan.

Figure 2 - 27.5-28.35 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage - Industry Canada

Figure 2 – 27.5-28.35 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage – Industry Canada

In the Republic of Ireland, ComReg (the Irish national telecommunications regulator) recently issued a consultation resulting from an operator request to change the use of its allocated spectrum from point-to-multipoint to point-to-point. Figure 3 shows the current situation in Ireland and Figure 4 shows the same band after the proposed change of use.

Figure 3 - Current 26GHz Band Plan - ComReg Ireland

Figure 3 – Current 26GHz Band Plan – ComReg Ireland

In the United States, the LMDS service occupies the following spectrum blocks:

  • 27.5 – 28.35 GHz
  • 29.1 – 29.25 GHz
  • 31.075 – 31.225 GHz
  • 31.0 – 31.075 GHz
  • 31.225 – 31.3 GHz

Thus, that would make a total of 1300MHz of spectrum—more than double the recent allocation at 7 and 13GHz—potentially available across the entire country. LMDS take up has been very low, and, as previously mentioned, much of this spectrum is now unused. This begs the question: Would spectrum reallocation in the U.S., as is happening in Canada and Ireland, promote its more active usage?

Figure 4 - Revised New 26GHz band plan - ComReg Ireland

Figure 4 – Revised New 26GHz band plan – ComReg Ireland

It is worth noting that existing users are protected in both the examples given above, but unused spectrum is now available to point-to-point operators. Therefore, it is now time to approach the FCC and request a similar exercise to be carried out for the United States. Aviat Networks intends to be one of the driving forces in requesting this reallocation of spectrum.

Ian Marshall
Regulatory Manager
Aviat Networks

Got Protection? Diversity Schemes and Other Methods

Diversity Schemes and Other Protection Methods for Microwave Radio

Dick Laine, longtime principal engineer for Aviat Networks, delivers one of his patented presentations on microwave networking during an installment of the video blog Radio Head Technology Series.

Microwave radios come and microwave radios go, but the sage advice of Aviat Networks Principal Engineer, Dick Laine, has no end-of-life. In our seventh installment of the very popular video blog Radio Head Technology Series Dick talks about the diversity of diversity schemes and other protection methods available to microwave networking engineers.

Using examples from the radio legacy of Aviat Networks (e.g., Constellation, MegaStar—you must remember these, it hasn’t been that long) and our current microwave networking solutions (e.g., Eclipse, TRuepoint 6500, WTM 6000) he expounds on the past, present and future of protection. From Angle Diversity (one of the earliest diversity schemes used in Line-of-Sight digital microwave) to Hybrid Diversity (HD) and Frequency Diversity (that need licensing waivers to be used in many applications) to comparisons of fiber-like protection methods, Dick covers it all. For example, did you know that a four-dish HD antenna arrangement offers little to no performance improvement over a three-dish HD configuration?

So with free registration to the video series you can have the benefit of all of Dick’s wisdom and nonpareil presentation style on Diversity. You get access to all the earlier videos, too. (Did we mention there are six previous episodes?) And the presentation slides. And the podcast. And all for FREE! Wow! If you don’t see a topic that you think needs to be covered, feel free to submit your suggestion into our inbox. Register today!

APCO 2012: Broadband for Public Safety in Sight

It is August and Minneapolis, Minn., is readying itself for the annual gathering for the APCO show. However, this year, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) show will be much different as the promise of broadband for public safety is now within sight! But before we start the sprint to the finish line, we still have some hurdles left to overcome:

  • FirstNet board decisions on network requirements and vendor choices for implementation      (that is once a board is in place)
  • States definition of needs requirements including cooperative agreements between states      and local municipalities

We will hear how systems integrators are developing business models that help limit the OPEX costs for the networks and bring the critical technical LTE skills to the party.

With very difficult financial limitations, innovation and teamwork will be required to make this network work. Look for vendors that bring new ideas to the game that help address these monetary challenges. How do we help limit CAPEX and OPEX while still offering the outstanding reliability/performance required of a mission critical network?

Aviat Networks knows backhaul will play a much larger role in the financial measures of the broadband network (perhaps as much as 30 percent of CAPEX)! Our solutions take advantage of existing deployed backhaul radios in public safety networks (more than 18,000 radios deployed in state/local networks today) and those of our competitors (estimated in excess of 30,000 radios). “Reuse—whenever possible” must be part of every conversation.

In addition, Aviat Networks’ ProVision monitoring/management platform and NOC Managed Services allow the state/local entity to much more cost effectively maintain their networks…to mission-critical standards. OPEX savings of more than 25 percent may be achieved by being able to predict problems before they occur and to be able to quickly diagnose and address them when they do occur. IP networks involve more complex failure mechanisms than TDM networks. Aviat Networks’ Advanced NOC Services capability offers the IP insight needed to fully understand loading, demand changes, networking issues quickly and avert bottlenecks before they occur.

If you would like to hear more on any of these topics, I invite you to come and see us at APCO.

Randy Jenkins
Director Business Development
Aviat Networks

FCC Rule Changes Lower the Cost of Microwave Deployments

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Last Friday, 03 August 2012 saw the release of FCC Report and Order 12-87, which contained some significant changes that will lower the total cost of ownership for many microwave links. The two most significant changes concern antenna sizes and wider bandwidths.

Following lobbying by Comsearch and the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC), within which Aviat Networks plays an important role, the FCC has allowed an additional alternative set of antenna parameters to be used in the 6, 18 and 23GHz bands. These new parameters are an alternative to the existing antenna parameters, which have been retained. It is worth noting that while the FCC does not specify actual antenna sizes, the realization of antennas based upon these new parameters does represent a reduction in size and thus provides for the reduced cost of both CAPEX and OPEX that has already been championed by Aviat Networks and other interested parties. The new working alternative antenna parameters are as follows:

  • 3 feet for the 6GHz band
  • 1 foot for the 18GHz band
  • 8 inches for the 23GHz band

To put these changes into perspective the typical cost of renting space for an antenna on a tower is US$400 + US$100 per foot (diameter) per month. So a link consisting of two 6ft antennas will cost 2x (400 + 6×100) = $2000 per month, i.e. $24,000 per annum.

If the antenna diameter could be reduced to 3 feet the cost is reduced to 2x (400 + 3×100) = $1400 per month, i.e. $16800 per annum—a saving of $7200 per year on a single link!

The above calculations are not only ours but also those of MetroPCS, which is quoted in the report and order. MetroPCS specifically notes, as an example, that “the cost of a microwave dish antenna is approximately $100 per foot per month. Thus, even if the revised rule allows for a reduction of just one foot, the annual savings would be $1,200, and the savings over a ten year period would be $12,000.”

Smaller antennas also open up more options in terms of locations for these antennas, and their smaller size reduces wind loading and the need for specialist mountings and strong towers.

Additionally, the FCC in a further notice of proposed rule making attached to this report and order seeks feedback on allowing similar alternative antenna parameters in the 11 and 13GHz bands. Aviat Networks intends to support this proposal via the FWCC.

Other Changes

With the ever-growing demand for bandwidth the FCC has decided to allow aggregation of two 30MHz channels in the 6GHz band and two 40MHz channels in the 11GHz band, giving maximum bandwidths of 60MHz and 80MHz, effectively allowing a doubling of the capacity of a microwave link. This represents another significant cost saving because this increased capacity can be achieved with the same amount of hardware.

Also in this report and order were changes to the definition of efficiency standards to a bits/sec/Hz standard as proposed by the FWCC, and a clarification of the definition of payload capacity: “The bit rate available for transmission of data over a radiocommunication system, excluding overhead data generated by the system.” The FCC has also introduced a welcome simplification of the rules with regard to bit rate efficiency. FCC Part 101.141 has been amended to include a table (below) that details the efficiency criteria according to two frequency ranges and three bandwidth ranges:FCC new bits/sec/Hz efficiency standard

Aviat Networks welcomes the FCC’s progressive changes as the amendments will stimulate the microwave industry and enhance the cost effectiveness of microwave networks across the United States. We expect the rule changes to be effective approximately in October.

Ian Marshall
Regulatory Manager
Aviat Networks

Innovative Microwave Radio Installation Helps Maintain Aboriginal Lands

MIMP mobile microwave radio infrastructure

Scale of MIMP’s mobile microwave radio infrastructure can be gauged by observing the installer at the very top of the 25-meter radio mast.

In the past, we have seen microwave radio installations at zoos, auto races, and on mountaintops reached by funicular and other one-of-a-kind implementations. This time, one of our partners, MIMP Connecting Solutions of South Australia, is in the process of completing an installation that is at the same time completely novel and tremendously important in the struggle to preserve indigenous cultures.

Currently, MIMP is rolling out microwave backhaul for the Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) liquefied natural gas joint venture in Queensland, Australia. However, in Queensland, and other parts of Australia, legislation in recent years such as the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 has sought to preserve culturally significant Aboriginal places from development. This impacts the installation of the APLNG microwave backhaul network because conventional radio sites cannot be constructed under the auspices of this legislation on protected Aboriginal land. Continue reading