Fixing Microwave Software Licenses: From Agony to Ecstasy

Fixing Microwave Software Licenses: From Agony to Ecstasy

In the world of wireless backhaul, software licensing on microwave radio remains the same as always. Fundamentally, little has changed over the years. You need a separate license for almost every software component—capacity, feature and, in some cases, port licenses. Too many and more coming!

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Getting it Done! Aviat & Australia Public Safety Networks

Getting it Done! Aviat & Australia Public Safety Networks

The public safety market has relied for many years on Aviat Networks to be a supplier of mission-critical microwave backhaul equipment. For example, since the introduction of the Eclipse microwave radio a few years ago, it has been received very successfully in the Australia public safety market. In the last five years, Aviat has sold and deployed thousands of radios (i.e., TRs) in the public safety and life critical radio ecosystem.

“The cutting-edge Gigabit Ethernet and IP capabilities of Eclipse were critical for Australia government agencies,” says Raj Kumar, vice president, sales and services, Asia Pacific, Aviat Networks. “As radio sites rolled out across Australia, Eclipse has enabled efficient deployment of multiple radio carriers in a single chassis—a mission-critical advantage for the simulcast trunking sites.”

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Super Bowl of Wireless: Phones at Microwave

Super Bowl of Wireless: Phones at Microwave

Super-Bowl-2-of-Wireless-Phones-vs-Aviat-Microwave-Radios-February-5-2016Here at Aviat Networks we have the privilege of extremely close proximity to the site of Super Bowl 50, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. We are about a half mile away and from our building parking lot we can clearly see the venue where the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will clash for the championship of American professional football.

And while hundreds of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions more people around the world will watch the game raptly on television, 75,000-plus fans at the ballpark will see it in person. Not only will they watch it with their own eyes but also use their iPhones, iPads and Android smart devices to tweet, post YouTube and Vine videos or otherwise cheer or jeer the real-time action of the game on Facebook.

What many don’t know concerns the game within the game: how all this wireless data will get out of the stadium to the mobile service provider networks and finally onto the Internet and social media. As it turns out, Aviat Networks will also have an up-close virtual seat to this tilt of the cellular subscribers vs. their wireless carriers.

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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.

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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.

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Your Network Deserves Better than a Regular Router

Aviat-Networks-says-Regular-Routers-bad-for-Microwave-Networks-but-there-is-good-news-in-microwave-routers-January-29-2015

Regular routers are bad news for microwave networks. But there is also good news in the form of microwave routers. Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com / Foter / CC BY

Mobile network operators (MNOs) continue to reap the windfall of the widespread adoption of smartphones. Mobile data volumes spiked initially and still rise quarter over quarter. Along with the demand for more data throughput from their subscribers, MNOs have to accommodate the greater need for responsiveness closer to the network edge.

While regular routers are good at serving Layer 3 services to mobile users on fiber-heavy backhaul networks, they do not do a very efficient job of servicing mobile backhaul networks that primarily use microwave radio. As it turns out, the worldwide majority of mobile backhaul networks are still based on microwave technology, as regularly updated industry research shows.

What can an MNO with microwave backhaul do to bring Layer 3 functionality to its customers that will handle bandwidth constraints, unique aspects of translating router protocols across the microwave interface and failure detection and recovery, among others?

Aviat Networks has published an article in Mobile World magazine that looks at these challenges of regular routers when used in a microwave backhaul network and proposes possible solutions.

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Converged Microwave Traffic Emerges in Africa

Aviat-Networks-Technical-Marketing-Manager-Siphiwe-Nelwamondo-discusses-Microwave-and-IP-Convergence-with-Engineering-News-January-23-2015

Convergence: Photo credit: rkimpeljr / Foter / CC BY-SA

In South Africa, as in many emerging markets, wireless backhaul has long been a proverbial bottleneck to network growth. Due to cost and logistics, fiber optic technology remains out of reach as a practical solution for most aggregation scenarios, save for urban applications where population density and shorter routes can justify the exorbitance.

Now with the advent of higher speed, higher throughput mobile phones and tablet PCs, higher-order networking technologies are being pressed into service. Standard microwave radio, while cost efficient and effective for crossing far-flung forests, monumental mountains and desiccated deserts with traditional payload such as voice calls and moderate data rate applications, was not designed for the connectivity and capacity requirements of Layer 3 services. Thus, the bottleneck has grown still narrower. Even to the point where standard microwave radio might be hitting its upper threshold for serving mobile broadband.

Technical marketing manager, Siphiwe Nelwamondo, recently sat down with Engineering News, to discuss these issues and the present and future of microwave radio backhaul in South Africa and across the continent. In addition, he delved into how microwave networking is bridging the radio-IP gap for Layer 3 services by running IP/MPLS protocols on converged microwave routers.

As more and more mobile services get pushed out to the edge of the access network, the imperative for Layer 3 will only grow. Even as 3.5G and 4G mobile users who depend on full-IP increase in number, a majority of second- and third-generation subscribers will continue to rely on circuit-based technology. Not to worry, Nelwamondo covers how TDM telephony will be supported in a converged microwave and IP environment.

The full article goes on to discuss how mobile operators will strategize providing enterprise services from the cellular base station with microwave networking, virtual routers and more.

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We Put the Spotlight on Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)

As one of the most anticipated network technologies, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has been discussed by operators for years. The expectation was that deployments would start in 2013, but roll-outs in North America were delayed.

VoLTE Logo

Logo courtesy of YTD2525 Blog

Operators have faced a series of issues that include poor voice quality and long call establishment times. Once these problems are solved, it is expected that VoLTE will allow operators to provide  voice and data services using an integrated packet network. As the problems described show, the implementation of VoLTE presents challenges for the entire LTE ecosystem including microwave backhaul.

We have produced a white paper to describe some of the VoLTE requirements that must be met in order to overcome these technical challenges, which must encompass a flexible microwave backhaul as a key factor for a successful transition to all-packet voice and video VoLTE  networks. A brief introduction to VoLTE is presented and then different VoLTE backhaul requirements are described with possible solutions.

Click here to download a white paper on this subject titled “VoLTE and the IP/MPLS Cell Site Evolution”.

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Balloons & Drones for Internet Access? Seriously?!

Remote/Rural Communications don’t Need Loopy Ideas to get Online

There has been much talk in recent months and now some business transactions by leading technology companies to implement exotic schemes to get remote and/or rural communities onto the Internet. These schemes involve high altitude balloons and drones. Seriously? Give us a break! Of all the loopy ideas we’ve heard lately, these have to be some of the most far out.

Google using Titan drones to get rural communities on the Internet is just loopy. Photo credit: singlesoliloquy / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Google using Titan drones to get rural communities on the Internet is just loopy. Photo credit: singlesoliloquy / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Beyond generating a lot of publicity for “original” thinking, we really have to be skeptical about the efficacy of such ludicrous proposals. Besides the hard-to-calculate cost of these schemes, they are likely to be highly unreliable, as it’s notoriously difficult to keep either a balloon or a drone geostationary in the stratosphere with all its turbulent airflow. Not to mention the ever-present likelihood of mechanical failure, wing icing, leaks and other factors leading to crash landings. And what about fuel? Or batteries? Can solar power alone keep these contraptions airborne for up to three years? And then what?

Plain ol’ microwave radio
In these situations, all that’s needed is a traditional, reliable microwave radio link. Rather than spend gargantuan wads of their shareholders’ cold, hard cash on pie-in-the-sky Internet boondoggles, Facebook, Google and these other titans of Silicon Valley should come down to earth and look at quick and practical methods for extending Internet connectivity to the Unconnected.

For example, consider the position that Stuart Little, Aviat Networks’ director of solutions marketing, stakes out in April’s issue of “Land Mobile” magazine. He points out that microwave radio technology has been reliably and cost effectively spanning long distances—sometimes over inhospitable geography like deserts or jungles—for decades to connect outposts of humanity to the outside world.

Advantages of microwave radio
Microwave radio has the advantages of high bandwidth and speed to deployment going for it when servicing rural communities. Aviat long-haul microwave radios can accommodate up to 3.7Gbps bandwidth. And it’s very cost effective and can be deployed in a matter of weeks, in some cases.

The other regularly used long-distance backhaul option, fiber-optic technology, has high-capacity bandwidth, but neither cost effectiveness nor speed to deployment for rural communities. Outside of dense urban corridors where high-density populations defray the overall capital expenditure on a per capita basis, fiber is very cost prohibitive. And to trench fiber over an extended distance can take many months.

In testimony before the United States Federal Communications Commission in 2009, representatives of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), estimated that it could cost $70,000 per mile to deploy a fiber network solution to rural communities. And they are citing just a vanilla example of pulling fiber in a trench in dirt alongside a road. If you add in core electronics for the network you pile on millions of dollars more per site serviced to terminate the network.

For more extreme environments such as in Alaska, a more recent estimate places the cost of deploying fiber at $100,000 per mile. In contrast, for the most sparsely populated parts of Alaska, microwave radio could be deployed at a cost of less than $30,000 per mile. This estimate assumes a tower every 25 miles to host microwave equipment to relay the signal onto the next tower in the network.

By its own admission, the Alaska Broadband Task Force says that 25 miles between radio towers is a conservative assumption. In Aviat Networks’ experience, 40 miles between towers for long distance microwave backhaul can be more typical. And in the most extreme cases, Aviat has been able to implement microwave links of more than 100 miles. The point is that the longer the microwave link the less equipment that is involved, which drives down the cost per mile.

So Facebook and Google, save your billions. Thinking crazy can make you loads in social media and Internet search. But when it comes to building a way-out-there network, you’ll just be tossing your money out a window.

C’mon, Zuck! C’mon, Larry! If you need help with this, give us a call. Or like our Facebook page.

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Urban Backhaul with 70-80GHz E-band Radios

E-band-millimeterwave-backhaul-radios-in-the-70GHz-and-80GHz-spectrum-will-be-able-of-mounting-on-various-urban-infrastructure-Aviat-Networks-blog-17-January-2014

Urban infrastructure for E-band radio. Photo credit: christine592 / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

For years and years, microwave and millimeterwave radio technologies have coexisted without very much overlap in either their markets or applications. Microwave radio served telephone company needs (e.g., long distance backhaul, mobile access aggregation) for the bulk of its implementations with some vertical deployments for oil and gas, public safety and utilities organizations. Typically, licensed bands in service ranged from 6GHz to 42GHz—with 11GHz and under popular for long haul; 18-38GHz trendy for short urban hops. Generally, millimeterwave radio is considered to be between the 60GHz and 80GHz bands and found its applications confined to those for intra-campus communication from building to building for universities, civic centers, other government conglomerations and large, spread-out (i.e., 1 to 5 miles) corporate facilities.

More recently, E-band has seen its profile rise, as mobile operators have had to “densify” their networks to service the more tightly packed populations moving into larger and larger cities around the world. This is due to at least two factors: the shorter distances between wireless sites in urban locations and the lack of available spectrum in the traditional microwave bands. E-band radios are now starting to be deployed to aggregate traffic from macro cell base stations in the Gotham-esque landscapes of the 21st century and the new small cell transceivers that venture where no full-size mobile base station can tread.

So into this brave new world of urban backhaul, next-wave E-band radios have been thrust. But small form-factors and spectrum availability are not going to be enough to ensure the success of this new generation of millimeterwave equipment. Additional features will be necessary. They will need capabilities such as:

  • Integrated antennas to enable quick installation, minimize visual impact on city dwellers and overall promote “community friendly” backhaul
  • Light weight for lessened load factors on light poles, street signs and other non-traditional metro wireless infrastructure
  • Wide channels up to 250MHz in size
  • Scalable capacity starting at 350 Mbps to 1 Gbps with room to grow

It is an exciting time in the E-band space in early 2014. We will share more as the year progresses. Check back regularly to stay apprised of developments.

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