How Microwave Networking Enables Nationwide 4G
  • October 27, 2015

How Microwave Networking Enables Nationwide 4G

LTE mobile connectivity now exists in many more urban places than not. Virtually all big cities have multiple choices for LTE and most have at least one choice for LTE Advanced—the real 4G wireless. For example, you can see iPhone and Android users taking advantage of all this high-capacity coverage as they leisurely view high-definition YouTube videos without buffering and actually livestream major league sports in cafes, parks and just walking around at lunch.

Aviat Networks wins best Microwave Backhaul Provider award in Ghana
  • June 22, 2015

Aviat Networks wins best Microwave Backhaul Provider award in Ghana

At the Ghana Telecom Awards in May 2015. Ahmed Adama, Aviat Ghana country manager (right) proudly accepts on behalf of all Aviat Networks the honor for Best Microwave Backhaul Vendor of 2015.

At the Ghana Telecom Awards in May 2015, Ahmed Adama, Aviat Ghana country manager (right) proudly accepts on behalf of all Aviat Networks the honor for Best Microwave Backhaul Vendor of 2015.

At the recently concluded Ghana Telecom Awards held in May 2015, Aviat Networks won the Microwave Backhaul Vendor award for the second year in a row. Based on a survey of telecom industry participants, Aviat bested all the other major microwave specialists and one of the top three telecom generalists.

“I am very proud to inform you that Aviat Networks has been honored again as the best overall microwave backhaul solutions provider in Ghana,” said Ahmed Adama, country manager, Ghana, Aviat Networks. “The combination of our microwave networking technology and full turnkey service capability was key to securing this award.”

  • February 13, 2015

WLAN Provider uses Microwave Networking for Backbone

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Austria WLAN provider NETcompany aggregates wireless traffic from hotspots at places like cafés. It then sends traffic to its CTR 8540-based backbone, which terminates at headquarters. Photo credit: Kieran Lynam / Foter / CC BY

In Austria, people love their coffee, and they love their Internet. WLAN provider NETcompany makes sure they get both, with high-speed wireless access via hotspots at cafés and other popular places with the help of microwave networking.

Serving a core business clientele of home and business customers, NETcompany offers wireless Internet connections in fixed applications. In addition, the company builds and provides wireless Internet access points, also known as wifi hotspots, to cafés, hotels and other mostly tourism-related establishments
—even campsites.

Around two years ago, Aviat Networks began working with the wireless Internet service provider to connect its point-to-multipoint base stations, which aggregate the business and residential wireless traffic, to its main communications infrastructure via a backbone based on Eclipse microwave radios. In addition, hotspot traffic is also transported over the backbone network.

Apparently, business has been increasing over the course of time. Thus, more advanced networking services and higher capacity are required to keep up with wireless Internet demand from the customers of NETcompany’s customers.

Therefore, NETcompany became interested in the Layer 2 capabilities of the CTR 8540 and its more robust Carrier Ethernet features. In addition, the higher QAM modulations supported by the CTR 8540 enable higher airlink capacities for aggregating traffic than are available in traditional microwave radio. Now the WLAN provider’s backbone is supported by a series of CTR 8540 microwave routers that deliver high-capacity backhaul capability.

This early CTR 8540 customer is already deploying high-capacity links in 2+0 configurations. Aviat continues to work with NETcompany and other customers with vertical applications. Read about other early CTR 8540 scenarios and let us know about your microwave networking application.

  • February 6, 2015

IP/MPLS: Coming to a Village near you

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I Heart MPLS. Photo credit: swirlspice / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Whether the local police department responding to a burglary call or firefighters putting out a blaze in the historic district, first responders across America rely on mission-critical communications infrastructure to provide timely, reliable and secure voice, video and data services to do the job.

In our data-infused, mobile and Internet-connected world, public safety agencies have come to realize that upgrading infrastructure to IP/MPLS technology is the best way to lower costs and provide rich services in a scalable way, while enabling effective communication with peer local, state and federal organizations. Access to high volumes of data and the ability to share it with key stakeholders allows public safety professionals to make rapid decisions and speed up actions.

IP/MPLS and Microwave: Better Together
At Aviat Networks, we have blazed a path to IP in privately operated networks with our hybrid IP/TDM microwave radios, which efficiently converge packet-based traffic with legacy TDM. This solution gives public safety network operators a concurrence of technology while migration decisions and investments are made.

Recently, Aviat introduced the term “microwave routing” with the launch of its CTR platform. At its core, microwave routing is about integrating IP/MPLS capability into the microwave layer to increase transport intelligence while decreasing cost and complexity. As part of its portfolio, Aviat features the highly resilient CTR 8611 microwave router, which has been designed to meet the needs of public safety agencies today and tomorrow—addressing a future that is sure to include LTE/LTE-Advanced technology and a vast new buildout of advanced networking infrastructure ushered in by the FirstNet initiative.

IP/MPLS in Action
One example of IP/MPLS in public safety networks can be found in the Northeastern United States, where a major statewide public safety agency recently adopted IP/MPLS functionality in its backhaul. This deployment is based on the CTR 8611 and ProVision network management system (NMS). ProVision, with its new INM package, provides a smarter end-to-end, point-and-click IP/MPLS service management solution.

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I Heart MPLS (the coffee mug). Photo credit: emma trithart / Foter / CC BY-ND

Armed with these tools, this public safety agency turned up a complete IP/MPLS solution for its mission-critical networks, which includes microwave radios, microwave routers and network management. Aviat supports the agency with turnkey services to simplify the network design, install and commission equipment and provide post-deployment support.

IP/MPLS for Everyone
Since 1999, IP/MPLS has been deployed in the mainstream of networking. Until now, its implementation has largely been the domain of wireline telephone companies and more recently mobile operators. However, we now see private network operators adopt IP/MPLS technology because of its superiority and economic benefits. Although IP/MPLS is not something that is perceptible by the ordinary citizen, its positive impact on our daily lives is significant. We Heart IP/MPLS!

Louis Scialabba
North America Marketing
Aviat Networks

  • January 29, 2015

Your Network Deserves Better than a Regular Router

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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.

  • January 26, 2015

Converged Microwave Traffic Emerges in Africa

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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.

  • November 5, 2014

The Shellshock IT Vulnerability in Relation to Microwave Radio

Since the beginning of October 2014, there has been a lot of coverage in the technology press concerning the so-called “Shellshock” or “Bash Bug” computer vulnerability. All the coverage has been exclusively related to general IT and computer systems. But how does this vulnerability concern microwave radio systems? Take our poll and let us know what you know.

 

Aviat Networks recently completed an exhaustive internal review of all our current and legacy products and found no inherent weaknesses in any of the systems toward Shellshock. We have recently informed our customers of this end result (see statement).

  • September 30, 2014

Mt. Otto: 11,000-foot Microwave Site Install in Papua New Guinea

Aviat Networks and its partners Kordia and Eltek installed an entirely off-the-grid microwave repeater and spur atop 11,000-foot Mt. Otto in Papua New Guinea.

Aviat Networks installed an entirely off-the-grid microwave repeater and spur atop 11,000-foot Mt. Otto in Papua New Guinea. Image credit: Shutterstock

In all its years, Aviat Networks has installed a great many microwave radios and in some very interesting places. On the sides of the largest dams. On top of the most famous bridges. Deep in the Aboriginal Outback. Way out to sea. In the frozen wastes of the Great White North.

Our latest triumph of man and mechanism over elements comes by way of Papua New Guinea, one of the last lands to be touched by the progress of high technology.

Deep in the heart of this primordial island nation, an imposing mountain stands: Mt. Otto, nearly 11,000 feet (3500m) of steep slopes and very little summit. Few people climb it. There are virtually no roads of which to speak. The only practical way to bring wireless telecom gear up is via helicopter.

However, Aviat Networks was equal to the challenge. Aviat’s services department is loaded with can-do problem-solvers keen to tackle projects like this. In this case, a critical issue for the Mt. Otto site revolved around power. Issue resolved with a big Eltek generator, part of an amazing energy solution that powers an Aviat WTM 6000 14+2 repeater with a 7+1 spur—all built to run at Mt. Otto’s high altitude without supervision for extended periods. If we look a bit closer at the site specs, we will see:

  • 2 x WTM 6000 15+0 Ethernet with 1+1 SDH (design capacity of 3Gbps; normal operation close to 4Gbps)
  • 1 x WTM 6000 6+0 Ethernet with 1+1 SDH (design capacity of 1.5Gbps normal operation; close to 2Gbps)
  • 12 foot antennas in a Space Diversity configuration across a 91km path
  • 8- and 10-foot antennas to other spur sites

Heady stuff.

To keep the site online, an array of 96 solar panels powers the microwave radios with 24 kW of electricity. As backup, the 80KVA Eltek generator provides up of five days of continuous current in case of extended cloudy weather. It is capable of this as it runs on fuel that’s kept warm in a modular container. Otherwise the fuel would freeze solid in the thin mountain air. A large battery installation provides an extra five days of backup power. Those same solar panels top off the charge on these 57,000 pounds (25,704 kg) of batteries. It’s a closed system completely designed for 100 percent off-the-grid operation.

To complete the site, required dozens of sorties airlifting personnel and all the material necessary to build and install the site. Overall, the Mt. Otto site is an amazing accomplishment in a super remote and hard-to-get-to place.

  • December 6, 2013

The Rise of Tower Sharing in Africa

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Cell tower, Ghana. Photo credit: aripeskoe2 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

A growing telecommunications trend in South Africa and other emerging markets across the African continent is the move to cell tower sharing. There are many reasons for this, but the need to reduce capital expenditure (capex) on towers and other infrastructure and retarget spending toward network development, customer acquisition and retention and need to accommodate growing mobile data traffic levels have forced the issue.

The trend toward independent ownership of telecommunications infrastructure such as tower sites, with leasing arrangements for multiple operators on each tower, closely mirrors moves in mature telecommunications markets around the globe, including the U.S. and Europe, as well as other big emerging markets such as India and the Middle East.

Tower sharing prevalent
While there is some reluctance by industry incumbents to offload tower infrastructure because they fear losing market share and network coverage, the tower-sharing model is still becoming more prevalent. This is particularly evident in markets where there are new players trying to penetrate the market, as well as in countries where coverage in rural, sparsely populated areas is needed to drive growth. Other important factors, such as the rising cost of power in South Africa, or unreliable power delivery in other parts of the continent have also helped to drive this trend.

Thus, the adoption of this model has gained significant momentum in Africa since 2008, with major mobile operators in Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda striking deals to offload existing infrastructure to independent companies. These independent “tower operators” handle the operation and management of these towers, leasing space back on the towers to multiple network operators. This helps to reduce operating costs, improve efficiency and potentially boost an operator’s network coverage significantly and rapidly.

Smaller equipment requirements
To accommodate multiple network operators on a tower and cell site, smaller antennas are preferred, with additional requirements for smaller indoor equipment that draw less power. This configuration helps to decrease power consumption and cooling requirements resulting in more efficient use of diesel generators during times of power failure. However, having smaller antennas affects transmission power, capacity and efficiency. As such, mobile operators are turning to on-site solutions that offer all these benefits, but do not compromise on quality of service, capacity or data transmission speeds.

This also extends to the backhaul network, which often poses the most significant challenge for mobile network operators, especially as mobile networks continue to evolve from 2G and 3G to LTE. For example, as mobile networks continue to evolve, backhaul network architectures will need to change from simple point-to-point to more complex ring-based architectures. Operators that choose to share infrastructure will need on-site equipment that is capable of accommodating these changes, while still offering optimal transmit speeds and reduced operational costs.

Traditionally, most network operators also used optical fiber for their high-capacity fixed line core/trunking networks. However, as tower sharing becomes more prominent fewer operators are willing to spend the capital required to enable fixed-line backhaul from shared sites due to the associated costs. Therefore, more operators are turning to wireless backhaul as a suitable solution to transport data between the cell site and the core transport telephone network.

More capacity needed
As users demand more capacity on the access portion of the network, the core/trunking network also needs to sufficient capacity to be able to transport the aggregated traffic from all these sites. Many operators have turned to high-capacity trunking microwave systems to provide the required high capacity. These high-capacity trunking microwave systems have traditionally been installed indoors, usually in a standalone rack. They were also installed in a way that radio signal strength diminished significantly before reaching the antenna at the top of the tower, ,necessitating a bigger antenna to compensate. These all-indoor configurations also required big shelters and costly air conditioning.

Developing new technologies
In an effort to improve the efficiencies of mobile backhaul to meet modern demands, tower operators and their solution providers are reconfiguring these shared sites, and new technologies are being developed to solve these challenges.

For example, split-mount trunking solutions allow for up to four radio channels on a single microwave antenna, and lower costs associated with deploying and operating ultra-high capacity microwave links for increased capacity. Smaller and lighter antenna solutions can also be lifted and installed higher on towers more easily, which helps to decrease tower space and loading requirements, making these solutions less prone to wind damage. Moving radios from the shelter to the tower, next to the antenna, further reduces deployment and operational costs and simplifies antenna connections (e.g. eliminates inefficient, long waveguides; costly unreliable pressurization/dehydration systems). In these cases, smaller shelters or cabinets can be used, which decrease air-conditioning requirements even further.

However, regardless of how tower operators are able to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, the trend of this form of infrastructure sharing is set to continue, which will help to drive increased competitiveness in mobile markets across Africa. This will have a positive impact on the prices end-users pay for mobile data and voice services, and will help to accelerate the availability of connectivity across the continent.

Siphiwe Nelwamondo
Technical Marketing Manager, South Africa
Aviat Networks

Beyond Mobile and Public Safety, Microwave Finds its Niche
  • November 27, 2013

Beyond Mobile and Public Safety, Microwave Finds its Niche

As we have seen recently, microwave radio continues to find new and niche applications beyond the archetypical mobile operator and public safety markets. Long time Aviat partner/customer Vertel has been working on microwave broadband in the Australian healthcare sector for many years. And with the recent emphasis placed on servicing the healthcare sector by the rollout of the National Broadband Network across Australia—as NBN lumbers along toward a 2019 completion date—Vertel has been able to re-energize this niche application in microwave radio for its support of telemedicine and telehealth, as outlined recently in Pulse + IT Magazine.

  • November 1, 2013

Microwave Radios Extend Wide Area Network for Healthcare Provider

Aged-care-provider-Life-Care-decided-not-to-wait-7-years-for-Australias-NBN-National-Broadband-Network-to-reach-the-Adelaide-suburbs-it-commissioned-an-Aviat-microwave-radio-WAN-instead-Nov-1-2013

Aged care provider Life Care decided not to wait seven years for Australia’s National Broadband Network to reach the Adelaide suburbs. Instead, it commissioned an Aviat microwave radio high-capacity WAN. Photo credit: Douglas Barber [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Microwave radio is many things: It is an enabling technology in support of the mobile phone revolution and all its dependent social networks. It is a dedicated system that provides the skeleton and musculature (i.e. infrastructure) that allows police, firefighters and other first responders to react in a coordinated fashion to both routine and emergency public safety incidents. But it also serves in lower profile but nonetheless very important niche applications around the world. Take for example the experience of a regional healthcare provider in South Australia.

In a recent article in the national newspaper The Australian, the networking story of Life Care, the umbrella organization for a series of five aged care facilities and 12 retirement “villages” in and around Adelaide, Australia, was detailed. With the rollout of the National Broadband Network slowly progressing across Australia and not anticipated to reach the Adelaide suburbs for seven years, Life Care decided it could not wait so long to connect its locations via high-capacity telecoms. It chose to bid out a project for its own private Wide Area Network (WAN). Aviat Networks partner MIMP Connecting Solutions won the contract as the incumbent vendor. The clincher on the deal: the capability of Aviat radios to connect the farthest outlying facility, at some 50 kilometers, in Aldinga with high-bandwidth wireless. Furthermore, MIMP could offer a licensed spectrum solution, free from interference, whereas the competitors could not. And with a breakeven ROI of just two years, an Aviat-powered microwave WAN was a no-brainer—the others were four-years-plus to payback.

  • October 18, 2013

Lessons Learned: Transitioning from TDM to IP

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Cell phone tower near Lozen, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Plamen Agov • studiolemontree.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The transition from the Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) cell phone networks of the 2G and 3G mobile era has been a long time coming. However, the mobile industry seems to be at one of its proverbial inflection points where IP (Internet Protocol) technology is ascendant and TDM has begun the long but inevitable decline into legacy status.

Aviat Networks has been there all along the way, helping operators design and deploy aggregation systems. We’ve seen and learned a lot as some of the leading mobile phone carriers have upgraded their networks. Now as LTE works its way into mainstream status, cell phone networks are transitioning to full-IP, the underlying technology of LTE.

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