Part 1 of our “Revolutionizing 5G Mission Critical Transport Networks” blog post series addressed microwave versus fiber as the better solution for mission critical 5G. We now continue our exploration focusing on mission critical use cases. Many critical applications, such as connected/autonomous cars, industrial Internet of Things (IoT), M2M, and public safety applications, require consistent reliability from their mobile networks. Under threat of multi-day outages from disasters and other types of network downtime and service outages, mobile networks must ensure the reliability and resiliency needed for 5G operation and its critical missions.
In terms of 5G requirements, capacity, latency, coverage, and other performance factors seem to be getting all the headlines—and of course, they are important. But 5G is just as much about the use cases pictured above—particularly the ones highlighted in yellow—which are critical for the public welfare and promise new revenue streams and financial success for operators.
Microwave Meets 5G Capacity and Cost Demands
Aviat microwave solutions are well up to the task of handling 5G traffic. We have maintained our leadership in high-performance, high-value backhaul/fronthaul networking with ongoing capacity upgrades and networking innovations to fully meet capacity and growth demands.
Over the last ten years, we have multiplied capacity in our networks by fifteen times. Multi-gigabit capacities are now possible at all link distances. Multi-Band links offer up to twenty times the capacity of traditional microwave, and there are more innovations on the horizon.
Also, microwave is the most economical transport solution available. It’s easier, faster to deploy than fiber, and cheaper than laying or leasing fiber. The latest generation of microwave comes in at one-tenth to one-hundredth of the cost per bit of traditional microwave.
At a recent national conference, Randy Jenkins, Aviat Director of Business Development for North America, spoke as part of a panel on microwave transport in the 5G environment:
“Operators can hurt themselves by investing in very expensive fiber solutions that might take years to implement—with overruns common in both cost and time. Microwave is ready to meet 5G demands today and get service providers into that market in a fraction of the time it takes fiber and at a far lower cost. The business model is highly favorable for operators who go with microwave early and benefit from new revenue streams in the near term.”
Multi-Band: A Key Enabler of Capacity and Reliability
Aviat’s breakthrough Multi-Band technology combines E band (80 GHz, for up to ten times greater capacity) with traditional microwave (18 GHz, to enhance link stability), using a single enclosure and single antenna at each end of the link. For future-minded operators, the rocket-boosted capacity of E band (up to ten times the capacity of traditional microwave) can be used immediately at turn-up or later, as needed.
This innovation offers greater immunity to challenging environmental issues. Your most important traffic now retains five-nines availability at speeds up to 2.5 Gbps, even under heavy rain or wind-driven pole sway. When conditions make 80 GHz throughput unstable, the highly reliable 18 GHz side of the unit takes over automatically—then returns when conditions improve.
Multi-Band also extends the reach of your E Band links up to 6, 8, or even 10 kilometers in some environments. Planning and installation are also easier, with only one unit to install at each end and simplified antenna alignment.
While fiber capacity and throughput are impressive, complete reliance on fiber networks to serve the 5G market will have the same problems fiber has had traditionally—slow planning, approvals, installation, and turn-up; a long time to revenue; cost overruns; and expensive network downtime due to backhoe cuts and other cable damage. Every operator out there has stories to tell.
As these innovations become a reality, the value of highly reliable microwave networks—including Multi-Band links—will become even higher. And Multi-Band microwave backup for fiber networks, particularly in networks with advanced apps or areas prone to unpredictable environmental conditions, could become the reliability solution of choice.