May 20, 2016

Quantifying the Benefits of Extra High Power Radios


Figure 1: 8-foot antenna (left) clearly much bulkier than a 3-foot antenna (right in carton). Basketball included to indicate relative scale.

You may have noticed we’ve been talking a lot lately about our new 39dBm EHP radio (the most powerful digital microwave radio ever built by the way). We’ve been getting a phenomenal response to this product mostly because of the real business benefits it delivers…benefits largely related to the antenna.

As a rule of thumb in microwave backhaul, the more powerful the radio (i.e., system gain) the smaller the antenna has to be (i.e., overall diameter). More than any other factor, smaller antennas drastically lower the total cost of ownership for microwave.

For example an extremely large 8-foot microwave antenna requires special crating and heavy-duty lifting machinery because of its bulk and unwieldy properties. In contrast, a 3-foot antenna can be installed by one or two staff working with the dish by hand. You can get a real appreciation of the differences between the two sizes of antennas in the photo in this blog—click the picture to zoom in. Notice the dish scales in relation to a Golden State Warriors NBA Champions, Stephen Curry-autographed basketball—go Dubs!

At more than 1000 lbs dead weight, an 8-foot microwave antenna outweighs its 68-lb, 3-foot counterpart by a difference of more than 1300 percent! Whereas a 3-foot antenna could be transported to a site using a regular pickup, an 8-foot antenna would necessitate a super-duty truck. And depending on the existing infrastructure, the roadway could need an upgrade before moving the laden transport to the site—dare we even say helicopter. Overall, a larger antenna equates to a 38 percent higher installation cost.


Figure 2: Table of significant statistical differences between 8-foot and 3-foot antennas. Click to read. Cost information blacked out due to competitive reasons. Sign up for the free white paper to access all information unredacted.

In addition, shipping costs for 8-foot antennas are much higher than for 3-foot antennas, especially when you consider them on a per-link basis (i.e., two radios). For example, if you were a leading mobile provider in Chicago or another close-by Midwestern city and Aviat Networks had to ship antennas to you from our San Antonio factory acceptance testing (FAT) center—the only FAT capability offered by any microwave specialist—it would cost you 70 percent more to receive an 8-foot antenna than a 3-foot antenna.

Oh, and did we forget to mention that the original list price on an 8-foot antenna is 77 percent higher than that for a 3-foot antenna?

These are just the minor expenses. If you own your tower, structural enhancements to support weight and wind loading of large dishes can be astronomical. If you lease the tower, leasing fees are proportional to antenna diameter and are very expensive ($100/month/foot of diameter).

All these are just some of the basic antenna contrasts that are easily discernible when you decide to use an extra high power microwave radio instead of a standard power radio. While all these advantages are plain to see, many others exist. For a full breakdown of cost savings of using small antennas with extra high power radios click here to sign up for our new white paper on the topic.

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