Four Recommendations for FirstNet Backhaul


Opt-in or opt-out of the FirstNet plan is the biggest decision states will make about public safety in the coming years. Costs are critical, but states must ensure a sound architecture for mission critical communications. Whatever the opt-in/out decision, the advantages of microwave will play a huge part in the FirstNet network, and states will do well to follow these four recommendations:

1. Microwave compliments fiber for mission critical, LTE-proven transport

Only microwave and fiber can meet the capacity needs of public safety LTE. Use these parameters to make the best selection of the right transport technology for a given application.

  • Capacity. Microwave scales to 2 Gbps or more, meeting the capacity needs of LTE for mobile operators.
  • Cost. Microwave offers low initial and ongoing cost and is generally the most inexpensive transport technology.
  • Reliability/Survivability. Microwave networks are extremely reliable… there were no reported microwave related outages in recent storms like Hurricane Sandy.
  • Speed to Market. Microwave is fast and easy to deploy enabling rapid service turn-up.

2. Invest in the right microwave radios upfront

The backhaul network should be protected, diverse, impervious to drastic weather conditions, and cost-effective to operate. Your configuration should balance cost and reliability. The three major options are:

  • All indoor. Electronics indoor, waveguide to the antenna.
  • Split mount. RF-electronics on the tower, IF/baseband indoor, shielded cable between.
  • All outdoor. Electronics on the tower, cable or fiber running down.

Consult our recent paper for more information about choosing the right radio for public safety LTE

3. Enable security on your microwave network

FirstNet places strict security requirements on network elements. Any radios deployed under this program must enable the following capabilities.

  • Secure management. Protects against unintentional misconfiguration or spoofing.
  • Payload encryption. Protects wireless communications from eavesdroppers. Sniffers see garbled transmissions.
  • Integrated RADIUS capability. Supports remote authentication, authorization, and accounting.

4. Look to local, Made in USA experts

Designing and implementing a public safety communications network is challenging—add the complications of broadband LTE and it becomes even worse. When outages are measured in lives lost, it’s critical to select a provider with demonstrated excellence. Have the provider’s solutions stood strong under extreme conditions? Does the provider have a record of designing long-haul networks with attention to the unique conditions at each link? Aviat radios are designed, built, and supported within the USA.

Download full white paper here

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