The Role of Microwave in Rural Broadband

According to NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, broadband use has multiplied by more than twenty times since the early 2000s. However, three out of every ten Americans still do not enjoy its benefits. That represents a sizable market, and a good part of that market is in rural areas that lack the infrastructure for it. For service providers, the challenges lie in entering those markets quickly and effectively, and at lower ownership and operational costs than fiber or other solutions.

A technology that addresses these challenges is microwave. Stations are built and operational in a fraction of the time it takes to lay cable, with fewer logistical issues. Also, microwave gets service providers to market with broadband services in the near term, in contrast to some uncertain future time. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits:

Time to market. The race to reach the rural customer is on. Providers that move fastest will capture the bulk of customers and make it difficult for later entrants to lure them away. Unlike fiber, microwave offers rapid network design and implementation, and thus a competitive advantage.

Cost. Microwave provides ease of reach from fiber networks to rural areas, at lower capital and operating expense, ensuring the operator’s business model is positive. The cost is nowhere near that of fiber optic cables, which can be as much as $50,000 per mile, and much higher in tougher environments, such as trenching under highways.

Capacity. Microwave can bring high-capacity (multi-Gbps) services to rural communities. Many of these services will be more lucrative for service providers, offering an additional competitive edge and an improved business model.

Reliability. Microwave is known for its reliability when compared to fiber. This was evidenced in major hurricanes Sandy and Michael recently, where microwave survived and often served as a critical part of the recovery solution when underground fiber networks were flooded and aerial fiber networks were damaged by falling trees.

Lower latency. Microwave signals travel through the air about 50 percent faster than light through optical fiber. In addition, microwave networks have shorter and more flexible routes and can bypass mountains, lakes, rivers, and other rugged terrains. This reduces total network distance, which further improves latency.

To fully realize all these benefits, providers need a partner they can trust to deliver the best solution for a serving area quickly and effectively. Aviat Networks has the broadest offering of microwave radios in the market and the technical know-how to help you launch your network ahead of the competition. We’ve been around for 65 years, with a consistent reputation for delivering sound, business-enhancing networks anywhere in the world.

Find out more

For a custom analysis of your utility network capacity requirements and solution dimensioning, please contact Aviat today.

Subscribe to our newsletter