Alpha Omega Wireless Blog

Choosing the Right Outdoor Wireless Vendor

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 @ 05:11 PM

Choosing the right outdoor wireless vendor is critical for the success of a wireless backhaul project, whether it’s a licensed microwave link, unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridge, wireless mesh, WiMax, point to point wireless backhaul, or point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges. Not all wireless vendors or wireless installation companies are the same. Too many companies and people claim to be RF Engineers or outdoor wireless backhaul experts without ever having any real world project experience.

Wireless Integrator

Some wireless vendors are just “box movers” with a sole purpose to sell hardware. These companies typically do not have any field experience with wireless installations, wireless site surveys, or spectrum analysis. They may be able to do wireless path calculations using some software programs, but the information they use for the outdoor wireless network design is based on information they receive from the client. Because they lack any real world filed experience they tend to miss the fine intricacies that can make or break an outdoor wireless backhaul project. They also typically try and push to the customer whatever product makes them the best margins.

Some “so called” wireless vendors come with the IT networking background. They too lack any real world outdoor RF or microwave experience. They may focus on a conceptual wireless network design but have no understanding on the details of what it takes to actually install and maintain an outdoor radio system. Everything looks great on paper but when it comes time to install the system and make it work everything goes south when there is a huge groove of trees or buildings in the way! These companies might be good at the network integration portion of a project but have no clue to the way outdoor wireless systems perform in the field or what it takes to properly do a wireless installation.

There are some great outdoor wireless vendors that have a ton of outdoor radio system experience but lack any knowledge of integrating the wireless infrastructure to the client’s network.

Wireless antenna installationA true outdoor wireless integrator will have in house experience with all aspects of an outdoor wireless backhaul system. A good wireless integrator will know how to properly design a wireless backhaul network, perform accurate wireless path calculations, and understand exactly what it takes to deploy a wireless backhaul network.

The good companies have experience with point to point unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges, licensed microwave links, wireless mesh, point to multipoint wireless bridges, etc. These companies know the industry and can make appropriate recommendations on whether unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges or licensed microwave links are right for the backhaul solutions or which is the right fit between wireless mesh and point to multipoint wireless bridges. Good wireless vendors also understand IP networking and can integrate the outdoor wireless system into the client’s network.

The good outdoor wireless integrators have experience working with towers, poles, and on roof tops. They know exactly what the mounting and power solutions need to be and what goes into the proper wireless installation of the radio equipment. True wireless integrators can properly plan, price, and insure success of an outdoor wireless backhaul project.

What about after the project? Many “so called” wireless vendors come across knowledgeable about designing a radio communication system or claim that have a lot of wireless installation experience. The question to ask is if something goes wrong or there is an issue down the road, will the wireless vendor be there for support. Did the wireless vendor rely on subcontractors for the project? Will they need to coordinate with subcontractors to support the client’s system? What will they charge to perform support if they do need to rely on a sub? These are important questions. The “so called” wireless vendors can’t control if their subs will be around in the future or what they may charge. What about the amount of time it would take to get different companies involved and dispatched?

A good wireless integrator performs all the work themselves and does not rely on subcontractors. They can take full ownership of the outdoor wireless system and can support it.

Wireless backhaul, whether you are talking about wireless mesh, WiMax, point to multipoint wireless, or point to point wireless backhaul, systems can function with extreme reliability and predictability with proper wireless network design, wireless engineering, and a quality wireless installation. The mobile wireless carriers take this matter critically and waste no expenses on ensuring their systems are installed properly. Any down time can cost them tens of thousands of dollars. The craziest thing is when organizations are willing to rely on wireless technology for their primary connectivity but pinch pennies by choosing the cheapest and many times least experienced wireless vendor or wireless installation companies for their projects.

Tags: General, Wireless 101, Wireless Industry