Alpha Omega Wireless Blog

Understanding Fixed Wireless Backhaul Configurations

Posted by Joe Wargo on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 @ 03:14 PM

Wireless backhaul, also known as fixed wireless bridges, has become a standard means of creating a microwave communication between locations; whether building to building, last mile wireless to connect remote locations to a network presence, or for connecting devices like IP video cameras, access control, SCADA devices, client devices, or phones to networks. Wireless backhaul can be deployed in several network configurations.

Fixed Wireless RepeaterA point to point wireless bridge is when only two microwave radio ends are bridged together to create a single wireless network path. Point to point wireless links are an ideal complement or replacement to leased lines and fiber. A point to point microwave link is used to create a wireless bridge network between two buildings to connect LAN connectivity or for creating a microwave link between two towers to join two WAN network segments together across large distances. Point to point wireless bridges can be licensed microwave links or unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges and can provide throughput as low as 10Mbps up to GigE full duplex (with gigabit wireless).

Licensed microwave links used for point to point wireless backhaul operate in the 6GHz, 11GHz, 18GHz, and 23GHz frequencies and provide true full duplex wireless Ethernet and TDM communications. Licensed microwave links can provide up to 366Mbps full duplex or 732Mbps aggregate throughput using a single radio unit. Dual radio units can be combined on a single antenna to provide double the bandwidth and complete failover redundancy.

A few exceptions are the 24GHz microwave links that are unlicensed but work just like the licensed 23GHz microwave links and provide the full duplex connectivity and the 60GHz millimeter wave systems that provide up to full duplex gigabit wireless backhaul. There is also the 80GHz millimeter wave E-band that is a registered frequency that is used to provide gigabit wireless links. Unlicensed point to point wireless Ethernet bridges typically communicate in TDD because they use the same frequency channel to talk and listen. They can provide up to 300Mbps aggregate throughput.

Point to multipoint base station

Point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges use a hub spoke configuration using a Base Station Unit ("BSU" or "AP") that communicates with multiple Subscriber Units. This is similar to a cellular network where multiple mobile devices talk back to a cell tower location. Point to multipoint wireless backhaul systems are ideal for interconnecting campus buildings, security systems, control systems, IP video surveillance cameras, WISP applications, integrating remote business sites, or installing last mile connections. Point to multipoint wireless bridges operate in the unlicensed wireless frequency bands of 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 5.3GHz, 5.4GHz, or 5.8GHz. Point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges can provide up to 300Mbps aggregate throughput.

Wireless mesh configurations are used to create a wireless network where a radio node can communicate with two or more other wireless mesh nodes. Wireless mesh networks offer great redundancy. If one wireless mesh node can no longer operate, all the other wireless mesh nodes can still communicate with each other, directly or through one or more intermediate outdoor wireless bridge links. Each wireless Ethernet bridge link can send and receive messages in a wireless mesh network. Each link also functions as a router and can relay messages for its neighbors. Through the relaying process, a packet of wireless data will find its way to its destination, passing through intermediate links with reliable communication.

Mesh wireless backhaul networks are typically configured in a star topology or can be in a daisy chain configuration. They are used a lot in networks for wireless video backhaul and municipal wireless networks. Wireless mesh radios operate in unlicensed wireless backhaul frequencies like that of point to multipoint wireless bridges and can provide up to 300Mbps aggregate throughput.


Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless Industry, Point to Multipoint, wireless mesh, Wireless 101

Crossing the Great Microwave Communication Divide

Posted by Joe Wargo on Sat, May 29, 2010 @ 03:25 PM

There is no doubt that there is a demand for greater IP bandwidth by both the consumer and commercial enterprise. The work place across all vertical markets has become more dependent on electronic communication. The work place relies on e-mail, VoIP phones, file storage and sharing, application delivery, collaboration, reporting, IP Video, Access Control, etc. Everywhere we turn we see the consumer using the internet for entertainment, personal interaction, managing their finances, content delivery, etc.

So how are we going to deliver all the necessary bandwidth and provide internet connectivity to all areas of the country? Ask a government official or the lobbyist of the large telecommunication providers and they'll say run fiber everywhere. Sounds great but when reality hits the notion of fiber everywhere is as mythical as a unicorn. Technically can it be done? Yes if you can wait several decades and have trillions of dollars to spend and don't mind replacing it all because by the time it's all deployed it's obsolete or needs to be replaced due to deterioration.

Licensed Microwave Backhaul RepeaterAs the USA spends millions lobbying for a fiber build out and billions more slowly deploying a fiber backhaul infrastructure the rest of the world is leap frogging us by skipping over a fiber infrastructure by rapidly deploying wireless backhaul using microwave communications and technologies like WiMax backhaul and LTE. They are getting bandwidth in even the most remote places in the matter of months and have done so at a fraction of the cost. They also benefit from having scalable infrastructure protecting the overall CAPEX and future growth.

Here is an example: Out in a rural area if you needed to run fiber 5 miles it could take over a year and a million dollars to do so. You would need to first gain right away access to run the fiber cabling, get permits from potential multiple entities, set up long term land use agreements, install poles every 100ft in order to string the fiber along (which is cheaper than trying to trench the ground five miles to lay conduit), run the fiber and fusion splice it along the way, install expensive head end equipment on both ends, and then figure out how to spread it out from there. I guess you run even more fiber? Name a carrier that is willing to spend millions to get fiber out to a small community where it would take decades for them to get an ROI.

Wireless backhaul using microwave communications in the same scenario can be deployed in days and cost less than $100K. With a point to point wireless backhaul you do not have the need to get right away access, need permits beyond the two end points, have any need for costly infrastructure along the path, or have expensive head end equipment. From the end point you can easily spur off wireless connectivity to other locations using point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges, point to point wireless backhaul, WiMax backhaul, or wireless mesh. This can be done in days not years and at a fraction of the cost of fiber.

The argument comes up that fiber delivers greater bandwidth. Not true. Wireless backhaul can use licensed microwave links delivering better than gigabit wireless communication and if more bandwidth is needed it's quick and simple to add more microwave links.

What about reliability? Let me ask you. What happens when a wood pole holding aerial fiber get hit by a car or knocked down in a storm. Don't laugh it happens more than you think. Even fiber in underground conduits gets destroyed. See my article "Outdoor Wireless Bridges or Fiber, Which Do You Trust." If it's a clean break fiber can be fusion spliced back together. In most cases where a fiber pole goes down or gets ripped out by a backhoe, the fiber gets stretch and has to be replace but cutting it at two ends and a new piece fusion spliced back in. This can take hours if not days to accomplish. If a microwave radio fails it can be swapped out in the matter of hours.

A fixed wireless microwave link can go distances up to 50+ miles and provide data rates of 10Mbps full duplex to GigE Full Duplex (gigabit wireless). With proper wireless system design, a fixed wireless Ethernet bridge can provide 99.999% reliability. Wireless Ethernet bridges can be installed at a lowered throughput and later software upgraded to higher bandwidth when needed allowing for a lower wireless installation and protecting the CAPEX for future growth.

In order to get broadband across America at any reasonable time frame and at realistic costs we must turn to wireless broadband technology. The biggest hold up is the FCC opening up more spectrum for wireless backhaul.

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Wireless Industry, Point to Multipoint, WiMax, wireless mesh

Unlicensed 24GHz Point to Point Wireless Backhaul Option

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 09:17 AM

Point to point wireless backhaul can be either a licensed microwave link or an unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridge. The terms "unlicensed wireless" (also called "license exempt) and "licensed microwave" refer to the radio frequency spectrum characteristics set by the FCC or equivalent national government regulatory body. Licensed microwave communication products require regulatory approval before a wireless installation can take place while unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges can be deployed without any regulatory approval.

SAF Lumnia 24GHz

Most common unlicensed wireless bridges operate in the 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 5.3GHz, 5.4GHz, and 5.8GHz frequency bands. Unlicensed wireless backhaul is susceptible to wireless interference. See article "Wireless Interference - The Effect on Unlicensed Wireless Backhaul." There is also millimeter wave 60GHz band used for gigabit wireless backhaul that is unlicensed. Licensed microwave links typically operate in 6GHz, 11GHz, 18GHz, and 23GHz. See article "Licensed Microwave Wireless Backhaul." There are a few bands like 4.9GHz public safety band and the 80GHz E-Band that are registered with the FCC but are not truly licensed.

Then there is a part of the spectrum that is mostly overlooked and forgotten about. 24GHz is an unlicensed frequency that can be used for microwave communication for point to point wireless backhaul. For a wireless Ethernet bridge, 24GHz offers some great advantages. Because of the ERIP 24GHz is identical to 23GHz band and can be used for shorter range wireless links (typically under 2 miles) but it has tremendous advantages. First it's rarely used so there is virtually little to no wireless interference. Manufactures that make 24GHz microwave communication radios are those that manufacture 23GHz licensed microwave links and use the same carrier grade microwave radio platform adjusted to operate at 24GHz. As a microwave backhaul link systems can do up to 366Mbps full duplex using 256QAM at 56MHz wide channels. That's 720Mbps aggregate throughput!

Like licensed microwave links, a point to point wireless Ethernet bridge in the 24GHz unlicensed wireless band provides carrier grade wireless backhaul. 24GHz wireless backhaul is ideal for point to point wireless bridges in areas where there is a lot of wireless interference. The unlicensed wireless 5.8GHz band is becoming heavily saturated and it's becoming difficult to deploy wireless Ethernet bridges in many areas. Because the 24GHz band is unlicensed a wireless installation of a 24GHz point to point wireless link can be deployed in a day without the need to wait for a FCC license.

There are many applications that need 100Mbps full duplex connectivity or greater. Millimeter wave 60GHz gigabit wireless radios are also great for shorter applications, but not ever client needs gigabit wireless connections. Most 24GHz microwave communication links can be installed as a 100Mbps full duplex wireless backhaul and can be software upgrade up to 360Mbps full duplex (720Mbps aggregate throughput) protecting the CAPEX investment.

If you need a point to point wireless backhaul that can provide 99.999% reliability, need full duplex connectivity, and are worried about wireless interference then take a look at 24GHz!

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Wireless 101

WiMax Backhaul – What it is and what it’s not, Part 2

Posted by Joe Wargo on Mon, May 03, 2010 @ 02:04 PM

From Part 1, we described how WiMax backhaul is a point to multipoint wireless backhaul technology used to create high bandwidth wireless Ethernet bridges between a Base Station Unit (or an array of BSU's) to a Subscriber Unit (or CPE device). WiMax backhaul in the USA, according to the regulations of the FCC, is 50MHz wide of the 3.65GHz frequency band and is a non-exclusive use of microwave wireless, although a service provider must register the wireless bridge broadcast. In other countries the unlicensed wireless 3.5GHz band is common. Licensed microwave 2.5GHz is used by some carriers.

Service providers have adopted WiMax backhaul as a technology that they could readily deploy cost effectively to provide the last mile fixed wireless connectivity with greater bandwidth. It wasn't until later that WiMax backhaul evolved to the mobile carrier space. WiMax currently is a competing 4G technology to LTE (note: see article "WiMax Outdoor Wireless Bridges versus LTE Wireless Networks" for more detial). There are a lot of articles on whether WiMax and LTE truly compete or will end up being complimentary technologies providing different service benefits. The one issue with WiMax is because of the higher frequency bands it does not do well with penetrating obstructions like passing through walls of a building providing coverage indoors. The use of OFDM and MIMO do allow for (NLOS) non-line-of-sight wireless connectivity outdoors.

WiMax backhaul does not compete with the Wi-Fi standards, nor does it replace it. There will continue to be the need for Wi-Fi indoors and around campus environments to provide network connectivity to the LAN. WiMax backhaul will allow mobile device to get high speed internet from the carrier service provider companies that the devices are associated with (such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.).

The bottom line is WiMax backhaul is truly for service providers and mobile carriers. WiMax is not a solution for an end-user. The technologies used by WiMax have already been used for years now (e.g. OFDM and MIMO). WiMax is not a licensed microwave wireless solution that will completely avoid wireless interference. Nor will WiMax backhaul replace point to point wireless backhaul, licensed microwave links or unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges. Because of the small channel width available currently, WiMax doesn't bring any higher bandwidth for an end user application. The WiMax 2 initiative takes more advantage of the use of MIMO and will provide more bandwidth, like wireless Ethernet bridges that use 802.11n chipsets today.

Today there are many systems that can produce higher wireless backhaul bandwidth by using standard unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges compared to using WiMax as a wireless backhaul solution. Many manufactures have cashed in on the WiMax standard and have over sold its capabilities and what it's for to the end user market place.

If you are not a mobile carrier or a service provider (WISP), WiMax backhaul does not provide you any advantages over other outdoor wireless Ethernet bridge systems that have been deployed for many years now. To register WiMax is pretty difficult in many areas because many WISP and mobile carriers already have taken the spectrum. Note: see image below showing the areas already registered by service providers and mobile carriers in the Sacramento and San Francisco, CA area.

WiMax Backhaul Coverage

If you need a point to multipoint wireless backhaul solution there has been for years wireless equipment that have the same benefits of WiMax, such as OFDM and use MIMO, that can actually provide much greater bandwidth ( now up to 300Mbps).

Is WiMax good for you? As a mobile user it will provide us great wireless backhaul throughput to our mobile devices. For end users that need another internet provider solution, especially in areas where they can't get DSL, WiMax will allow service providers to provide a high quality wireless Ethernet bridge to areas that were either technically difficult or too costly to provide connectivity to. But for Government, Enterprise, or Private networks it does nothing!

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless Industry, Point to Multipoint, WiMax, Wireless 101

Outdoor Wireless Bridges or Fiber, Which Do You Trust

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 @ 04:07 PM

Talk to most IT Network Administrators and they will tell you how great their fiber network is. Mention outdoor wireless bridges, either point to point wireless backhaul or point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges, and they'll say a wireless Ethernet bridge is not as reliable as their fiber. This is an obvious response from someone that hasn't experienced a carrier grade wireless installation!

An experienced IT Director once told me, "The question is not if your fiber backhaul will go down, but when will it go down." This was on a day where he experienced his fiber being cut due to some construction workers trenching up the conduit that his fiber was in during a road repair project. This happens more often than you think. Why do you think most SLA'a by a telecommunications companies are only 99.9% uptime.  

Ever question how long it takes for a telecommunications company to do a truck roll to repair a cut fiber? If it's a clean break fiber can sometimes be fusion spliced back together. In most cases where a fiber pole goes down or gets ripped out by a backhoe, the fiber gets stretch and has to be replace but cutting it at two ends and a new piece fusion spliced back in. This can take hours if not days to accomplish. What would be the cost to your business if that occurred?

This picture shows a local telecommunications companies main fiber line providing the main backhaul for a city government laying on the ground after a pole fell over. It has been like this for weeks. 

Fiber on ground

Most people don't think about the fiber once it leaves their building or know the path it takes. Most long haul fiber in established urban areas runs inside sewer lines. In rural areas fiber mostly runs along telephone poles. Ever drive down a road and see a bunch of wood telephone poles leaning from side to side? Well that might just be the fiber your network is running on.

Now let's talk about microwave communication using a point to point wireless bridge. A fixed wireless microwave link can go distances up to 50+ miles and provide data rates of 10Mbps full duplex to GigE Full Duplex (gigabit wireless). If proper wireless system design is done, a fixed wireless Ethernet bridge can provide a predictable reliability of 99.999% uptime. That's less than 5 minutes of predictable outage a year.

Microwave communication can be in the form of a point to point wireless backhaul, a point to multipoint wireless bridge system, or a mesh wireless Ethernet bridge. If a microwave radio fails it can be swapped out in the matter of minutes (provided a spare is maintained). After an earthquake or other natural disaster, a wireless system can be realigned immediately getting communications back up and running. Wireless backhaul was used after Hurricane Katrina for months before the telecommunication companies could get their fiber repaired. The biggest concern with wireless backhaul is the potential for wireless interference. Using a licensed microwave link can solve any interference concerns.

Customers that have experienced a good wireless installation typically use their point to point wireless backhaul as their primary connection and downgrade their leased telco circuit (saving them reoccurring costs) as a secondary. A wireless link also puts control back into the hands of the owner rather than relying on a telco. You can't fixed a down telephone pole because a tree branch fell on it, but you can swap out a wireless Ethernet bridge radio easily.

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Point to Multipoint, Wireless 101

Non Line of Sight Point to Point Wireless Backhaul

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 @ 01:42 PM

Does an outdoor wireless point to point bridge require Line-of-Sight ("LOS") or can a quality wireless Ethernet bridge perform under Non-line-of-Sight ("NLOS") conditions? LOS is when both antennas in a outdoor wireless bridge system must have clear visibility with one another and have no encroachments to the first Fresnel Zone. In a NLOS situation there is either limited visibility from one wireless antenna to the other (near-line-of-sight or" nLOS") caused by a Fresnel Zone encroachment or complete obstruction blocking the visibility between the two wireless antennas.

NLOS wireless backhaul
The answer depends on the individual path and the throughput requirement. In many cases, if the wireless design and wireless installation is done properly a quality NLOS microwave link will provide good quality high bandwidth.

General Overview of Point to Point Wireless Backhaul:

A typical outdoor wireless backhaul is used to pass higher throughput over greater distances. Outdoor wireless bridges operate in the SHF (Super High Frequency) band in unlicensed wireless backhaul 5.3GHz, 4.9GHz, 5.4GHz, 5.8GHz, and 24GHz or licensed microwave backhaul 6GHz, 11GHz, 18GHz, and 23GHz. There is also unlicensed 60GHz and registered 80GHz millimeter wave in the EHF (Extreme High Frequency) band. The unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges typically provide from 10Mbps to 300Mbps aggregate throughput. Unlicensed 24GHz and licensed microwave links offer up to 360+Mbps Full Duplex. 60GHz and 80GHz wireless bridge systems can provide up to GigE Full Duplex (gigabit wireless). The higher frequencies do not do well with penetrating obstructions.

For an outdoor wireless bridge to work the system gain must be greater that the total Path Loss. Historically, an outdoor wireless bridge required LOS providing first Fresnel Zone clearance. By having no obstructions in the first Fresnel Zone the receive signal are optimized and the out of phase signals are minimized.

General Overview of Non-Line-of Sight Wireless Bridges
When considering a point to point wireless backhaul, whether a licensed microwave link or an unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridge, one of the first questions asked is if there needs to be LOS to get a microwave link. Many don't understand the difference between wireless bridge technologies that they are use to (like cellular and cordless phones or Wi-Fi) compared to an outdoor point to point wireless Ethernet bridge.

Devices like cellular operate in a range from 800MHz to 1900MHz of the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) band. These frequencies do well with penetrating obstructions but have limited throughput capabilities. Most Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4GHz frequency of the UHF band and can provide higher bandwidth but is very limited in distance. Microwave communication signals are highly attenuated by an obstructed path. In a NLOS microwave link the RF signals will get to a destination by: diffraction around an object, reflection off objects, or by penetration through the obstruction.

For an outdoor wireless bridge, being used for high bandwidth, point to point backhaul to work in a NLOS application there are several requirements that need to be met. Proper power budget, fade mitigation, adaptive link characteristics, and proper demodulation in regards to dispersion. Because of obstructions in a NLOS situation there tends to be a large amount of multipath. Obstructions like trees add to multipath and add attenuation to the overall Path Loss of the microwave link. Trees can be tricky because they are not constant due to movement caused by wind, foliage changes during various seasons, moisture content of the foliage, etc. Constant obstructions like buildings or hills are easier to model and predict.

General Overview of NLOS Wireless Technology

Current wireless backhaul technologies can help in NLOS cases. MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) antenna signaling and spatial diversity reduces the amount of fade margin required. OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) which divides the data into several parallel data streams helping the fading that occurs with multipath. Adaptive rate modulation also helps by giving the wireless backhaul radio the ability to manage the modulation scheme and bandwidth according to the RSL (receive signal level) optimizing the microwave communication link. Outdoor wireless bridges that can take advantage of these wireless backhaul technologies are the unlicensed wireless systems. Unlicensed wireless backhaul using these technologies can provide up to 300Mbps aggregate throughput (depending again on the characteristics of the microwave link path).

A common question of why a licensed microwave link, which can provide higher, full duplex connectivity, doesn't use OFDM wireless or MIMO antenna solutions and why they can't be used in NLOS (non line of sight) applications. In a NLOS wireless link application point to point wireless Ethernet bridge radios that use OFDM or MIMO take advantage of multipath for their connectivity. Because a licensed microwave link is not to inject any interference on other licensed microwave backhaul operators in the area they must have LOS (line of sight) and not cause heavy multipath. If a licensed microwave radio was to cause a lot of wireless multipath it could potentially reflect into another existing licensed microwave communication radio belonging to another party.

Prior to considering a NLOS wireless backhaul, a wireless site survey and a proper wireless path calculation should be performed. Field test may need to be performed in order to verify if a NLOS microwave link will work or to gather accurate estimates on throughput performance. As with any point to point wireless backhaul, a certified expert should perform the wireless installation.

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless 101

Licensed Microwave Wireless Backhaul

Posted by Joe Wargo on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 @ 03:34 PM

Licensed microwave wireless backhaul is also known as fixed wireless backhaul. A microwave link is a point to point wireless bridge or a point to multipoint wireless bridge used for wireless Ethernet backhaul. Microwave backhaul is becoming more popular for wireless Ethernet bridge applications as a result of noise interference in unlicensed wireless spectrum (U-NII Band).

The term "Microwave" is a broad term that covers the UHF (Ultra High Frequency with frequencies between 300MHz and 3GHz) to the EHF (Extremely High Frequency with frequencies between 30GHz to 300GHz). Licensed microwave wireless Ethernet bridge systems operate in the SHF (Super High Frequency with frequencies between 3GHz to 30GHz) and the EHF bands. Typical licensed microwave link frequencies used for wireless backhaul operate within 3.65GHz WiMax (as a point to multipoint wireless backhaul), 4.9GHz public Safety, 6GHz, 11GHz, 18GHz, 23GHz bands and the 80GHz millimeter wave E-band.  Microwave link example

For example: a licensed microwave point to point wireless Ethernet bridge that operates in 23GHz band will have a licensed frequency channel to transmit on and a channel to receive on. One end of the wireless link being channelized on the low end of the 23GHz band and the other end of the wireless link channelized on the high end of the 23GHz band.

Licensed Microwave link

To operate a licensed microwave wireless radio system one must obtain a license from the FCC by performing frequency coordination, filing a public notice (PCN), and submitting an application (601 form) with the FCC. This process is to ensure that no one else is already operating on the same frequency or a frequency that will inject interference on existing systems. Getting a license to operate a microwave link is inexpensive and can be obtained in the matter of weeks. Licensed microwave link operators are permitted exclusive use of part of the band on a particular azimuth over an assigned geographic area. If licensed radios encounter interference, it is typically resolved with the assistance of the regulatory body.

A fixed wireless microwave link can go distances up to 50+ miles and provide data rates of 10Mbps full duplex to GigE Full Duplex (gigabit wireless). Licensed microwave backhaul radios provide security from the risk of interference from other RF systems. Interference can degrade a radio system's performance and in some cases even prevent the system from functioning at all. Licensed microwave wireless systems can be engineered to provide predictable reliability of 99.999% uptime.

Licensed microwave wireless radio systems are typically built and designed for long term solutions. The wireless bridge hardware is designed to provide carrier grade performance (high bandwidth and low latency). Unlike many of the Atheros (Wi-Fi) chipset based wireless Ethernet bridge systems many use, licensed microwave link systems use actual transceivers and receivers hardware that do not have high IP packet overhead. Because a microwave link is licensed and is not to inject and interference on other licensed microwave backhaul operators in the area they must have LOS (line of sight) and not cause heavy multipath. This is a common question of why licensed microwave radios don't use OFDM or MIMO and why they can't be used in NLOS (non line of sight) applications. In a NLOS wireless link application radios that use OFDM or MIMO take advantage of multipath for their connectivity.

Prior to considering a licensed microwave backhaul a wireless site survey and a proper wireless path calculation should be performed. As with any point to point wireless backhaul system a certified expert should perform the wireless installation. When an organization needs a carrier grade network connection where fiber is not an option or is too expensive, a point to point wireless licensed microwave link is a cost effective solution.

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Wireless 101

Point to Multipoint Wireless Ethernet Bridge

Posted by Joe Wargo on Sat, Apr 03, 2010 @ 04:21 PM

Outdoor point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridge systems are flexible, economical, and easily deployed wireless backhaul solutions for connecting multiple remote sites to a network. Point to multipoint wireless backhaul is an ideal wireless last mile solution for interconnecting campus buildings, remote facilities, security systems, access control systems, IP video surveillance cameras, SCADA PLC's, or WISP applications as a DSL replacement. Point to multipoint wireless can also be used to backhaul wireless mesh networks. Theycan also be used to eliminate telco dependancy or to provide wireless network redundancy.

point to multipoint wirelessPoint to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridge systems are made up of a Base Station Unit (BSU or AP) that can communicate with multiple Subscriber Units (SU's). Many systems can handle over 100 plus SU's per BSU. In most cases the BSU's provide a sector antenna beam pattern (typical is 60 degree, with some systems allowing external antenna configurations for expanding to 90 and 120 degree sector antennas). Multiple BSU's can be installed to create a 360 degree sector (like a typical cell site configuration). 

Point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridge systems can operate in the unlicensed wireless spectrum (900MHz, 2.4Ghz, 5.3GHz, 5.4GHz, or 5.8GHz), the 3.65GHz WiMax spectrum,  or in the 4.9GHz public safety band. There are propriatery point to multipoint wireless backhaul systems operated by various telecommunication providers that operate in the lincensed microwave wireless spectrums.

Point to multipoint wireless backhauls is generally used where bandwidth requirements are generally low, such as a DSL or T1 repalcement. Recently though  many point to multipoint wireless systems have taken advantage of the Wi-Fi 802.11n chip sets and can now provide wireless bandwidth up to 300Mbps aggregate throughput. Note: the actual throughput at any given SU is determined by the number of SU's connected in the system and the network configuration.

Some of the better point to multipoint wireless systems use OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) to provide better near and non line of sight ("NLOS") connectivity. The newer 802.11n chip set systems also take advantage of multipathing by incorporating MIMO (2x2 or 3x3) to give even better NLOS capability and higher bandwidth. The range of a point to multipoint wireless backhaul can extend as far as 10 miles with clear line of sight ("LOS"), by using high gain directional antennas connected to the SU's. The optimum performance though of most point to multipoint wireless is in the 1 to 2 mile max range. NLOS applications need to be closer to the BSU / AP in order to have adequate system gain. 

There are a lot of manufactures that offer point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges. Some manufactures have been in the point to multipoint wireless arena for many years. Proxim with their Tsunami MP.11 series (5054-R which is a tri-band 5.3GHz, 5.4GHz, or 5.8GHz system, MP.16  that is a 3.3GHz, 3.5GHz, or 3.65GHz licensed WiMax system, and their newer high bandwidth MP8100 series), Motorola with their Canopy wireless (their newest is their Canopy 400 series that operates in the 5.4Ghz and the PtMP320 WiMax), and others such as: Alvarion, Firetide, Trango, Solectek and BelAir. Some of the newer players include FluidMesh (which specializes in wireless video backhaul and wireless mesh), Ubiquiti,and InscapeData.

When designing a point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridge system it is highly recommended to perform a wireless site survey and a spectrum analysis. All systems regardless of how good they are have their limitations. The biggest source of failure we come across is unrealistic expectations of performance. Any organization thinking of deploying a point to multipoint wireless system should consult a professional wireless integration company that has a lot of experience designing and performing outdoor wireless installation



Tags: Licensed wireless, General, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless Industry, wireless video, Wireless 101

Point to Point Wireless Ethernet Bridge

Posted by Joe Wargo on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 @ 02:30 PM

Point to point wireless Ethernet bridges, also known as fixed wireless backhaul, are becoming extremely popular among organizations across all vertical markets. Once used only by the large telecommunication companies, wireless Ethernet bridges are being implemented by everyone, from federal, state, county, and local governments, utilities, health care organizations, agricultural industries, and even the private commercial sectors. 

Bridgewave Proxim wireless Ethernet bridge Wireless backhaul is an ideal complement or complete replacement to leased lines and fiber. Whether the requirement is to link the data and voice networks between individual buildings or link networks across large distances, organizations are increasingly turning to point to point wireless networks, both licensed microwave links and unlicensed wireless backhaul, as the preferred solution. Point to point wireless backhaul provides several advantages over leased lines:

  • Increased Bandwidth - With all the applications that are now driven across the network, IT departments are requiring more bandwidth across their network infrastructure. An outdoor wireless Ethernet bridge can provide true Ethernet throughput up to GigE Full Duplex (using gigabit wireless links).
  • Lower cost of installation and no recurring costs - Probably the number one driver for turning to outdoor wireless backhaul is the tremendous ROI point to point wireless bridges provide. On a 100Mbps Full Duplex wireless backhaul link the typical ROI is about 3 months. This is compared to a leased  DS3 at 45Mbps. So you can get over double the throughput and eliminate any reoccuring operational costs almost immediately. The wireless cost reduction savings can be even greater when compared o the cost of installing fiber networks.
  • Last mile connections - In many cases, organizations such as government or utilities who maintain multiple sites, just can't get their required bandwidth out to remote locations. Sometimes the best a local telco can provide is a T1. Point to point wireless can reach up to 50+ miles (if designed and installed properly). Where once you could only get a T1 circuit, you can now get 100Mbps Full Duplex up to GigE  (gigabit wireless) throughput, better known as wireless last mile.
  • Quick installation- A typical point to point wireless backhaul can be installed in a couple days. I always recommend using industry professionals that have a lot of experience (see my article "Wireless Installtion Done Properly").We've talked to a lot of clients that have waited over 6 months to have their telco provision a simple circuit. This is especially true when compared to fiber installations that can takes years to gain right away access and time it takes to trench conduit paths.
  • Reliability - Wireless backhauls designed and installed properly can provide 99.999% predictable reliability (see my article "Is Wireless Reliable"). Most telco's only provide a SLA of 99.9% uptime. In many cases where a client has installed wireless backhaul, like licensed microwave or millimeter wave gigabit wireless, for fiber redundancy we have seen the client actually convert over to using the wireless point to point backhaul as their primary and down grade their fiber connection as their redundancy. This is because the wireless backhaul typically provides a more direct path (less routing in the case of leased circuits) and is cheaper to maintain.

Point to point wireless Ethernet bridges can be used by any organization that has more than one facility that they need to connect to. There is a multitude of products in the market, both licensed microwave links and unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges, that can solve many connectivity issues. Th price of wireless backhaul has come way down in price and is more affordable than ever. The quality of outdoor wireless backhaul is better than most other methods of connectivity.

The main reason more organizations haven't turned to outdoor wireless backhaul is either it is just not feasible do to their locations or a lack of education on what can be done with today's technology. The first step is to get a Feasibility Study by a qualified outdoor wireless vendor. A good wireless integrator can outline the best solution and the cost benefits.

Tags: Licensed wireless, General, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless Industry, Wireless 101

Outdoor Wireless Installation Done Properly

Posted by Joe Wargo on Sun, Mar 28, 2010 @ 04:39 PM

Proper outdoor wireless installation is the most important element of a wireless backhaul system. Over the past decade I have troubleshot hundred's of wireless backhaul networks and 95% of the issues I have seen are due to improper wireless installation.

Many would argue that choosing the right outdoor wireless bridge equipment is the most important. I would agree that there are both good and bad outdoor wireless backhaul equipment on the market, but for the most part the majority of wireless backhaul manufactures build pretty reliable radio hardware. The biggest difference comes between Carrier/Enterprise grade (higher end, low latency, microwave equipment that typically have a 20+ year shelf life) and Value Line equipment (typically under $5K and using 802.11b/g/a/n chip sets). 

Others would say that proper wireless network design and choosing the right technology, e.g. licensed microwave links or unlicensed wireless backhaul systems, is the most important. There are pluses and minuses with both systems, such as: potential wireless interference on unlicensed wireless backhaul systems or the need for clear line-of-sight with a licensed microwave link. Both systems if installed properly can provide reliable networks. Proper wireless engineering will produce the optimum  wireless network design using the appropriate equipment.

Even with the best wireless network design and best outdoor wireless backhaul equipment on the market, improper wireless installation will prevent a wireless backhual network from truly working to its potential. Many times we hear clients say the system worked fine when it was first installed but it has degraded over time. This can be caused by many issue. There was no interference when the system was first installed. Trees or other obstructions are now in the path, either creating a complete Fresnel Zone blockage or partial encroachment on the first Fresnel Zone. Antennas could have come out of alignment. Cabling and connectors could be weathered or damaged. The list goes on. Just like a race car, it must be built properly and maintenanced to work optimally. 

Many outdoor wireless bridge systems we troubleshoot lack proper materials for cabling, mounting, and weather proofing. Over time these systems get effected by the weather and slowly degrade. Systems that are not weather proofed correctly can get damaged over time by water getting into the connections or cabling. Improper mounting can cause antenna systems to come out of alignment. Systems installed with out the proper amount of fade margin can also have periodic issues with weather (see my article "Does Weather Effect Wireless").

Wireless backhaul, whether you are talking about wireless mesh, WiMax, point to multipont wireless, or point to point wireless backhaul, systems can function with extreme reliability and predictability if installed correctly. 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 we see is organizations that are willing to rely on wireless technology for their primary connectivity but pinch pennies by choosing the cheapest and many times least experienced installation companies. Worst is when a manufacture convinces and end user with little to no experience installing an outdoor wireless bridge that they can do it themselves.

 

Wireless Installation Tower climber

 

The best wireless installers are those that have a lot of tower installation experience. They typically install systems to last for many years. They also don't want to lose revenue having to come back and climb a tower again to repair a bad installation. Even though many of the outdoor wireless systems seem straight forward or easy to install based on the manufactures operation manual, the fact remains that outdoor wireless installation is a skilled trade and best performed by professionals with years of experience. You can change the oil in your high end sports car but that doesn't mean you should!

 

Tags: Licensed wireless, General, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless Industry, Wireless 101