Alpha Omega Wireless Blog

Wireless Backhaul for the Smart Grid

Posted by Joe Wargo on Wed, Jun 05, 2013 @ 08:19 AM

There is a lot of talk about the push and mandates about modernizing and moving our electrical system to the Smart Grid. The electrical grid in the USA is out of date and doesn’t allow for the use of modern technology to provide more efficient and cost effective power generation, delivery, and consumption of electrical energy. The goal of modernizing our electrical grid by using current technologies is to provide more reliable distribution, improve fault detection and allow self-healing of the network without the intervention of technicians, create greater efficiencies in monitoring and load adjustments based on peak using times and locations, provide greater security to the grid, and to empower the consumer to be able to better manage their usage and costs.

Future Smart Grid

To make the Smart Grid a reality the implementation of modern communication technology needs to be deployed. Technologies such as, smart meters, intelligent thermostats and appliances, real time sensor metering and controls, and remote monitoring all require the use of reliable IP based communication infrastructure networks. The problem is electrical utility organizations’ electrical network (substations and end consumers) covers vast geographic areas. Many of which are not always near readily available fiber connectivity. This is especially true in rural areas. Even in urban areas there is sometimes difficulty in last mile connections where needed.

In order to build out the Smart Grid wireless backhaul plays a vital role and solves many problems by providing necessary high-speed bandwidth for the use of Smart Grid technologies. By the utilities using wireless Ethernet bridge technologies the utilities gain greater security by having a private network, they can also build in wireless redundancy for greater reliability, have quicker implementation time, realize huge cost savings, provide their workforce with wireless mobility, and have the flexibility for future expansion and growth.

Utility Wireless

Since the utilities have right-a-way access and easements it becomes easy for them to build out a wireless backhaul network using point to point wireless bridges. Fiber equivalent networks can be achieved with licensed microwave backhaul (see more at “Understanding Microwave Communication Frequencies and Point to Point Wireless Bridge Compared to Fiber”). Today a licensed microwave link can provide 6Gbps+ full duplex wireless connectivity. Using a wireless repeater can allow for long distance wireless backhaul. A typical microwave link can be deployed beyond 20 to 30 miles in a single point to point wireless bridge.

With a core high bandwidth microwave backhaul infrastructure, the use of high speed point to multipoint wireless can be deployed for last mile wireless connectivity. Technologies like WiMax backhaul and LTE allow for licensed interference free point to multipoint wireless bridge connections. True usable IP bandwidth of 10Mbps to 100Mbps can be delivered to the field using point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridge systems. Wireless Mobility can bring high-speed data connections to workforce vehicles allowing for remote access of data files, email, work orders, and VoIP.

Bringing wireless Ethernet connectivity to the grid and to substations provides the ability to not only perform RTU / PLC monitoring and management, but also opens the way for wireless video surveillance and perimeter security, access control, alarm monitoring, remote workforce capability and access, and real time data collection. Most of all, wireless backhaul allows the integration of other third party Smart Grid devices like Smart Meters, remote switching, and SCADA.

Wireless Ethernet bridges bring the necessary infrastructure to Smart Grid technology. The main issue is that electrical organizations are really good at power generation and delivery, but they are not necessarily experts in telecommunications. It’s not best practices for them to build the internal expertise to build or maintain a large complex wireless backhaul network. Recently attending a Smart Grid conference it became apparent that many electrical organizations have relied on manufacture vendors, whose only goal is to move their product, to guide and influence the type of wireless hardware and wireless network topology they are trying to use for their telecommunications infrastructure. This becomes very problematic when it comes to the quality of RF (radio frequency) devices being used and the overall wireless network design.

In order to provide a long-term, reliable, interference free, and scalable wireless infrastructure it is important to use best of breed, carrier grade infrastructure, along with the use of proper frequency spectrum. Also from a security standpoint the proper wireless devices should be used and configured properly. It’s amazing to see how many electrical organizations have deployed value line, Wi-Fi chipset based, unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges using 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 4.9GHz, and 5.8GHz for their mission critical network. Many of these systems only have a five year mean to failure time rating and are easily effected by wireless interference. These systems are in themselves not bad or lack some quality, but they fit where they fit and the Smart Grid infrastructure may not be the best use of these unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridge systems.

Electrical utilities have a lot of licensed microwave spectrum available for their use for free or at a very low cost basis. On the flip side many microwave radio systems are built for true full duplex operations, operate at the lowest possible latency, run interference free, and are built for a 20+year life cycle. There is also hardened point to multipoint wireless systems and SCADA telemetry radios designed for EMI protection precisely for use around high voltage applications. 

As with any technology there is value level and enterprise level equipment and software. For mission critical wireless networks there is a large distinction between the quality, performance, and reliability of the two. Smart Grid implementers need to receive more education and proper knowledge transfer from the wireless backhaul industry so that the right business choices can be made on behalf of the country’s critical electrical infrastructure and ultimately the end consumer.

Tags: Alpha Omega Wireless, Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, General, Wireless Industry, AO Wireless, Point to Multipoint

Wireless Backhaul Used All Over SXSW

Posted by Joe Wargo on Sat, Mar 09, 2013 @ 06:06 PM

Wireless backhaul is used all over Austin during the SXSW event. In order to get Internet connectivity to major events and venues wireless bridges, in forms of point to point wireless bridge and point to multipoint wireless bridge technologies are used. At the events and venues Wi-Fi is also deployed to help provide wireless communications to enhance the user experience.

Wireless Repeater SXSW

At the SXSW 2013 (South by Southwest) Film and Music Festival tens of thousands of people from around the world swarm to Austin, TX to experience the latest in film, technology, gaming, and see the over 2000 bands that playing live at over 200 venues. The SXSW event merges film, music, and technology all in one place. Technology and social media are playing an even larger role at SXSW. Major technology, social media, and corporate giants like, Dell, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo, and others all have a presence and host amazing parties and events at SXSW.

In years past, one of the biggest complaints was the lack of broadband connectivity, that's if you could get connected at all. With so many people in such a concentrated area many of the cellular networks get overloaded and come to a crawl. Add to the fact that there is now a 2 to 1 ratio of Wi-Fi enabled devices to people. Laptops, iPhones, iPads, and all the other smartphone devices were present everywhere. This year SXSW wants to make sure that they can enhance the attendees experience by bringing wireless bandwidth to the people. Plus all the major event hosts are using a large amount of wireless bandwidth for production and exhibit displays.

The wireless communication at SXSW is being done by deploying a GigE microwave backhaul from a major local telecommunication provider to the roof of a hotel close to all the action. That location acts as a wireless repeater. Multiple point to point wireless bridge links are used from the wireless repeater location to provide wireless connections from 400Mbps full duplex wireless connectivity to 100Mbps wireless bridges.

Also from the same roof top that the wireless point to point links are initiated, point to multipoint wireless systems are used to provide multiple wireless connections. The point to multipoint wireless bridge end nodes receive anywhere from 10Mbps up to 100Mbps of wireless bandwidth.

In order to pull off having so much wireless frequency all over town coming from the wireless repeater site, multiple radio frequencies are used during the wireless network design and wireless installation. One of the largest challenges is the fact that during SXSW there is a lot of wireless interference caused by so many people deploying outdoor wireless, to include outdoor Wi-Fi.  Plus, since SXSW is a temporary event, the use of licensed microwave is not feasible and unlicensed wireless has to be used. Frequencies ranging from millimeter-wave (60GHz), unlicensed 24GHz point to point microwave, and unlicensed 5.3GHz and 5.8GHz wireless radios are used.

For the Wi-Fi at some of the events, wireless Wi-Fi arrays are used to deploy high density wireless communications (see “AO Wireless Deploys Xirrus Arrays at SXSW for High-Density Wireless”). SXSW doesn’t provide Wi-Fi at all the events but at some of the major ones they do in order to make sure the end user experience is enhanced. There is just too many venues to put Wi-Fi at all of them.

By using wireless backhaul, both point to point wireless bridges and point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges, wireless connectivity is deployed to venues and events that can be in buildings or out in the middle of a field or parking lot. Broadband is made available for production, point of sale systems, ticketing systems, exhibit interaction, and most of all an enhanced attendee experience.

Wireless backhaul used for the core network distribution and last mile wireless used to provide bandwidth to special event venues gives SXSW a lot of flexibility and the ability to provide Wi-Fi to attendees. Once the event is over the equipment will be removed as if it was never there.

Tags: Point to Point Wireless, General, Un-lincesed Wireless, Wireless Industry, Point to Multipoint

Point to Point Wireless Bridge Compared to Fiber

Posted by Joe Wargo on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 @ 04:51 PM

As a country we have relied on fiber communications as our primary means of wide area network connectivity. Fiber though is extremely expensive to provision due to right away access, permitting, construction, labor, and cost of material.  Meanwhile a lot of other countries have leap frogged the USA by deploying fixed wireless microwave communications. Many countries around the world are deploying wireless bridge microwave backhaul as their primary backbone telecommunications network. The costs of deploying a point to point wireless bridge can have a ROI of less than three months compared to even leasing fiber that is pre-existing.

Wireless backhaul can be deployed in a matter of weeks if not days. Wireless bridges such as unlicensed 5.8GHz point to point wireless and point to multipoint wireless, in 5.8GHz and 3.65GHz WiMax can be purchased off the shelf and installed in a few days. Licensed microwave communications in the form of a point to point wireless bridge, also called fixed wireless bridges, can be obtained and installed in a few weeks. (see more information "Understanding Fixed Wireless Backhaul Configurations")

wireless bridge

With advancements in technology and newer regulation from the FCC, wireless Ethernet bridge systems can deliver over GigE (more than 1Gbps full duplex) throughput. Equivalent to that of fiber. A fixed wireless microwave link can go upwards of 50 miles. 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.

Most people don't think about the fiber once it leaves their building or know the path it takes. Fiber in urban areas runs inside sewer lines, underground conduits, and aerial on phone and light poles. In rural areas fiber mostly runs aerial along telephone and electric 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.

Fiber Cut

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?

Microwave communication can be in the form of a point to point wireless backhaul, a point to multipoint wireless bridge, 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.  The biggest concern with wireless backhaul is the potential for wireless interference. Using a licensed microwave link can solve any interference concerns.(See more information "Wireless Backhaul Can Prevent Network Outages")

In order to get broadband across the USA at any reasonable time frame and at realistic costs we must turn to wireless backhaul technology. Fixed wireless, using both point to point wireless bridges and point to multipoint wireless (LTE and WiMax) can help expand our wide area network reach with carrier grade performance and reliability.

Tags: Alpha Omega Wireless, Point to Point Wireless, Licensed wireless, Wireless Industry, AO Wireless, Point to Multipoint, WiMax

LTE Wireless Communications

Posted by Joe Wargo on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 @ 12:18 PM

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a wireless communication standard originally developed to provide high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. LTE expands on 4G wireless high-speed point to multipoint wireless communications. LTE offers mobile telecommunication providers the ability to increase broadband wireless backhaul and allow for future expansion. The LTE specification provides downlink peak rates of 300 Mbit/s, uplink peak rates of 75 Mbit/s 

LTE Wireless Backhaul
LTE as a technology is primarily for the mobile providers and operates in licensed 700/800 MHz and 1700/1900 MHz in the United States. Other frequencies can be used internationally. LTE is typically not a wireless communication solution for enterprise and commercial end users. Other technologies, such as WiMax, point to point wireless, and point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges are readily available to non-mobile operates for their wireless communication needs. Although, there has been an increased opportunity for LTE for other non-mobile applications such as, Smart Grid and SCADA applications for water, gas, and electrical utilities. In this case LTE is used for both mobility and fixed wireless applications.

Utilities have the opportunity to acquire licensed wireless frequencies from the FCC and third party owners of spectrum (typically in the 700MHz bands). LTE can provide coverage areas in a macro cell of greater than 20+ miles. Ideal wireless communication coverage areas can be up to 11 miles with good coverage. LTE sites are typically on communication towers that are spaced out geographically.  These sites can be connected either via fiber or by using point to point wireless bridges, like licensed microwave backhaul. To avoid wireless interference it is recommended that point to point wireless backhaul be done with licensed wireless bridges and not unlicensed wireless point to point bridges. Wireless point to point links can provide up to GigE full duplex capacity. 

Because of the ability to use lower frequency bands LTE offers great coverage areas. It also protects an organzations investment by allowing for future upgrades and changes. WiMax also offeres similar coverage capability and wireless backhaul bandwidth. Both technologies offer great solutions for wireless backhaul for both mobile and fixed wireless communication applications. Even though it is truly a wireless communication standard derived for use by mobile phone porivders, other applications needing wireless broadband connectivity can benifit for the emerging tehnology. 

Tags: Alpha Omega Wireless, Wireless Industry, WiMax, LTE

Licensed Point to Point Wireless Bridge Solutions Come of Age

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 @ 04:03 PM

Licensed point to point wireless bridge systems are now becoming more of the norm rather than the exception. Historically, everyone turned to fiber as their primary choice for point to point data connectivity. Now with the recent changes to FCC regulations on point to point microwave, also referred to as “ptp wireless”, the opportunity to create high-speed bandwidth wireless point to point connections are easier than ever.

                                          Wireless 2 0        Wireless Roof Top

Point to point wireless backhaul, often referred to as fixed wireless backhaul or wireless Ethernet bridges, is a great solution for creating network connectivity between locations. Wireless point to point can be used as primary or redundant wireless networks. Wireless backhaul can be used for establishing data and voice network connections from building to building, communication tower to communication tower, field locations to a network presence, connecting network fiber segments, or last mile connections, etc. Point to point wireless Ethernet bridges can also be used for connecting devices on to networks, like IP video cameras, SCADA devices, etc.

Licensed point to point wireless backhaul is far easier and cheaper to deploy than fiber (See “Wireless Backhaul Makes Financial Sense”). Costs of running fiber can be upwards of $100K to $1M a mile. Point to point broadband wireless, especially point to point licensed wireless networks can now compete with fiber, not only in price per Mbps, but in performance and reliability. Plus there are many advantages of owning a private network, like security, support, and reliability.

The FCC has opened up the ability to use larger licensed point to point microwave spectrum channels (like in the 11GHz point to point licensed microwave spectrum). They also have allowed for higher ptp wireless modulation schemes up to 1024QAM at channel widths up to 80MHz wide. Plus with recent use of XPIC systems it is much easier to get licensed point to point microwave frequencies on a given path. (See: “Licensed Microwave Wireless Backhaul” for more information about point to point licensed microwave systems or “Licensed Microwave vs. Unlicensed Outdoor Wireless” for more information about the different types of point to point wireless systems.)

Today licensed point to point microwave radios can provide interference free GigE full duplex connectivity at 99.999% predictable reliability, and with <2ms latency. Multiple point to point microwave radios can be installed together and configured for even higher bandwidth, while providing compete failover redundancy, using 2+0, 3+0, and 4+0 configurations. Links upwards of 30+ miles can be achieved. Even further distances can be installed using a wireless repeater from a tall building roof top or communication tower.

The one disadvantage of point to point wireless bridge systems is the need for line-of-sight from antenna to antenna (aka “LOS”). This can be an issue with low lying buildings and trees. In those cases using a communication tower for a wireless repeater can solve the issue in many cases. Communication towers are all over the place. There are many publicly traded companies that offer lease space for point to point microwave antennas. If there is the ability to find land right use communication towers are relatively inexpensive to have installed. Point to point wireless backhaul has a rapid ROI (typically less than 6 months with no reoccurring costs). Adding a tower into the solutions may only add 3 to 4 months until the CAPEX ROI is achieved. Free standing towers at 100ft in height can be installed from $65,000 to $85,000. That is not much money when you look at the big picture.

Many countries around the world have leapfrogged the United States when it comes to wireless backhaul and taking advantage of wireless bandwidth. Here we have relied on fiber as the top pick for broadband, but the cost per mile and the issues with permitting and right of way access present an ongoing challenge, especially in rural America. Using point to point wireless bridges can expand the reach of high broadband bandwidth where fiber is a challenge.

Whether a private organization, an agricultural group, government agency, utility, healthcare organization, or education facility point to point licensed wireless maybe a perfect alternative to fiber or lease lines. 

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

Wireless Backhaul Used for Live Concert Events by SXSW

Posted by Joe Wargo on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 @ 09:58 PM

What do you do when you need to provide Internet connectivity for one of the largest live music and film festivals in the world? You build out a wireless backhaul network using point to point microwave!

SXSW2011
At the 2011 SXSW (South by Southwest) Film and Music Festival tens of thousands of people from around the world swarmed to Austin, TX to experience the latest in film and see the over 2000 bands that played live at over 200 venues. The SXSW event merges film, music and technology all in one place. Technology is playing an even larger role at SXSW. It was the place that Microsoft launched their new IE9 platform.

Austin was filled with members of the media reporting on the events and who's making news in the film and music industry. Bloggers are found on every corner writing about who's playing and getting signed to large record labels. Live concerts were broadcasted live over the Internet. Bands like the Foo Fighters, Duran Duran, Blue October, Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg, Bob Schneider, Crystal Bowersox, and many others showed up without much warning to perform.

In years past, one of the biggest complaints was the lack of broadband connectivity, that's if you could get connected at all. With so many people in such a concentrated area many of the cellular networks get overloaded and come to a crawl. Add to the fact that there is now a 1 to 1 or even a 2 to 1 ratio of wi-fi enabled devices to people. Laptops, iPhones, iPads, and all the other smartphone devices were present everywhere. This year SXSW wanted to make sure that they could enhance the attendees experience by bringing wireless bandwidth to the people.

SXSW could get a large (GigE) Internet pipe to their corporate office but couldn't get connectivity to the major facilities by the local telecommunication providers. With months of planning At&t, Time Warner, Verizon, etc. failed provide a temporary wireless solution. So they turned to Alpha Omega Wireless to solve the problem. We were able to build out a high bandwidth, point to point wireless backhaul network from their facility to some major venues around Austin. Even though the fiber providers couldn't do it with months of advanced notice the wireless installation of SXSW's wireless broadband was deployed in days.

Wireless Backhaul at SXSWBecause of the bandwidth demand we used full duplex microwave radios, such as SAF Lumina licensed microwave and 24GHz unlicensed wireless ethernet bridges, BridgeWave 60GHz wireless links, and a few unlicensed wireless bridges for specific events. Most venues were able to get 100Mbps full duplex wireless connectivity.

Wireless backhaul used for the core network distribution and last mile wireless used to provide bandwidth to special event venues gave SXSW a lot of flexibility and the ability to provide wi-fi to attendees. Once the event was over the equipment was removed as if it was never there.

Tags: Alpha Omega Wireless, Point to Point Wireless, General, Wireless Industry, wireless video, Wireless 101

Wireless Backhaul is a Winner in Natural Disasters

Posted by Joe Wargo on Sat, Mar 12, 2011 @ 11:07 PM

As a Wireless Integrator, that has deployed thousands of wireless Ethernet bridges, I am a firm believer that wireless technology for broadband backhaul not only provides a phenomenal value but in many cases is a better technology for broadband backhaul than traditional fiber / copper infrastructure. Wireless backhaul, whether we are talking about point to point wireless backhaul, using licensed microwave or an unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridge, point to multipoint wireless Ethernet backhaul (using 5GHz unlicensed wireless band or WiMax), or wireless mesh,  can provide greater reliability, last mile presence, quicker deployments, and is far cheaper than hard line infrastructure.

You can say, “Well you do wireless backhaul for a living so you are biased.” Let me tell you about a recent trip I took to a third world country and experienced a natural disaster. Recently I was on the island of Roatan in Honduras while a hurricane passed over the island. We experience sustained winds of 70+mph (with gusts of 100mph) and about 4 inches of rain. During the storm I was uploading photos to Facebook because I had a fast, uninterrupted full 3G cellular services without any outage or latency.

Roatan Hurricain
Remember Katrina? Well most of all the fiber networks in New Orleans were wiped out and untill today it hasn't been all fully replaced. Immediately after the hurricain there wireless networks were installed all over to provide voice and data connectivity.

Island TowerAll throughout the Caribbean and Central America most countries have leapfrogged the USA in the use of wireless backhaul for telecommunications and broadband services. A lot of countries can’t run fiber due to terrain (jungles, mountains, waterways, and a lack of infrastructure) and the pure inability to afford a fiber build out. Wireless though is everywhere. You can be in the jungles of Belize and have a solid 3G connection.  

In order to get broadband connectivity and voice service many of the Caribbean islands depend on point to point microwave connectivity. Then cellular and point to multipoint wireless is used to distribute wireless broadband around the island. One would wonder how well the service coverage would be and the quality of the wireless installation would be in a third world country. After seeing first hand during a hurricane I would say it’s pretty good! Back home in the USA where I am served by a local cable provider my internet connection gets knocked out all the time when we have a storm of 30 to 40MPH winds

Wireless backhaul is far easier and cheaper to deploy than fiber. Broadband wireless networks also allow for a lot of flexibility in access to a POP (point of presence) and network design. The greatest concern most people have with using wireless backhaul is if it’s reliable. From what I experienced I would say it’s extremely reliable. Understand that microwave radio equipment uses extremely little power. In most cases a microwave radio can be powered on a battery or over solar. Most outdoor radio units use -48vDC at 30W. A standard UPS can keep a wireless end node powered for hours. If installed properly a wireless network can provide 99.999% reliability. See my previous articles: “Does Weather Effect Wireless? The 5 Misconceptions - Part 1” and “Is Wireless Reliable? - The 5 Misconceptions - Part 2.”

Like I always say, if wireless backhaul is properly engineered and the wireless installation is done properly it is extremely reliable!

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

Wireless Backhaul Makes Financial Sense

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 @ 05:06 PM

Wireless backhaul, often referred to as fixed wireless backhaul or wireless Ethernet bridges, has become a standard for creating network connectivity between locations. Wireless backhaul can be used for establishing data network connections from building to building, field locations to a network presence, connecting network fiber segments, or last mile connections, etc. Wireless Ethernet bridges can also be used for connecting devices on to networks, like IP video cameras, SCADA devices, client devices, phones, two-way radio / pagers, etc.

Wireless backhaul can be in the form of point to point wireless, point to multipoint wireless, or wireless mesh configurations. Wireless bridges can be licensed microwave links or unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges. A licensed microwave link or wireless Ethernet bridge can provide throughput as low as 10Mbps up to GigE full duplex (with gigabit wireless).

Wireless Ethernet bridges, allow you to eliminate reoccurring costs of leasing fiber from telecommunication companies, eliminate the cost of additional head end equipment, and AES encryption hardware devices. Wireless Ethernet bridges preserve native IP throughout the system. Because you own the microwave link connection and not lease it, ROI is maximized with a low CPEX. You also gain the peace of mind of having control over your own infrastructure.

Take for example the cost to lease a DS3 (45Mbps) connection through a carrier. A typical scenario is that it costs roughly $4000.00 a month with a 3 to 5 year contract. Over three years that’s $144,000.00! Let’s not forget that it also typically takes 3 to 6 months to provision.

Now for comparison, let’s look at a point to point wireless Ethernet bridge using a licensed microwave radios. Although you can install a 50Mbps full duplex (100Mbps aggregate throughput) wireless bridge, most systems are typically purchased at 100Mbps full duplex (200Mbps aggregate throughput) because there just isn’t much cost differential between a 50Mbps and 100Mbps full duplex licensed microwave link. It’s typically the same radio system and just software throttled. Most licensed microwave radios are capable of 366Mbps full duplex (732Mbps aggregate throughput) and 60GHz and 80GHz millimeter wave is GigE full duplex.

A typical 100Mbps full duplex licensed microwave link, which can be installed in several days rather than 4 to 6 months like a DS3, would have a CAPEX of $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 depending on the frequency and distance. Say you add in a 5 year advanced replacement manufacture warranty and annual support from the integrator at a cost of $15,000.00. That’s roughly $45,000.00 compared to $144,000.00. That gives you an ROI of roughly 11 months. Plus you have over double the bandwidth!

Wireless ROI

As you compare higher bandwidths like leased 100Mbps or gigabit fiber the ROI is increased even further. Most GigE wireless backhauls have an ROI of 3 to 4 months. That’s it. No more reoccurring costs because you own it. If a wireless Ethernet bridge is properly engineered and the wireless installation is done by a professional wireless integrator a point to point wireless backhaul can provide greater security over leased lines and give 99.999% reliability (meaning <5min of predictable outage a year). Most telecommunication companies can only guaranty 99.9% on a SLA because they know they’ll have network outages throughout the year.

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

Wireless Backhaul Can Prevent Network Outages

Posted by Joe Wargo on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 @ 05:09 PM

Wireless backhaul in the form of point to point microwave - licensed microwave links or unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges, point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges, or wireless mesh network infrastructures can provide up to 99.999% reliability and keep you up and running when your telecommunications provider fails you.

Redundant Wireless backhaul Do you ever experience downtime on you network due to outages with your telecommunications provider, such as: AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast? What does a network outage cost you organization in dollars and man hours due to lack of productivity and internal communication or with clients? What do you say? This never happens? Think again!

You think you’re safe because you have a point to point fiber connection from your telecommunications vendor? Read my article “Outdoor Wireless Bridges or Fiber, Which Do You Trust.” What if you use an MPLS network, doesn’t that provide you failover redundancy? What about having different carriers for a backup connection? Or what about using cellular modems as a last result? Aren’t you protected by having redundancy? Not really!

The true fact is that the major telecommunications companies have outages all the time. December 11th, 2009 San Francisco experienced a several hour AT&T outage. July 21, 2010, AT&T Wireless had a regional outage for hours in NC. On April 9th, 2009 Santa Clara County, CA declared a local emergency when someone intentionally cut an underground fiber optic cable in South San Jose taking out cellular, internet, and phone usage to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint/Nextel customers. This affected multiple cities. A local hospital had to cancel surgeries due to the emergency. Recently, Union City, CA experienced a city wide outage when central office went dark. All voice, internet, MPLS, cellular, etc. was out for almost 10 hours.

So what happens when you have no cellular, internet, data, or voice connectivity?  For some organizations they have critical operations that have to be monitored so they have to be physically manned if the network goes down. What’s the cost to deploy people to remote sites or work overtime during the middle of the night? What about lost data? Some organizations can run into the millions of dollars an hour during a network outage.

Too often organizations fail to ensure their communications, both data and voice, are protected by not having appropriate redundancy or just flat out relying on a third party telecommunications vendor. Many times those who have a redundancy solution in place don’t have “True Redundancy.” Many overlook their WAN connections or have single point of failures in using the same medium (such as fiber), or taking the same external routes (out the same conduits from their MPOE), or have unknown points of failure by relying on third party telco providers’ networks. You can have MPLS but if you first connect through a local central office and that CO goes dark there is an issue. Even with backup power central office have gone dark (recently in Union City, CA) and fiber lines have been cut (San Jose, CA).

Licensed Microwave LinkWireless backhaul connectivity, both point to point wireless links and point to multipoint wireless bridges, provide an avenue for extremely reliable primary connections and for creating “True Redundant” network paths and connections. With both unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges or licensed microwave links, an organization can create a completely separate stand alone network and eliminate the dependency on third parties equipment and facilities, and remove the risk of failure of fiber cuts off site and out of an organizations control.

So why own your own wireless backhaul network? Wireless backhaul, with proper wireless path engineering, the use of the right outdoor wireless backhaul equipment, and proper wireless installation can provide truly reliable networks. See articles, “Is Wireless Reliable? - The 5 Misconceptions - Part 2” and “Outdoor Wireless Installation Done Properly.”

Wireless backhaul can have multiple advantages. Wireless networks can be used for primary or redundant links. Throughput can match or even exceed that of a leased line from a telco. You can get connectivity where you can’t get it from a telco for last mile solutions. Wireless backhaul typically has an extremely low ROI and can eliminate reoccurring lease line costs. Wireless installation can be done in days compared to months of provisioning time from a telco. Also with wireless backhaul you have complete control of your network. Even in the event of equipment failure wireless nodes can be restored quickly by simply hot swapping the radio communications equipment.

That’s right no more trouble tickets from some call center agent in another country!

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

Wireless Backhaul Communication Towers are a Great Investment

Posted by Joe Wargo on Sat, Aug 21, 2010 @ 03:49 PM

Wireless backhaul, also known as fixed wireless, technology has become a standard means of creating a data communications link between locations. Microwave radio links can be used to make data connections from building to building, to connect remote field locations to a network presence (also known as last mile wireless), connecting network fiber segments, and for connecting network devices (like IP video cameras, SCADA devices, client devices, phones, two-way radio / pagers, etc.) to networks.

Wireless backhaul can be in point to point wireless, point to multipoint wireless, or wireless mesh configurations. Wireless bridges can be licensed microwave links or unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges. A licensed microwave link or unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridge can provide throughput as low as 10Mbps up to GigE full duplex (with gigabit wireless). There are many wireless backhaul radio platforms offering a solution to just about any application. Wireless backhaul systems can provide 99.999% reliability. A Point to point wireless Ethernet bridge or licensed microwave link can enable high capacity wireless backhaul connections from less than one mile to more than 50 miles, without performance degradation. Licensed microwave links and unlicensed wireless Ethernet bridges enable carrier class delivery of IP services with full wire-speed performance. Typical latency on a wireless Ethernet bridge or licensed microwave link is under 1ms.

communication towerEven though there are some outdoor wireless radio systems that can do non-line-of-sight (“NLOS”), the majority of wireless backhaul requires line-of-sight (“LOS”) with proper Fresnel Zone clearance to properly operate. This means the transmitting and receiving antennas most be able to see one another with any obstructions. In most cases this requires mounting the antennas on a structure with adequate height to create LOS.

Many times when doing a point to point microwave link from one tall buildings roof top to another’s it can be easy to have LOS.
Sometimes this is not possible. Putting a antenna mast on a roof top can sometimes be sufficient. Other times it may become necessary to construct a communications tower. The first reactions that come to a client’s mind when a wireless installation vendor says a tower need to be built is no way. Several misconceptions arise. Towers are too expensive, unsightly, and are a huge construction project. Reality is that none of these are true.

Communication towers are relatively inexpensive to have installed. Leasing high speed bandwidth form a telco or installing dark fiber is extremely expensive. Point to point wireless backhaul or creating point to multipoint wireless Ethernet bridges for last mile connections have a rapid ROI (typically less than 6 months with no reoccurring costs). Adding a tower into the solutions may only add 3 to 4 months until the CAPEX achieves and ROI. Free standing towers from 40ft to 80ft in height can be installed from $15,000 to $35,000. That is not much money when you look at the big picture.

Build it and they will come! Communication towers are typically built for an initial solution but can offer great potential for future wireless backhaul projects. The tower may have been built to accommodate a point to point wireless bridge like a licensed microwave link between two locations. Now in place it may be used for other wireless Ethernet bridges or point to multipoint last mile wireless bridge connections. Odds are that if you needed to build a tower to gain some height in a geographical area other may need some height too. Leasing opportunities can come knocking on the door. Tower can create a great source of re-occurring revenue for an organization by leasing antenna space off to other parties that need a repeater location or leasing space to the mobile carriers, like At&t, Verizon, Sprint, Clearwire, etc. These opportunities can pay for the tower itself.

Roof top towerThe fact is that there are tower all around us and we just don’t even notice them. Microwave communication towers tend to blend into the skyline. So many times we hear about cosmetic concerns when it comes to mounting antennas on buildings but the fact remains that they are all around and no one ever notices them (unless you are in the wireless industry and pay attention to them). Many are less obtrusive that satellite TV dishes everyone mounts on their homes!

Microwave tower have been manufactured in ready to deploy configurations and even come with approved engineered design drawings making the permitting process simple. Communication towers used for wireless backhaul can typically be installed within a few days and offer a long term solid structure for mounting wireless backhaul antennas and equipment.

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