Latest Technology Announcement
Radio manufacturers have recently developed MBL (Multi-band links). This is a game-changer for the industry and something to be excited about as it allows 2 frequencies to be transmitted through a single antenna. The higher the frequency used, the more bandwidth available – however the downside to this under previous scenarios would be they suffer attenuation in poor weather conditions so are restricted on distance to prevent packet loss. By being able to choose a higher frequency, 80GHz for example, we could potentially provide 20Gbps over the link and by supporting this frequency deployment with 5GHz for example, which is extremely robust in the worst conditions, the radio is able to respond automatically to keep the link and bandwidth topped up without any impact on the customer. It is like having an SD-WAN box with 2 different fibre providers going into your network, however better still, this is able to augment the traffic between the 2 separate frequencies.
Myth or Fact?
Microwave is faster than Fibre?
Well, actually yes it is. Both microwave and fibre are forms of electromagnetic radiation, which in the vacuum of space, travel at the speed of light. However, fibre is slowed down (latency) due to reflections and refractions from point A to B within the cable, as well as often taking a much longer distance route. This is one of the reasons microwave has been used by the trading industry to provide real-time data.
Microwave fails every time it rains?
No. Microwave circuits should be designed with enough fade margin to account for loss even in the heaviest rain conditions. If they are suffering in poor weather, this will be down to incorrect planning, frequency use, distance, or insufficient fade margin. These circuits are also even more resilient as a result of the latest technology advances. All of our circuits come with a high SLA to ensure the customer is protected with the service they are provided with.
Microwave is quicker to install than fibre?
There are variable factors to both, but typically yes. Microwave can be extremely quick to deploy using frequencies that are unlicensed, such as the commonly used 5GHz and 80GHz frequencies. Other frequencies can add around 6 weeks (UK) to obtain a license from Ofcom, the governing body that process the application. The advantage of the new Multi-Band technology is that it can enable installation prior to the license being issued by running an unlicensed frequency until the license completion date. This would alleviate the 6 week waiting period (UK current average) and enable the ISP to remotely access the radio and apply the new frequency on the equipment that’s already installed.
Microwave would be a dead technology if fibre was deployed to every building?
No, it is becoming increasingly more prevalent, especially for businesses that require diverse connections, or companies that operate critical 24×7 services. From time to time all providers sustain hardware or core network-related incidents, however, if you have a fibre and a microwave circuit, you have true diversity and should be protected from this. With the latest technological advances in the industry, we will shortly see combined bandwidth availability with reliability many would not have thought possible a year ago.
Microwave is more expensive than fibre?
This again is variable. What we tend to encounter is slightly higher monthly costs with cheaper or free installation costs with microwave, dependent on the contract term. Fibre can provide some astronomical installation quotes but lower reoccurring charges – both can vary greatly dependant on local circumstances surrounding the site. To give you an understanding of this, microwave providers have to pay to house radios on towers/buildings/Data Centre’s, and if they drop traffic into a fibre provider they have to pay for the use of that fibre too which can add to the cost. However, microwave can also provide circuits in locations that would be impossible or cost-prohibitive for fibre to reach.
What does the future hold?
A great deal for this industry. With improvements being made by manufacturers, governing bodies and ISP’s delivering critical services to businesses, there is a lot to be excited about. There is a discussion on further increasing the frequency ranges above 100GHz. Supported with improved modulation rates, diversity in hardware and frequency – at some point in the near future we will be shocked at the services and speeds available, dare I say potentially outpacing fibre.