We’ve all heard lots of talk about how the world’s climate is changing, evolving and impacting people’s every day lives.  The different effects are being seen in various regions of the planet - hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, etc. We invariably hear this news as individuals worried about the impact on our planet………but do we also think about it in our role as telecommunications specialists?

Consider microwave antennas, a critical component for wireless backhaul and point-to-point networks.

A common feature of storms like the tornadoes of the American Midwest, hurricanes of the North Atlantic and typhoons in the Pacific is that the mean wind speed experienced is often above the survival wind speed of a standard microwave antenna. Mid-latitude cyclones present a different problem altogether where the mean wind speed may be below the antenna design criteria but, in extreme cases, may have gusts well in excess of this. In situations like this, a high-windload product such as CommScope’s ExtremeLineTM antennas should almost certainly be deployed.

In my professional day-to-day experiences, I’ve recently noticed situations arise where it’s time for an antenna to be replaced or a similar antenna to be installed on the same tower with the initial temptation being to replace or install “like for like” microwave antennas.  In digging deeper, it’s subsequently been discovered that the wind speeds experienced in these locations have changed so much in the past 15-20 years since the original antenna was installed that a standard product is no longer suitable and a high-windload antenna is now needed.

The lesson to be learned is don’t take anything for granted.  Weather patterns change and may require a change in your network equipment. Re-assess any site where you have installed a standard microwave antenna before making a final product selection. Take all things into consideration. For example:

  • The time has arrived to make a decision whether to purchase a standard microwave antenna vs. a high-wind antenna.  The environmental and geographical data available for the site shows that it’s marginal whether a standard antenna is up to the job or whether something stronger is needed. But cost becomes the decision maker and the lower-priced standard antenna is then purchased.  At the time, the decision to purchase the standard antenna seemed financially the right thing to do, but consider this—a year has passed, weather conditions/climates have changed, it’s time again to reconsider the need to replace or upgrade to high-wind products.  Was the original decision the right one?

  • In some regions of the world, ever-strengthening winds have a devastating affect on low-quality standard microwave antennas. Unethical antenna suppliers may offer low-price, low-quality standard microwave antennas where the extreme environment conditions destroy these products.  The end-result is a catastrophic failure…..we can leave the result to your imagination but we all know that signal drop-outs may be the least of your worries. Is purchasing the low-price, low-quality antenna the right decision, when you consider the consequences described?

From a mechanical perspective, several factors should be considered when selecting the right microwave antenna:



  • Geographic location of installation (i.e. marine or corrosive environment)

  • Topographical variations in the area of the site

  • Extreme height of installation

  • Possibility of high wind gusts in the vicinity

As part of the world’s population, we all have a role to play in protecting our planet’s environment. Equally, as telecommunications professionals, we have a duty to ensure that the right product is offered and selected for the environment in which it is installed. Don’t gamble with your network availability!


Is your network prepared?

About the Author

Jim Syme

Jim Syme is product line manager for CommScope’s Microwave Systems division, responsible for business development in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions with additional global management responsibility for several major OEM customers. Jim began his 27-year career with Andrew Corporation in the microwave antenna design engineering group and is a regular participant at conferences on all matters related to microwave antenna systems. Prior to joining Andrew Corporation, Jim was a design engineer for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

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