A microwave radio system must provide high levels of capacity, availability and reliability. In recent years, there has been an influx of  low cost, low quality microwave antennas in the global market. These antennas are not only putting networks at risk through poor quality and performance, but are also damaging the good name of microwave transmission as a viable backhaul solution. It is vital that the poor ethics and short-sightedness of some of these low cost suppliers do not further this perception.

We all know from experience that microwave backhaul is a reliable form of data transmission. Experienced microwave antenna designers and manufacturers have spent many years building up the infrastructure and expertise so that any product released will consistently meet the published specifications and customer demands. Many of the new entrants simply do not have the infrastructure in place to offer this guarantee. It is important to understand the capabilities and resources of a manufacturer before deciding to invest in a microwave antenna.

Issues that we have witnessed include products being non-compliant straight from the box due to inconsistent production standards, lack of factory quality controls and untested or unstable designs. Another worrying observation is that a significant percentage of these antennas also seem to be deteriorating over time due to the use of low-quality raw materials and poorly engineered designs. Not only do these issues cause spectrum waste through interference but can also have severe repercussions in the event of a mechanical failure.

We are also now seeing the emergence of some companies offering third party add-ons for antennas such as couplers and ortho-mode transducers (OMTs). Poorly designed interfaces on these components can cause RF leakage, moisture ingress, corrosion and reduced structural integrity. All of these can cause a compliant antenna to fail to meet your system specifications. It is therefore recommended that your antenna manufacturer either designs and manufactures these components for you or, alternatively, is heavily involved in the design of any of these add-ons.

What other issues with low cost microwave antennas are you seeing in the field?

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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1 comment for "Low Cost Antennas Giving Microwave A Bad Reputation"

No its not low cost antena i think. Microwave still have same quality and bandwidth. Its what affecting is noise and distortion in air which is rising with pollution.

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