Microwave Sentinel Class 4 radiation patternYou’ve probably heard CommScope talk many times over about the importance of the quality and performance of microwave antennas and the detrimental effect that deployment of sub-standard antennas can have on a backhaul network. (As a refresher, check out a previous blog post of mine.)

We’re not the only ones talking. Sky Light Research is an analyst firm specializing in wireless point-to-point backhaul technologies. Their market share reports are used widely in the industry and regarded as one of the most dependable sources of unbiased information in the market.

In this Microwave Journal article from December 2013, Emmy Johnson, founder and principal analyst of Sky Light Research, takes an independent look at the issues of microwave antenna quality and performance. I encourage everyone to read Emmy’s article for a thorough analysis of the topic.

As one of our other bloggers has written, the ongoing demand for capacity in the wireless industry is being met by radios with higher modulation schemes; however, these schemes can make links more susceptible to interference. Spectrum is an expensive and sought after resource, and the more we can re-use this investment while providing high Quality of Service (QoS), the better for all concerned. This is precisely the reason we developed the Sentinel® microwave antenna solution.

What’s the point of engineers developing the best radios in the world, and then not getting the best out of them by attempting to save a few dollars on initial antenna CapEx? It has been shown that this initial cost-saving is actually insignificant compared to higher operating costs over the lifetime of the network because of poor antenna selection. Savings on tower lease costs, product costs, transportation/storage and spectrum along with opportunities for additional revenue through improved capacity and reduced network downtime are extremely interesting to us in the market.

One of the hot topics in the wireless industy is backhaul from small cells. The high link density in these urban networks takes frequency congestion to another level. With the service level expectations of consumers in these heavily populated areas every bit as high as they have been in previous macro cells, again, QoS must be maintained. We should ask ourselves if mobile operators are going risk the reputation of their networks by deploying lower performance products using unregulated technologies in these critical cells where data offloads and capacity demands are going to be huge. It seems many are reluctant to even consider this.

What do you think? Are you seeing similar issues in backhaul networks?

Reference: Johnson, Emmy. “Quality Counts: Backhaul driven performance through Antennas.” Microwave Journal. December 2, 2013. http://www.microwavejournal.com/articles/21139-quality-counts-backhaul-driven-performance-through-antennas 

About the Author

Jim Syme

Jim Syme is product line manager for CommScope’s Microwave Systems division, responsible for business development in the European region with additional global management responsibility for several major OEM customers. Jim began his 23-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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