The Benefits of Class 4 Microwave Antennas

Andy Sutton, principal network architect at EE, writes today’s blog post about a new study of microwave antennas conducted with CommScope. Andy summarizes the technical and commercial benefits of using Class 4 Sentinel antennas in a real-world backhaul network. CommScope issues a full account of the study in the white paper “A new class of performance and profitability,” which is linked to from the blog post.

Sentinel-ETSI-Class-4(Note: The following has been submitted as a guest post to the CommScope Blog by Andy Sutton, principal network architect at EE. Opinions and comments provided in this guest post, as with all posts to the CommScope Blog, are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CommScope.)

As Principal Network Architect at EE, the UK's most advanced digital communications company, I am tasked with ensuring that the EE wireless network is utilizing best-in-class products, designs and systems for delivering the best quality of service to our subscribers. EE prides itself on its network, which is great for job satisfaction within the engineering teams. The company recognizes the importance of having a very reliable network to deliver a superior customer experience – now we’re looking at new ways to enhance the performance again, and set the bar even higher.

Part of my job involves evaluating the latest network technologies. Recently, CommScope and EE collaborated to study the impact of using ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) Class 4 microwave antennas in our backhaul network. I, along with the EE backhaul network designers, gladly helped CommScope and their colleagues at Comsearch get the necessary data and conduct the research.

Using Comsearch’s iQ.linkXG microwave planning software, CommScope analyzed the technical and commercial benefits of using Class 4 Sentinel antennas in the network. The results were most impressive. For the two frequency bands of the microwave backhaul network studied, which is comprised of over 6,200 links in total, the core findings were:

  • Potential savings of $5 million in total cost of ownership (TCO) over five years by enabling a greater link density and therefore reducing the need for third party Ethernet Leased Lines
  • Greater utilization of owned block allocated spectrum reduced the need for link by link licensing (from the national regulator) and therefore could save $44,000 in license fees over five years
  • $4.5 million could be saved per year based on optimizing capacity by freeing congested channels while still ensuring new links met the strict quality of service criteria
  • 96 percent and 31 percent of links which couldn’t be planned due to frequency congestion in 40 and 10 GHz could be assigned a channel, respectively
  • A strong opportunity to trade some of the above by reducing antenna size and thus reducing TCO on tower lease costs

We were delighted with the results of the study, which highlighted how we could continue to evolve our microwave radio backhaul network to carry increasing amounts of traffic as customers migrate from 3G to 4G services and consume greater volumes of high capacity multi-media content. It’s clear that a lot of spectral efficiency gains and cost savings are available by advancing to the next generation of microwave antennas.

To learn more about the Class 4 antenna study, access CommScope’s new white paper, A new class of performance and profitability, to delve into all the details. If you have questions, please leave a comment.