The Changing Face of Microwave

It’s the time of year for predictions. Donald Gardner reminds us that some predictions seem bizarre in hindsight. Like how the telephone will never take off. Donald discusses a change that really will be coming in microwave antenna systems in 2018 and links to a related reference eBook.

Microwave ebook compI’m always amazed looking back through history how many attempts to predict the future look slightly bizarre with hindsight. There’s the well-known, if slightly apocryphal story of a new-fangled invention called the telephone never taking off because there would not be enough servants to answer them.

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Modern telecoms are no different. I recall as a young engineer seeing a note predicting that the market for small antennas (at that time 4 foot was considered small) would never amount to more than a few hundred a year. Now, annual volumes are measured in the hundreds of thousands.

This innate conservatism is not unusual nor surprising – particularly when it comes to outdoor microwave systems that must withstand incredibly hostile environments. The costs in terms of lost revenue if the links fail dwarf the initial purchase and installation costs. It’s hardly surprising that the industry prefers tried and tested solutions.

This doesn’t mean that change doesn’t happen – it does. Take how the original, basic unshielded microwave antenna evolved into a shielded antenna to improve performance. Further developments improved radiation pattern envelopes and cross polar performance. Antennas have become smaller and operating frequencies increased until we have antennas operating up to 80 GHz and beyond.

But what about the large microwave antennas? All the recent innovation has been in small antennas. Large antennas have remained pretty much constant for many years, however they too will change as the technologies driving innovation in small antennas migrate to the larger sizes. We’ll be sharing more information about those changes in future blogs coming soon. In the meantime, you can get a refresher about the components, systems and practices that go into an efficient, reliable microwave communications network in the Microwave Communication Basics eBook.

Stay tuned for more information about large microwave antennas, and I’d love to hear any feedback about the eBook.