The Changing Face of Microwave

Donald-Gardner-10-20-14--thumb Donald Gardner January 3, 2018

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.

CLICK TO TWEET: The Changing Face of Microwave

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.

About the Author


Donald Gardner

Donald Gardner is new product development manager within the Microwave Antenna Systems team at CommScope and is based in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Holding a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Strathclyde and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Edinburgh, he has been involved in the wireless communications industry for over 30 years. Prior to his current position, Gardner held various positions in quality, engineering and product management within our microwave antenna group. His key expertise includes mechanical and process engineering of microwave antennas and product management of microwave backhaul solutions.