Terrestrial Microwave Links

Microwave links are a well established technology with roots going all the way back to experiments by AT&T™ in the 1930's. They are a reliable and inexpensive way to move large amounts of data across the street or across the state.

ISM Unlicensed S and C band links

Wired ethernet data rates can be achieved across a few hundred feet or up to a few tens of miles with the right equipment when it is properly installed. The FCC has set aside a part of the microwave S (2GHz) and C (5GHz) bands for "industrial, scientific, and medical" or ISM use. The most common publicly recognizable service using these bands is 802.11 wireless ethernet, commonly known as WiFi. What makes 802.11 an attractive alternative to wired services is that a license isn't required. However, unlicensed does not mean unregulated. Network engineers with only a cursory understanding of RF theory have installed microwave links with little planning and at best, have been disappointed by low performance, or at worst, been fined by the FCC for causing interference with a licensed service.

We use our extensive knowledge of radio and some specialized equipment to find a site for your antenna with low interference from adjacent stations or select an antenna with a higher front-to-back ratio to ensure a good signal-to-noise ratio. We then create a link budget to determine how much gain the antennas at each end of the link need, and the lowest possible RF power and narrowest channel needed to achieve the desired data rate.

Using inexpensive equipment with integrated antennas, we can achieve data rates of up to a hundred megabits per second over a considerable distance, with a budget of only a few hundred dollars. With more expensive and sophisticated equipment such as the Mikrotik™ NetMetal 5 802.11ac modem and Laird™ HDDA5W 1 meter dish, which features a front-to-back ratio of 38dB, 32dBi of gain at 5.5 GHz and a beamwidth of 4°, or the Andrew™ PX4F-52-N7A/A 4' dish featuring a 58dB front-to-back ratio, 35dBi of gain and a 3° beamwidth, given a clear line of sight, raw data rates close to gigabit ethernet are achievable over distances up to 30 miles using very little RF power. A properly installed system enables a small carrier or business to maintain true enterprise level connectivity.

Equipment estimates*

Laird HDDA5W-32 1M 32 dBi Dual Polarized C-Band Dish Antenna, w/N-female
Andrew PX4F-52-N7A/A 4' 35dBi Dual Polarized C-Band Dish Antenna w/N-female
Mikrotik NetMetal 5 802.11ac modem w/RP-SMA
Mikrotik QRT 5 Integrated Antenna/Modem
Mimosa Networks 1Gb/S Modem w/N-female
Andrew CNT-400 N-male/N-male jumper, 3'

Licensed C and Ku Band WiMAx and TDM Links

Andrew Sentinel Dual Band AntennaFCC Part 101 links are most commonly used by cell carriers and ISPs for backhaul of bulk data from sites without a connection to the SONET backbone to a location that does, but they can also be used for remote telemetry and automation of equipment such as substations and compressor stations in the electric and gas industry, as well as specialty communications systems like trunking radio systems, for relocating received data from one location to another, and studio-to-transmitter links in the broadcast industry.

We have experience installing a variety of microwave antennas from Andrew™, including their Value Line, low performance Parabolic for Relocation, and the Sentinel high performance line. Our capabilities include installing elliptical and flex-twist waveguide and their associated pressurizer/dessicator systems, installing antennas up to 6' in diameter and up to 240 pounds - anything larger will require additional equipment rental fees.

900 MHz Studio to Transmitter LinkWe can set you up with a true carrier grade link with guaranteed performance in the gigabit range, in either the C or Ku bands. Andrew manufactures a line of dual-band, dual-polarization antennas that when paired with four high speed radios such as the Cambium PtP 810i can provide over 2 gigabits per second from a single antenna.

We can replace obsolete radios and modems with newer models from Cambium Networks and Dragon Wave capable of IP and higher throughput through your existing antennas.

We have experience installing indoor radios, where the modem and radio power amplifier are located inside the equipment shelter and the signal is fed to the antenna through a long run of waveguide, split systems where the modem is located inside the equipment shelter and connected via coax to a power amplifier connected directly to the back of the antenna, as well as all-outdoor systems, where the run to the antenna is fiber and the modem and power amplifier are built-in to the same device and mounted at the antenna. Indoor systems are more expensive initially, but have lower maintenance costs than fiber-to-the-antenna, which require a tower climb to replace modem and radio components.

*Equipment prices are speculative at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice.

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