Wasted Backhaul Spectrum—What All Operators Need To Know!

Posted by Brian Eichenser on January 14, 2011


Operators around the globe are unknowingly wasting valuable microwave spectrum with backhaul networks that are not deployed as efficiently as they could be.

In a recent study of a real network with over 10,000 microwave links, engineers from CommScope’s Andrew Solutions and Comsearch found that 29 percent of backhaul links at 18GHz would fail if low quality microwave antennas were used throughout the network. Results at 15 and 23 GHz were similar and typically around a 20 percent failure rate. These failures mean that the operator would have to use more spectrum and/or larger antennas to compensate for the shortcomings of the low quality antennas.

This is a major waste of a precious resource!

Good optimization techniques with high quality microwave equipment and a high quality planning tool can help decrease such failures significantly, resulting in less spectrum usage and the ability to deploy smaller, lower cost antennas on towers that will have less tower loading. This can significantly reduce an operator’s CapEx and OpEx by lowering site tariffs and spectrum fees. The use of smaller antennas also reduces the cost of shipping and storing infrastructure.

One reality that many backhaul providers are currently struggling to respond to is the fact that low cost antennas, which might have saved money up front, need to stay compliant to regulations over time. Our benchmarking analysis shows that antennas from a variety of low cost manufacturers degrade significantly with time. This means the performance a network operator thought it had is no longer there.

Operators need to be wary of the “penny pinching” techniques of implementing cheaper or substandard antenna equipment. What is cheaper today can be far more costly in the future.

CommScope’s Andrew Solutions and Comsearch offer high quality solutions for the two most important contributors to efficient use of the microwave spectrum – antenna systems and planning software.

The bottom line is that when it comes to microwave backhaul networks, no one should be cutting corners in these very important areas.


About the Author

Brian Eichenser

Brian Eichenser is the director of software products at Comsearch. With over 20 years of experience in the field of spectrum management, spectrum sharing and fixed network planning, Brian is responsible for the development direction of Comsearch software products, including iQ.link and iQ.clearXG, which are offered globally. Comsearch has been providing innovative spectrum management and wireless engineering solutions to the global market for fixed, mobile, and broadband wireless applications for over 30 years.