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Path Availability and path Reliability Concepts

Path availability is that percentage of time a given microwave link is operational (traffic
is not dropped or disconnected and performance measurements are possible) over a
specified period, typically a year. Path reliability, along with quality (RBER, E!",
etc.), define digital radio link performance during traffic availability periods. #he percent
availability or reliability, as used in microwave radio, is equal to $%% ($&').
& (ith the e)ception of high&frequency (*$% +,-) microwave links in rain areas,
the availability ob.ective of most microwave links is $%%.
& /ath reliability is a measure of annual short&term (0$% 1"E") one&way multipath
fade outage occurring over a 2&3.4 month fade season. /ath reliability can only be
predicted (measured) only during available (traffic connected) periods.
5vailability is sometimes incorrectly e)pressed as a term synonymous with path
reliability. 5 microwave link, however, becomes 6unavailable7 (failed) only after ten
consecutive outage seconds (*$% 1"E"), such as with a typical rain outage event,
whereas each second of multipath outage (up to ten continuous "E"s) degrades path
reliability. 8n a digital system, message (9! or data) traffic is lost or disconnected only
with long&term unavailability events, not short&term "E" outage events. !or a non&
diversity path, the probability of short&term outage during the fade season is :$%;<
Performance and Availability Objectives (North American Objectives)
#he recommended short&term one&way outage ob.ective for a #$=E$ trunk or !>?
circuit, regardless of system length, is $@%% outage seconds per year ("E"=yr), for a
AA.AA4 end&to&end propagation reliability. #his is as equally true of a 4&hop short&haul
system as a $4%&hop long&haul system, e)cept that in a very long&haul (perhaps *4% hop)
system, only half are considered as fading hops. 5 AA.AAA per&hop reliability (B2%
"E"=yr outage) ob.ective (floor) is often assigned in spur links and on short systems of
less than about 4 tandem hops.
#he long&term rain outage in a high frequency (*$% +,-) microwave link is often
engineered to this same AA.AA4 ob.ective & now an annual two&way rain availability, not
a one&way multipath reliability, ob.ective. #his corresponds to the 8#'&R per&hop
availability ob.ective since the @%&hop 24%% km 8#'&R reference circuit end&to&end two&
way availability ob.ective of AA.C :$; scales to a AA.AA4 availability ob.ective for a
typical 3% km link.
Performance and Availability Objectives< (+D2$< 8#'&#)
Performance Objectives:
#he performance ob.ectives are separated from availability ob.ectives. #he system is
considered unavailable when the BER is higher than $%&B for $% consecutive seconds or
more. #his period of time should be e)cluded when the performance of the system is
#he performance ob.ectives for the real digital links are divided into separate grades.
#hose are 6high grade7, 6medium grade7 and 6local grade7. #he allocation to the high&
grade ob.ective is considered to be proportional with distance between 24%% km and 2D%
km, while medium grade and local grade are considered block allowances. #he
5dministration in the country concerned should decide which grade to be used for
planning ob.ectives.
,RE the ,ypothetical Reference 1onnection as defined by 8#'&# is a model for long
international connection, 2C4%% km. 8t does not represent the worst case but is supposed
to include the ma.ority of real situation. #he ,RE includes transmission system,
multiple)ing equipment and switching. ,e performance ob.ectives for the ,RE are
described in 8#'&# Rec +.D2$ as follows<
"E"< BER should not e)ceed $%&B for more than .2 of one Fsecond intervals an nay
>?< BER should not e)ceed $%&@ for more than $% of one&minute intervals in any
E"< Gess than D of one&second intervals should have errors.
#he total allocation of .2 is divided as follows<
%,$ is divided between the three classifications
Classification Objectives
,igh +rade %.%3
?edium +rade %.%$4 block allowance to each end
Gocal +rade %.%$4 block allowance to each end
#he total is then %.%3 H 2 ) %.%$4 H 2 ) %.%$4 I %.$ (see the figure of ,RE)
#he remaining %.$ is a block allowance to the high grade and the medium grade
portions. #his is %.%4 to each of a 24%% km ,R>/. (,R>/) for high&grade digital radio
relay system is 24%% km and does not include the equipment.
#he allocations of the $% to the three classifications are shown in 8#'&# Rec + D2$,
5nne) 1 :2;.
High rade !edi"m rade #ocal rade
3.% 2 ) $.4 2 E $.4

#he allocations of the D to the three classifications are as shown in 8#'&# rec + D2$,
5nne) :2;.
High rade !edi"m rade #ocal rade
B.2 2 ) $.2 2 ) $.2
Availability Objectives
8#'&# has not established any availability ob.ectives for an ,RE. #he availability
ob.ectives for ,R>/ can be found in 8#'&# Rec.44C. ( ,ypothetical Reference >igital
/ath, ,R>/ is mainly for the radio relay system. #he ,R>/ for the high grade digital
radio relay systems is 24%% km and does not include the switching equipment.)
5n ,R>/ is defined unavailable when one or both of the following conditions occur for
more than $% consecutive seconds.
& #he digital signal is interrupted
& #he BER in each second is worse than $%&B.
#he unavailability ob.ectives shall be divided into one portion for equipment effects and
one portion for propagation effects. #he si-e of the two portions is more or less up to the
different link planner, but a number of planners are using B% &4% due to rain outage.
#he availability ob.ective for a 24%% km ,R>/ should e be AA.C of the time, the
percentage being considered over a sufficiently long time. #he period is probably for
more than one year, but is under study. #he unavailability ob.ective is then %.B .
Circ"it Classifications
#he ob.ectives for the different circuit classifications are presented as performance and
availability ob.ectives for 6,igh grade7, 6medium grade7 and 2Gocal grade7 circuits.
High rade Circ"its:
#he %.%4 for "E" is scaled down to %.%%3 for a 24%% km ,R>/. 8n addition there
was given an allowance of %.%4 for the ,R>/ to take care of adverse propagation

"ay we have a 4D.@4 km long path. Based on the ,igh +rade 1ircuit. !ind out the link
performance ("E") based on 8#' Rec + D2@<
"E" I G=24%% ) .%43
"ubstitute the scaled down distance , therefore, we get
"E" I 4D.@4=24%% ) .%43 I .%%$2@C or BB seconds in the worst month.
( B@4)23)B@%%=$%%).%%$2@C=$2)
!edi"m rade Circ"it
?edium grade ob.ectives are supposed to be used for national networks, normally
between the local e)change and the international switching center. ,owever, this depends
very much on the si-e of the country and the si-e of the network in the country$
5ccording to 8#'&# Rec +D2$ the local grade and the medium grade portions are
permitted to cover up the first $24% km of the circuit from the #&reference point
e)tending into the network. "ince, the length of the local grade portion is usually
negligible, the ma)imum length of the medium grade portion is appro)imately $24% km.
#he medium grade portion has four quality classifications. 1lass $ corresponds to high
grade classification but can also be used for medium grade classification. #he other three
apply to medium grade only. #he medium grade ob.ectives for a total medium grade
portion at each end of an ,RE can be found in 8#'&R Rec @A@. 1omments are found in
8#'&R report $%42.
!or "E" the ob.ective was %.%$4 with an additional allowance of %.%4 . #hat is %.%24
for each side. #he total is %.%3
#he ob.ectives are<
BER not to e)ceed $%&B for more than %.%3 of any month with integration time of $ s.
BER not to e)cdeed $%&@ for more than $.4 of any month with an integration time of $
#he total E" should not e)ceed $.B of any month.
!or an ,R>" the 8#'&R Rec&@A@ has made a table for the different classifications and
ob.ectives$ #hese figures shall be used for lengths less than these distances.
Objectives based on $%&' and $%&(
#he 8#'&# recommendation + D2@ specifies error performance parameters and ob.ectives
for international digital paths at or above the primary rate. #hese paths may be based on
/>,, ">, or some other transport network. !uture radio relay systems, which will form
part of these paths, have to comply with these recommendation. +enerally .D2@ specifies
more stringent performance ob.ectives than +.D2$ does.
#he 8#'&# recommendation +.D2C specifies availability parameters and ob.ectives for
international digital path at or above the primary rate. #he $AA@ version of this
recommendation specifies no availability figures, only definitions. 5ll parameters are still
under study.
)pecial Notes
8n considering the assignment of a realistic short& or long&term outage ob.ective, several
things need to be kept in mind. 5 single overall design ob.ective of not more than E
hours, minutes, or seconds outage over some period such as a year is an over&
simplification. #he character of the particular kind of outage and its effect on the system
should be taken into account, and perhaps there should even be different ob.ectives for
different types of outage.
*ffects of #ong and )hort term O"tages
!or e)ample, propagation outages due to multipath fading are usually short. 5
cumulative outage of an hour per year due to multipath might represent $%%%s of
individual outages, each averaging $ second or less ($ "E") on a properly engineered
path. Jn the other hand, propagation outages totaling an hour per hop due to rain
attenuation might consist of only four or five individual outages averaging ten to fifteen
minutes each. #he effects of long&term and short&term system outage on trunks are very
different. #he many short&term 6unreliability7 outage events do not disconnect circuits
nor reduce (in most circuits) data throughout. #he few long&term 6unavailability7 events
cause both traffic disconnect and loss of data throughput.
5 distinction should be made between those circuits for which an outage of a few seconds
or a few minutes is .ust an inconvenience, and those circuits for which such an outage
might result in a danger to life, great economic loss, or other catastrophic consequence.
#he suitability or unsuitability of a higher frequency band such as $D or BD +,- in a high
rain rate region could differ widely for these two situations.
Even if the ma)imum possible reliability and availability ob.ectives are established and a
path or a system is engineered to the full limit of the state of the art, the probability of
outage can never be eliminated but only reduced to a very low value. #hus it is
imperative to make any ultra&important services as fail&safe as possible against a loss of
the communications channel. #herefore, the system should be engineered with
appropriate protection schemes and diversity arrangements so that short& or long&term
outages are tolerated or at least kept within acceptable bounds. Ring (6route diversity7)
protection is often used to eliminate long&term rain outage, for e)ample.
8t seems that in some cases, perhaps many cases, a more rela)ed attitude might be taken
toward rain&induced outages than toward multipath outages or even equipment outages.
8n several respects, rain outage is somewhat benign in nature. 8f the fade margins are
kept high and the paths are not stretched out too much, even in less advantageous areas
the number of outages per year should not be very large and the length of individual rain
outages on a hop should only rarely e)ceed five to perhaps ten minutes.
"hort (less than 2&second) microwave outages, common on a typical longer diversity or a
shorter non&diversity digital microwave link with adequate fade margin, will not drop
telephone or data lines. "uch outages quickly clear with all circuits remaining connected
and little note taken of these transient events. 1ritical real&time, non&repeatable control
or data blocks are usually sent over data circuits that have E.24, E.B4, etc. error detection
at the receiver which requests a resend of interrupted data from far&end buffers. Gonger
outages associated with low fade margins, rain, etc. disconnect all subscribers and may
block access to a digital link for at least $% seconds after each long&term outage event.
"uch traffic disconnects are unacceptable to most usersK thus these more vulnerable links
clearly require appropriate diversity or ring protection.
!or high reliability links (usually in long&haul systems with a many hops in tandem), the
per&hop ob.ective may be approach or e)ceed AA.AAAA, allowing only 2%&B% seconds of
per&hop outage per year. "hort&haul systems up to about ten hops are often assigned a
per&hop design ob.ective of about AA.AAA4 for $@% "E"=yr outage. "pur legs or short
systems with $&4 hops may be assigned a rela)ed AA.AAA per&hop path reliability
ob.ective equating to B2% "E" (4.B minutes) outage per year. "uch ob.ectives are typical
of those used in telephone, utility, and public safety networks. !or other services even
dramatically lowered path reliabilities may be acceptable, perhaps approaching AA.AA
or about $hour outage per year.
Rain Jutage
,eavy rainfall, usually in cells accompanying thunderstorm activity and weather fronts,
has a great impact on path availability above $% +,- in some areas, and this long&term
(4&$4 min) outage time causes traffic disconnects. "uch long&term outage is never added
to short&term multipath outage previously discussed. Rain outage increases dramatically
with frequency, and then with path length.
Early studies, both theoretical and e)perimental, resulted from the recognition of the
importance of rain in designing microwave paths with availability ob.ective in e)cess of
AA.A. 8n recent years the emphasis has been on establishing predictive techniques for
the statistical estimation of the attenuation probability distribution for a particular path.
R. L. 1rane has developed a model for determining the attenuation due to rain based on
several factors, including path length, frequency, and point rain rates.
Rain 5ttenuation Jverview
Rain attenuation at the higher microwave frequencies has (*$% +,-) been under study
for more than 3% years. ?uch is known about the qualitative aspects, but the problems
faced by the microwave transmission engineer & who makes quantitative estimates of the
probability distribution of the rainfall attenuation for a given frequency band,
polari-ation, path length, and geographic (rain distribution rate) area & remains more
8n order to estimate this probability distribution, instantaneous rainfall data is needed.
'nfortunately, the available rainfall data is usually in the form of a statistical description
of the amount of rain which falls at a given measurement point over various time periods
& generally at least an hour in length.
#he rain&induced attenuation along a given path at a given instant in time is a function of
the integrated effect of the rainfall e)isting at all points along the path, and is affected not
only by the total amount of water in the path at that instant, but also by its distribution
along the path in volume and drop si-e. !or heavy rain rates, the instantaneous
distribution of volume and drop si-e along the path is highly variable and is difficult to
predict with any sort of accuracy from the kind of rainfall data generally available.
Jne of the earliest and most comprehensive attempts at developing a workable prediction
method was carried out by Bell Gaboratories in the $A4%s, described in a classic paper by
,athaway and Evans ($A4D). 5 method of predicting annual outages for microwave
paths operating in the $$ +,- common carrier band as a function of path length, fade
margin, and geographical area within Morth 5merica was developed in this paper.
#his study has proved to be a worthwhile prediction tool and, even considering its
limitations, is still one of the best references available for microwave engineers working
within the 'nited "tates. 5dditional studies have been conducted in Europe and 5sia.
#he combined information has been reviewed and published by R. L. 1rane :D; for Morth
5merican paths and internationally in the 8#'&R Recommendations :4;
8ncreasing the fade margins, shortening path lengths, and increasing antenna si-es are the
most readily available tools for reducing the per&hop annual rain outage in a given area.
Route diversity (ring protection) or a lower, less vulnerable frequency band (perhaps $%
+,-, in digital systems) is often considered to reduce or essentially eliminate the impact
of rain outage on system availability.
Even the rain statistics for a day or an hour have little relationship to rain attenuation. 5
day with only a fraction of an inch=centimeter of total rainfall may have a path outage due
to a short period of concentrated, e)tremely high intensity rain, while another day with
several inches=centimeters of total rainfall may e)perience little or no path attenuation
because the rain is spread over a long time period or area.
#he most common reason a preference for lower frequencies is the susceptibility of bands
above $% +,- to rainfall attenuation. 5lthough the effect is present to some degree at
lower frequencies, it increases rapidly with frequency. !or e)ample, a raincell intensity
causing only a few dB of attenuation at lower frequencies could be sufficient to cause a
path outage at $D +,-.
5lthough fades caused by raincells are occasionally observed at lower frequencies ($%&2%
dB fades at @ +,- have been recorded even in Morth 5merica), this type of fade
generally causes outages only on paths above $% +,-. #he outages are usually caused by
blockage of the path by the passage of raincells (thunderstorms, etc.), perhaps 3&D
km=2.4&4 mi in diameter and 4&$4 minutes in duration on the path. "uch fading e)hibits
fairly slow, erratic level changes, with rapid path failure as the raincell intercepts the
path. #he fades are nonselective in that all main and diversity paths in both directions are
affected simultaneously.
9ertical polari-ation is far less susceptible to rainfall attenuation than hori-ontal polari-ed
frequencies. 8ncreased fade margin is of some help in rainfall attenuation fadingK margins
as high as 34 to @% dB, some with 5#/1, have been used in some highly vulnerable links
for increased availability. (hen permitted, seldom&used crossband diversity is totally
effective & the lower frequency path is stable (affected only by multipath fading) during
periods when the upper frequency path is obstructed by raincells. Route diversity (ring&
protected paths separated by more than about D km=4mi) is also used successfully.
8n summary, things to bear in mind in connection with rain attenuation fades are<
N ?ultipath fading is at its minimum during periods of heavy rainfall with well
aligned dishes, so the entire path fade margin is available to combat the rain
attenuation (wet&radome loss effects are minimi-ed with shrouded antennas).
N Meither space diversity nor in&band frequency diversity provide improvement
against rain attenuation fade outage.
N 9ertically&polari-ed high&frequency link rain outage is 3%&@% less than those
links hori-ontally polari-ed.