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Today’s local area networks (LANs) are expanding at an incredible rate. Numbers of users on a network have grown from 20-30 to as many as 100-200 in the past decade. As the growth increases, so does the demand for better network efficiency and throughput. In response to the demand, many network vendors have placed products on the market to provide the demanded speed and efficiency. We are now observing products offering various means of handling LAN traffic, such as full duplex ethemet switches, to higher speed network devices such as the newer 100 Mbps components. This kind of growth in network use actually supports the migration to higher bandwidth solutions. As the growth of network users increases, so does the need for interconnecting geographically separate sites. Until recently, most remote site interconnections were addressed with relatively slow speed solutions. Most solutions came in the form of dedicated leased lines from the local telephone company. The data rates through these circuits typically ran at 56 Kbps to 1,544 Mbps and were ( and still are) rather expensive considering their monthly charges and initial equipment costs. Today’s remote site interconnections can be considered as an extended LAN and as such requires higher bandwidth (as much as 10 Mbps, the native Ethemet LAN speed) solutions to handle the immense traffic transported between separate locations. There are a growing number of solutions to interconnect remote sites such as fiber optic cabling, spread spectrum radios, laser, and
microwave. All have their advantages and disadvantages.
Of the many solutions available to connect remote sites, microwave can be considered for most applications. Microwave systems can connect remote distances up to 20 miles or more, but most applications fall under 4 miles. Microwave provides a solution that offers full bandwidth LAN connectivity (native ethemet speeds of 10 Mbps), high reliability, and reasonable payback periods from six months to 2 years when compared with traditional wired solutions. Microwave links are absolutely transparent, acting as an extension of the Ethemet backbone or segment. Because it is fully compatible with the IEEE 802.3 Ethemet standard, microwave supports all Ethemet functionality and applications. WHAT IS MICROWAVE? The word microwave is derived from the Greek word micro which means “very small”. The radio waves used in short haul microwave transmission are indeed very small and range in size from approximately 1/2 to 2/3 inches in length. In contrast, sound waves are long. The wavelength of a soprano (18,000 Hz) is almost 10 miles long. Microwave communications is based on the transmission of a microwave radio signal through the atmosphere. Although it has gained much current interest, microwave technology is not new. The first microwave communication systems were developed in the 1930’s. Thanks to a spurt of wartime development, by the 1960’smicrowave radio was caving 40% of the telephone circuits
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wavelength. GHZ. THE NATURE OF MICROWAVES To understand microwave communications. waves can travel long distances and bounce around and over objects. as the frequency increases. Just as the rubber skin of a balloon becomes thinner as it expands. or glass windows can reflect the signal causing distortion and attenuation by canceling out the intended signal. the frequency most commonly used for short haul microwave LAN is 23 GHz. building walls. and frequency of the wave are related by the formula c = hf where: c = speed of light (3 X 10 * 8 meters/second) h = wavelength (in meters) f = frequency (in cycles per second of Hertz) The frequency and wavelength of electromagnetic waves are inversely proportional to each other. But this is not the only loss the signal will encounter. and buildings. part of the signal will be diffracted away from the receiver. In general. Although microwaves travel in a straight line. Microwaves. A wave spreading out from its source expands into three dimensions like a balloon being blown up. the shorter the maximum transmission distance. AM radio has a frequency in the 1 MHz range. the lesser the FCC operating restrictions. Within the range of microwave frequencies. Refraction Variation in air density along the path will refract part of the signal away from the receiver. streets. digital microwave carries a large portion of the long distance traffic in the United States. TV has a frequency in the 10 MHz range. hills. the higher the frequency. Microwave signals can also be attenuated by atmospheric and terrain conditions which may cause: Diffraction . a microwave signal spreads out until its initial power is dispersed so thinly it can no longer be detected. The frequency range defined as microwave is from 1 GHz to 100 PROPAGATION How a microwave signal gets from one point to another is called propagation. All electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light and have a characteristic wavelength and frequency. an unobstructed path commonly known as line-of-sight. it is not a pencil-thin line. and FM radio has a frequency in the 100 MHz range. a microwave signal expands and becomes weaker as it travels away from the transmitter. The velocity. - 126 .If the signal is blocked or partially blocked by physical obstructions such as trees. buildings. This loss of signal power as the microwave signal travels is known as free space loss. it is necessary to understand the nature of electromagnetic waves. hills. short haul microwave systems need.between major cities which until then had been carried by copper wire. The degree of the refraction vanes with atmospheric conditions. In other words. Some of the more familiar forms of electromagnetic waves are television and radio signals. Today. or water towers. the wavelength decreases. on the other hand. Reflection . Like all waves. the simpler and less expensive the equipment needed. For this reason.Smooth surfaces such a s lakes. Frequencies below 18 GHz are predominantly used for long haul communications and frequencies above 40 GHz are reserved for military radar applications and some limited commercial applications. The propagation characteristics of waves are a function of frequency. At lower frequencies. travel relatively short distances in a vertical straight line and can be blocked by obstacles such as trees.
rather than separate antennas for each. and lower cost cable can be used to connect the two units than if a high microwave frequency were used directly. DS-2. The indoor data interface unit will most often offer an IEEE 802. The radio unit modulates the information from the indoor data interface unit to a higher microwave frequency.particles in the atmosphere can also scatter the microwave signal and divert the energy into many different directions. or DS-3 digital signal. RF Unit. Scatter .Absorption . Most terminals use a single antenna at each end for transmitting and receiving. The modem may transmit the signal at baseband or at an intermediate frequency of approximately 70 MHz to the RF unit. The parabolic antenna functions primarily as a component that focuses the microwave signal into a narrow beam that radiates towards the opposite receiving antenna. The combination of these three components is known as a terminal. Two terminals are needed to establish a complete microwave link commonly known as a “hop”. Each terminal transmits and receives information to and from the opposite terminal .3 interface to the local area network. they are usually connected with special low loss coaxial cable. a radio unit and a parabolic antenna.Minute particles in the atmosphere such as oxygen and water vapor will absorb a small part of the signal energy. The RF unit is often mounted directly to the back of the antenna and is connected with a short piece of waveguide. Modem. If the RF unit is separated form the antenna. Using an intermediate frequency also allows the modem to be separated from the RF unit by up to 500 feet in many cases. The radio unit is most often placed out of doors near the antenna. Rain will absorb much of the signal energy particularly as the size of the drops approaches the wavelength of the microwave signal. but may sometimes offer bridging or routing functions. Baseband or an intermediate frequency is used by the modem because high frequencies have greater attenuation in cable than low frequency and for optimum system performance you cannot afford to lose any signal strength. The input is typically a standard DS-1. an operation known as full duplex. Separated RF units is that back mounted RF units will lose less signal from cable attenuation but may be harder to maintain if the repairman has to climb to an inaccessible antenna. 127 .The RF unit contains the electronic circuitry which boosts the signal from the modem’s intermediate frequency to the proper high frequency in the GHz range and then amplifies the signal for transmission. The indoor data interface unit generally operates as an Ethemet LAN transceiver interface. or a data signal such as Ethernet. The trade-off of back-mount vs. ANTENNA Figure 1. Typical Microwave Equipment TYPICAL MICROWAVE EQUIPMENT A typical microwave system can consist of three major components: an indoor data interface unit to connect to the network.The modem unit is the interface between the microwave equipment and the telephone or computer network equipment being attached.
Unlike transmitter power.a certain percentage. The most common interface is a 15 pin male D-connector AUI port. In applications where there is only one receiver. Parabolic antennas operate by focusing the incoming signal to one point known as the focal point of "feed" where the signal is gathered and sent to the RF unit for amplification. Other systems use a technique which modifies the amplitude and is known as amplitude modulation (AM). the better the receiver's performance. 23 GHz has only one channel bandwidth which is 50 MHz. the more negative the receiver sensitivity value in dBm.The antenna is used to radiate transmit signals and to capture receive signals.Antenna.Power is generally expressed in Watts or dBm which is a logarithmic measure relative to 1mW output. TRANSMITTER SPECIFICATIONS Power Output . This is to reduce the possibility that you system could interfere with other systems having an adjacent frequency. Modulation . Some microwave systems are designed to be field tunable through the entire 18 or 23 GHz frequency band while other systems are set at the factory and cannot be easily changed. The industry standard is to use the receiver sensitivity at 1 X Io" BER for comparing systems since it will SPECIFICAT1O NS Frequency Range .The range of frequencies over which the system can be made to operate. - - 128 . Single conversion receivers drop the signal frequency directly from the high frequency to the lower frequency. Antennas used for short haul microwave communications are parabolic in shape and are often referred to as a "dish". Some systems use a process of altering the frequency of the modulation which is known as frequency modulation (FM).Receivers come in two types: single conversion and dual conversion. Antennas are typically mounted outdoors on a rooftop or tower but under certain circumstances antennas can be located indoors behind a clear glass window.3 interfaces. Interface . Sensitivity is commonly specified for a 1 X IO3 IX BER and a 1 X I W BER. Frequency Tolerance . Conversion refers to the process the receiver uses to reduce the signal frequency fro the microwave range to the range used by the modem. single conversion is perfectly adequate but in applications where there may be more than one receiver in a room such as a hubbing arrangement. Tolerance is expressed as W. Some standard microwave systems offer DS1 and DS2 telecom rates with either twisted pair wire or coaxial interfaces. RECEIVER SPECIFICATIONS Type . Dual conversion first drops the high frequency to an intermediate frequency and then makes a second conversion to the lower frequency.Modulation is the process that microwave equipment uses to impose the information to be carried upon the microwave signal.most 23 GHz microwave systems transporting LAN traffic offer the standard IEEE 802. Sensitivity Receiver sensitivity is an indication of the ability of the microwave receiver to detect the proper signal. Antennas are connected to the RF unit via waveguide or low loss coaxial cable. single conversion receivers may interferewith each other. Bandwidth The channel bandwidth used by a microwave system is a key factor in how much information the system can caw. Receiver sensitivity is typically expressed as a negative dBm value which indicates that the receiver can distinguish a signal that is less than 1 mW in strength.The FCC mandates that transmitters will maintain their frequency within a certain tolerance.
For example. instead o spending f unnecessary time on plotting path profile. From effecting the antenna feed.A radome is a covering over the front of the antenna or shroud that is used to protect an antenna against accumulation of ice. Check for potential reflection point. system gain and antenna gain should be quoted separately. 4. although it is perfectly acceptable for a designer to. System gain figures provided by manufacturers sometimes include gain provided by antennas but to get a tme indication of the system's performance. the line-of-sight is blocked because of another structure in between.Beamwidth is a measure of the area in which the microwave energy is spread as it leaves the antenna. Some technical data sheets also refer to an unfaded BER. Most short haul antennas and particularly those located near potential interfering systems use shrouds. Shrouds also reduce the ability of signals from other 1. radomes may be equipped with heaters to melt accumulated snow and ice. the smaller the 3 dB Beamwidth angle the better. Establish clearance from any potential obstacles. In terms of decibels.65 efficiency variable z= 3. etc.choose one step ahead of another. 3. - 129 .provide the most conservative results. one may do a site survey first because one is situated in a particular building already. wasps. Shroud Shrouds are circular reflectors placed around the edge of the antenna to redirect microwave energy tat would otherwise escape to the side or behind the dish.1415 D= Diameter of antenna (in feet) A= Wavelength in feet (0. Establish basic system configuration and parameters. The standard method for measuring Beamwidth is to describe the angle at which the signal has lost half its power. In a metropolitan area. ANTENNA SPECIFICATIONS Gain . it is important to consider the various factors that affect microwave propagation. Beamwidth expresses how well the power is focused. snow. 2. Establish path profile. System performance calculations. MICROWAVE PATH ENGINEERING When implementing a microwave link. Site survey to assure line-of-sight. In areas of heavy snow. Unfaded BER refers to the BER during normal system operation and should be on the order of 1 X Io" BER of less.201 ft for 23 GHz) Beamwidth . FCC licensing applications will require you to report the 3 dB Beamwidth of your chosen antenna. this point is known as the 3dB point since a 3dB reduction in power corresponds to half the power. The necessary steps to ensure an accurate and reliable path are to: - K= 0. Again.Antenna gain is a function of both its diameter and the microwave frequency it is reflecting. 5. 6. dirt. Radomes are made of fiberglass or rubber and are clamped or bolted to the antenna. Radome . System Gain System gain is the bottom line number for system performance. it is very common to find out that although the two end points are merely a short distance apart. The gain of a parabolic antenna is calculated as: Gain = 10 log K (zD/A)* where: systems to reach the antenna and cause interference's. The attenuation of the radome or shroud is minimal. The steps are listed in their order of preference to minimize wasted engineering time. Radomes can be flat or rounded which provides some limited aerodynamic stability to the antenna.
K. Maps are the principal source of data. covering an area of 7. The receiver level can be determined as follows: RX=PwrTx+ AntTx FSL + A n h WGL. radio wave attenuation free space (free space loss) between two isotropic antennas (omnidirectionaltype) can be approximated by the function.The most relevant parameter for measuring digital microwave radio performance is the availability 130 . the loss will be -121. Although the surface of the earth is curved. the antenna gains. Based on the specific radio and path parameters. . an adequate receive level can be determined..7 dB. . FGk = signal frequency Dmiles distance between the = two antennas For example. a beam of microwave energy tends to travel in a straight line under normal conditions. The amount of bending depends on atmospheric conditions. r. an adequate first system can be built.objective to The establish a path profile along the transmission path is to ensure sufficient obstacle clearance. However. These maps show the terrain contour as well as the vegetation in the area.000. there is no indication of any structure heights. which usually precedes the field survey. There are several types of maps which will be helpful to the profile work. Establish Path Clearance. Where. Large buildings are shown as well. with occasions of bending downward by a slight amount due to atmospheric refraction. The best ones agree the topographical maps published by the US Geological Survey. - System Performance Calculations. Taking into account the transmitter power output. This factor.. whether as a curved earth with radius Kr and a straight-line microwave beam or as a flat earth with a bent microwave beam having a curvature of Kr. is the radius of a fictitious earth curve. This relative curvature can be shown graphically. = 1/2 mile). Depending on the location of the terminals. K. The objective is to obtain a strong receive level over all atmospheric conditions of operation.Establish Path P ~ o ~ ~ e . For a distance of 1 mile. Any change in the amount of beam bending caused by atmospheric conditions can then be expressed as a change in factor K.8 dB. According to the study on electromagnetic wave. more than one map may be required to show the entire path.. and for the field survey itself.The relative curvature of the earth and the microwave beam is an important fador when plotting a profile chart. and any losses between the antennas and the radio system. Establish Basic Sysfem Configuration-After determining a line-of-sight path. - - Where.5 minutes in both longitude and latitude (1 in. both for office study. for an 23-GHz signal traveling over a distance of 10 miles. The curve is equivalent to the relative curvature of the microwave beam w-th respect to the curvature of the actual earth minus the curvature of the actual beam of microwave energy. the signal loss is 141. and the degree and direction of bending can be conveniently defined by an equivalent earth radius factor. printed on a scale of 1:24. the next step is to determine the system configuration. PwrTx = Transmitter power out AntTx= Transmit antenna gain FSL = Free Space Loss A n h = Receiver antenna gain WGh = Any waveguide loss connecting the antennas to the radio system. mutiplied by the actual earth radius.
multipath and rain fading are calculated separately since multipath fading is rather constant but rain fading is only found during rain storms.and 23GHz systems used for short-haul network.97 percent over a year at a bit error rate level of 10“. The unavailability rate of the system is therefore . 131 . In the equipment design process. Rainfall outage usually dominates the major portion. index of refraction of water. multipath outage only accounts for a very small portion of the overall unavailability figure. rain will stir up the stratified atmosphere. A system is unavailable for different reasons. The first one is the possibility of an equipment outage. and can be quite different from the theoretical figure. Rain Outage. Most of the model data were based on an 18’ C temperature. It exhibits a frequency and duration of fading which are related to the variation of the structure of the refractive index in time. far the 18. There were experiments models on raindrop size distributions.There are two components controlling the expected equipment outage rate. Availability is the percentage of time a system is performing above a satisfactory rate. reflection. and the structure of the raindrop itself. terminal rain velocity. Signal attenuation due to the absorption and scattering effect of rain is known as rain fading. the manufacturer specifies the kind of components of the equipment. such as 99. Modeling of attenuation due to rain on terrestrial links can be very complicated. be aware that this is only a theoretical figure. and scatter as a result of normal atmospheric and terrain conditions is known as multipath fading.rate. refraction. we can group them into three categories. and part of the specification involves the mean time between failure (MTBF) for the components. The individual components mean time between failure rates can then be used to establish an expected mean time between failure for the finished equipment. This fading is also known as selective fading because the attenuation vanes with frequency or is frequency selective. also called dispersive fading.During stratified atmospheric conditions on a line-of-sight radio relay system. Rain outage 3. and the final performance outcome depends highly on the manufacturing quality control process.03 percent. The signal attenuation due to diffraction. each of them responsible for a portion of the outage budget: 1. and so on. When calculating the effect of fading upon microwave systems. and they all have a direct contribution to modeling of microwave rain attenuation. especially for frequencies below 20 GHz. and departure from that temperature can cause the prediction to be off by as much as 20 percent. Signal attenuation caused by these conditions is referred to as “fading” since their effect is a weakening or fading of the signal power. Unfortunately. This figure is then published by the manufacturer However. Furthermore. Multipath fading outage 2. On overland paths and in wet climates. the second is the time required to repair the equipment failure. various height configurations between the transmitting and receiving antennas can cause multiple fading. as research has shown the signal attenuation to be dependent on the rain rate. so multipath fading is not possible at the same time. From a system design standpoint. The two events are mutually exclusive of each other. ambient temperature. Equipment failure Multipath Fading Outage. absorption. these variations normally occur during the night and early moming hours of summer days. The possibility of an equipment outage is determined by the reliability of the individual electronic components. Equipment Failure.
it is necessary to begin the preparations needed to obtain a license to operate the proposed system. 3. Equipment failure diagnosis time. The process is known as frequency coordination. but this activity can be expedited to within one weeks time frame. or even days. Testing of the circuits before cutting over. Depending on the user's decision on a maintenance plan. Availability of spare parts. After reviewing your submittal. The process takes anywhere from two to 5 weeks for interference analysis and frequency coordination and 30 days for the FCC license approval. A license to operate a microwave system will not be granted by the FCC unless frequency coordination has been performed.Furthermore. This licensing procedure is a fairly simple process and assures the user of interference free operation. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a federal organization established by Congress to control the usage of the nation's ainnraves. every functional part of the equipment is redundant. To successfully complete the frequency coordination. The first step in obtaining a license is called frequency coordination. 5. called mean time to repair (MTTR) can last from 1 hour to 24 hours. The licensing process consists of three steps: First. Time to replace the failed components. Third. the mean time between failure of equipment depends on whether it has any redundant feature or not. the FCC grants your station the license to operate that specific microwave system at that specific site using the requested frequencies. that can perform this task. Performing a frequency coordination requires extensive knowledge of all existing microwave systems operating within an area. The time necessary to repair the unit depends on: 1. the coordinating company will need most of the system information contained on the balance sheet including the FCC identification codes given to the 132 . a License Request form 402 is filed with the FCC along with the frequency coordination report. Second. For hot-standby equipment. a frequency coordination is required to notify the other microwave users In your area of the impending implementation of another microwave system. there are a number of companies who maintain a database of existing microwave installations and perform frequency coordination studies. For this reason. the time required to repair the equipment. 2. FCC CONSIDERATIONS Once you have planned a microwave system and are prepared to begin implementation. 4. the mean time between failure rate is a lot higher than the nonhot-standby unit. They basically have access to a regularly updated database that identifies other existing microwave users in various geographic areas. that is. an interference analysis is performed to determine an available frequency without interference from existing operating frequencies.S. The geographic coordinates of your intended site is submitted to one of these search firms to allow them to accurately recommend a unique frequency that has minimal interference potential. Many search firms are available in the U. Most microwave LAN systems operate in the 23 GHz band and require licensing by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This process usually takes 30 days. The time required to reach the failed equipment for diagnosis. The FCC requires that every prospective microwave user perform a study to ensure that their proposed system does not cause interference problems with any existing systems and in tum is not interfered with by other systems. Site coordinates are generally obtained from a site survey. Upon equipment failure. the system unavailability clock starts counting.
Within this interconnections. emergency backup. Recent introductions of unlicensed microwave have been made available. T I and multiple-TI telephony traffic can be bit sliced time division multiplexed onto one microwave link along with the LAN traffic. Even in those areas. additional bandwidth can be added to the microwave such that full bandwidth LAN and telephony can be achieved. Due to the full bandwidth nature of microwave. Oftentimes microwave is used as an altemative to fiber or when traditional landlines are unavailable or difficult to implement. Medical institutions such as hospitals and clinics are using microwave to transport patient files. Businesses use microwave to extend ethemet and phone lines.5 miles. Because of the sophisticated technology involved. Schools use microwave LANs for administrative and academic purposes. Many businesses operate in a campus environment and use microwave to interconnect their buildings in the campus. MICROWAVE LAN APPLICATIONS Microwave is generally used to extend a LAN or to connect two LAN segments. These systems fall under FCC Rules Part 15 and can transport full bandwidth ethemet up to 0. perform remote medical imaging. networks can be expanded campus-wide. Warehouses use microwave for order tracking. They transport student records and files between schools in a district as well as share program information and intemet access. and video wnferencing. disaster recovery and internet access are becoming more popular. Frequency coordination is not usually a problem for 23 GHz except for some portions of significant population centers such as New York and Los Angeles.equipment when it was tested and accepted by the FCC. 133 . Frequency coordination typically takes two weeks but can usually be rushed if necessary. the frequency coordination company can generally make suggestions such as installing a special antenna or perhaps adding attenuator pads so the system will meet the interference standards for coordination. Other applications such as video conferencing. material control along with the standard ethemet connectivity requirements. Also. There is no FCC license requirement from the user. they can transfer files. and as such absolutely simplifies the process of implementing a microwave system. share multimedia presentations and conduct meetings via video conferencing.
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