Microwave Path Design
For many wireless carriers, microwave is becoming a popular choice over wireline transport. It is an attractive option for many reasons, especially as radio equipment costs decrease. Low monthly operating costs can undercut those of typical T1 expenses, proving it more economical over the long term. Carriers also are attracted to its modular and expandable characteristics. Network operators like the fact that they can own and control microwave radio networks instead of relying on other service providers for network components. Like many carriers, you may be planning to jump on the microwave bandwagon. But before you move forward, make sure you understand all of the design considerations that will affect your deployment.
First, it is important to understand the relationship between capacity, frequency band, path distance, tower heights, radio equipment and antennas. In the United States, there are numerous licenses to operate microwave radio, including 2GHz, 6GHz, 7GHz, 8GHz, 10GHz, 11GHz, 13GHz, 15GHz,18GHz, 23GHz and 38GHz frequency bands. Wavelengths in the lower frequencies are longer, which is important because the wavelength determines how the atmosphere affects transmission. The atmosphere may refract longer waves. Refraction can reduce the length of the path, or microwave hop. In developed countries, such as the United States, much of the available frequency spectrum already is in use. Competition for these frequencies has pushed use into higher bands, such as 38GHz. Radios in the 2GHz to 6GHz frequencies can transmit over longer distances, which makes them more suitable for rural areas. High-frequency radios are a better fit for suburban and urban environments. For example, a low-frequency radio could carry a signal for more than 12.5 miles, while a high-frequency radio, such as a 23GHz radio, could cover a path distance of more than three miles.
The term often refers to the impact of rain. interference analysis. a
. the reduction in energy as a signal travels through equipment. Based on capacity and radio equipment. So you could select a 16DS1-capacity radio operating at 38GHz to carry a significant amount of traffic over a path distance of less than five miles. Rainfall rates and storm duration can affect the availability of the path at 23GHz and 38GHz. tower heights and terrain elevation will play a major role in how you plan and construct the system. intermittent object. As a result. As a result. trees and buildings can block a microwave signal and limit the distance of a microwave path. You will use a large antenna (low frequency) when the path is longer. multi-path fading. system diversity and long-distance specifications.Terrain & Weather
Because line of sight is a microwave requirement. design engineers can calculate rain effect to ensure customer requirements are met. which is equivalent to three DS3s. snow or fog as well as normal signal loss in the waveguide and microwave system itself. radio. fade margin calculations. Large antennas require large towers and have higher wind and ice load factors. snow. waveguide (hollow metal conductor connecting the RF equipment to the antenna) and feed cables. In many cases. A microwave system includes an antenna. These four factors also will dictate system reliability. Capacity is another important consideration. multiplexers. You can configure radios to carry a certain amount of traffic in a specific frequency. For example. terrain such as mountains. You also must take into account attenuation. fresnel zone clearance. you also must consider existing tower loads to ensure that you can implement the design on existing or planned towers and structures. transmission lines or air. the rate on the path will vary. However. antenna size. hills. Raindrops also vary in shape. sand and dust have minimal influence in the frequency bands above 8GHz. Fog. large drops change shape as they fall. a bird or other object moving through the microwave path will not affect your design because transmission can go around a small. Capacities range from DS1 to OC-3. However.
waveguides. In the United States. the path is not a line and is not straight. and frequency attenuation relationships. the National Weather Service Library provides detailed data on rain rate and dropsize distribution.
System Design Options
The objective for any microwave system is to provide the best distortion-free and interference-free service. Ice and snow have little effect on high-frequency radio links. microwave propagation is referred to as line of sight. It also can be expressed as a value of S/I ratio with typical values ranging from 60dB to 95dB. Also. path length. It often is thought of as a straight line in space from transmitting to receiving antenna. The propagation is like electromagnetic
. frequency or space separations in diversity systems. cabling and radiation or by spurious products within radio equipment. do not forget to consider temperature. In some cases. The signal power ranges from as low as -125dBm to -100dBm. Generally. It also includes fade margins. The attenuation will depend on metallic content. External interference depends on many factors and typically is expressed in one of two ways. Distortion also may occur in the radio path. Interference experience in the radio system can be classified as external interference and internal or self-interference. which are affected by noise figure. It can be expressed as an absolute value of the interfering signal power not to be exceeded at the input to the interfered receiver. Overall. power failures and propagation performance of the individual paths.radio wave with vertical polarization is less attenuated than a wave that is horizontally polarized. transmitter power and waveguide attenuation. Transmitting through glass causes attenuation. Self-interference in the radio system can be introduced through antennas. reliability or service continuity depends on equipment failure rates. Actually. and filter arrangements. You will get the best results by placing the antenna at least 12 inches from the window at a 10-degree angle. any exterior coating on the glass and the angle of incidence of the radiated beam. This involves antenna sizes and elevations. and antenna radomes are designed to prevent snow accumulation. you will need to locate an antenna indoors.
waves represented as functions of sine and cosine. refractive index. There are two basic sets of clearance criteria that are commonly used. D = total length of path in miles. d1 = distance from one end of path to reflection point in miles. delay distortion is caused by reflected energy that reaches the receiving antenna but is delayed by a number of wavelengths as compared to the direct signal. and D = path distance in miles. d2 = D . where there are no ground influences or obstructions. Spreading energy primarily causes the loss as the wavefront travels through the space. waveguide system or the radio equipment can cause delay distortion. rain attenuation and various K factors affect propagation. there is. Heavy route is used for systems with the most stringent reliability requirements.
. Terrain also plays a significant role in microwave propagation. the earth's curvature and dielectric constant of the atmosphere. in the vertical plane because of height variation. or refracted path. It is known as free space loss and is defined as the loss created between two isotropic antennas in free space. reflective index. This loss increases with both the frequency and distance. you must satisfy path clearance with 0. The free space formula is A= 96. In general. Light route is used for systems with slight relaxation of the requirements. You can calculate the first Fresnel zone at any point in the path by using Fn = 72.6F1. When travelling through the atmosphere. The radio path. The propagation also influences path clearance. Although the atmosphere and terrain that a radio beam travels have little affect on path loss. a characteristic loss. You can use sweep instrumentation to detect and delay this distortion. where Fn = nth Fresnel zone radius in feet. which creates noise distortion in the received message. for a given frequency and distance. and f = frequency in GHz. Waveguide echoes are another source of delay distortion.6 + 20 log10F + 20 log10D. F = frequency in GHz. In the propagation path. where F1 is the first Fresnel zone. To reduce terrainrelated losses. They result from impedance mismatches or equipment irregularities.1*SQRT((n*d1*d2)/fD).d1. The choice of clearance criteria for a microwave route or path is important because it can affect the cost and quality of performance profoundly. it usually follows a slightly curved path. weather fronts. where A = free space attenuation in dB.
You can implement space and frequency diversity to either eliminate or to reduce fading. you can increase path availability.Multipath fading also affects microwaves. System planners should perform path calculations to establish fade margins and system gain. determine the amount of power the radio uses to transmit and receive signals. Microwave network design can take different physical forms. If you want to follow appropriate design processes.
. Geodetic survey maps and photos are useful for subsequent planning from an office location. Equipment and the radio path itself affect reliability. point to point. Reflections in the atmosphere. You also must consider reliability when planning your network. you should visit the planned transmission sites to conduct a walk-through of existing facilities and obtain zoning information. taking into account an estimate of system downtime for the locale of the planned radio (average rainfall). More power usage equates to higher operating costs. star and ring configurations. interference from other radios and atmospheric conditions can affect transmission performance. For example. A ring configuration protects against site failure and provides alternate transmission paths to maximize network protection. Diversity reception decreases the chance that a signal will be lost by combining signals from two or more antennas (space diversity) or by transmitting the same signal on two or more frequency channels (frequency diversity). Frequency diversity is not allowed in many markets because spectrum is scarce.
When selecting equipment. Space and frequency diversity use redundant hardware but also decouple the paths used by microwave transmissions. Fade margin is the allowance made to accommodate estimated propagation fading without exceeding a specified signal-to-noise ratio. data networks carrying critical information may demand higher reliability than other applications. which improves overall system reliability and availability. By adding path diversity schemes to a radio design.
antenna height.To increase equipment reliability. allowing for full redundancy. you may want to select hot standby. With careful attention to link gain power. redundant processors allow for an automatic cutover to allow transmission to continue. receiver sensitivity. In case of an equipment failure. attenuation and availability requirements. you can integrate microwave radio effectively into virtually any wireless system.
. free space loss.