Questions you might ask (or find yourself being asked) include:
“What throughput is required – voice and data?” “Can I mix
and match solutions for my network?” “What is the right
choice now, and will this continue to be the right choice for my
organisation in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years?”
When money is no object and data is what is needed, investing
in fiber can solve your linking issues. Fiber is generally
considered the best option for short, densely-populated paths
that require reliable linking. Why? Once installed, the link is
less susceptible to weather conditions than the alternatives,
and allows for superior transfer of information – both data and
voice. However, the infrastructure costs of fiber are significant
and repairs come at a costly expense of time and money if a
fault is found.
But what if a DMR or P25 network requires a long link
through rural terrain? The greater distances mean the cost
of fiber outweighs the benefit, particularly for public safety
organisations. This is where microwave and narrowband linking
step up as real contenders. Both options are reliable in their
own right, although you need to understand that microwave is
more susceptible to weather and terrain conditions than sub-
1GHz narrowband linking.
LINK IT UP:
FIBER, MICROWAVE OR NARROWBAND RADIO
– WHAT, WHERE AND WHY?
In this industry, we know that no two
linking solutions are the same. Whether the
path is short or long, urban or rural, they
are all at the mercy of the elements and
the solution must be carefully considered
to ensure the right balance between
performance and cost. Here, Lisa van
Vuuren, Sales and Marketing Coordinator
at MimoMax, gives us the lowdown on what
the options are, and how to come up with
the right solution.
Often, when the high cost means fiber has been factored
out, microwave is seen as the only option. So let’s look at
microwave first. Most microwave solutions offer a fantastic
rate of information transfer, they are upgradable to support
growing future needs and are significantly cheaper than
fiber. So, why not microwave? While it is cheaper, in terms of
time and financial investment the outlay to install microwave
infrastructure can very often exceed initial expectations.
There are ongoing maintenance costs to consider as well.
Aligning the antenna when installing a microwave link, and
then realigning during significant weather events can lead to
unforeseen costs down the track, resulting in an expensive
solution that undermines the inherent reliability of the link.
However, where antenna space is available, the site is easily
accessible, and ongoing realignment and maintenance costs are
acceptable, then microwave could be the right solution for the
link, and is definitely worth exploring.
Narrowband linking provides ever-increasing throughput, and
network operators are often surprised by its capabilities. With
spectral efficiency and smart technology, a narrowband linking
solution is, almost without exception, the simplest to deploy
and adjust. It stands up to significant weather events that