Gigabit Millimeter Wireless Transports TDM and IP Traffic
When fiber optic connections won’t work, consider a millimeter wave wireless link.
What do you do when you need to get Gigabit bandwidth services into a building that has no fiber connection to your network? If you are XO Communications, you simply add a wireless hop using BridgeWave Communications FlexPort link. No stringing aerial wires on poles. No trenching fiber optic conduit. Just high bandwidth connectivity through the air.
Gbps Without Wires
We’re used to thinking of twisted pair copper and microwave wireless as the right solutions for moderate bandwidth needs. Gigabit bandwidth levels obviously require fiber optic strands, right? Not really. Point to point fixed wireless systems can give you fiber optic performance without the fiber or the optics.
Farther Than Optical Solutions
I mention optics because there are laser based solutions designed to connect buildings at Gigabit levels. They are especially well suited for connecting networks between two tall office buildings separated by a freeway or river that makes installing fiber prohibitively expensive if even possible. But that’s maybe a thousand feet or so. How about when you need to link networks over a few miles line of sight?
Characteristics Of Millimeter Waves
This is the area where BridgeWave shines, so to speak. Actually, they’re using two-way millimeter wave transmissions in the 60 and 80 GHz radio bands. Those frequencies are high, but nowhere near the infrared or visible portion of the spectrum. Here’s something interesting, though. Oxygen attenuates signals in the 60 GHz band, a property unique to that portion of the spectrum. That limits transmission distance, but it also works to ensure that multiple users on the same frequency are unlikely to interfere with each other. The signal is simply absorbed by the air on either side of the narrow beam and past the receiving antenna.
If you’ve had a bad experience with RF links in the WiFi band or other microwave and UHF frequencies, you can appreciate both the interference avoidance and inherent security of the millimeter wave band. It’s likely that anyone trying to intercept a 60 GHz transmission would have to insert themselves in the path to such an extent that they would affect the strength of the signal at the intended receiver and give themselves away.
80 GHz vs 60 GHz Bands
The 80 GHz band doesn’t have the oxygen absorption characteristics of the 60 GHz band, so it is better suited to medium haul rather than short haul links despite the higher frequencies. Still, the interference is minimized and security is enhanced due to the narrow beam width of the millimeter wavelength system.
The BridgeWave FlexPort80 link that XO is deploying is available in the 80 GHz millimeter wave band plus the licensed 18 and 23 GHz microwave bands for longer links. One of the attractive aspects of the BridgeWave equipment is that it is an all-outdoor solution. Some competing systems simply have an outdoor antenna with rack mounted transmission gear needed inside the building.
Both TDM and IP Traffic
Another feature especially valuable for today’s corporate networks is the ability to transmit both TDM and IP traffic. The TDM capability is also being used by mobile carriers to backhaul their 3G and 4G networks from isolated base stations. It should be noted that FlexPort80 delivers simultaneous TDM + IP connectivity, making it truly a “flex port.”
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