Is your mission critical Wireless Backhaul Strategy Future-Proofed?

By James Rugg 6 min read

With the advancements in wireless backhaul technologies (microwave and millimeterwave)  over the last decade, there are several considerations that public sector technology leaders must take into account when developing their strategies and making decisions.

When investigating potential solutions, they should ask questions such as whether to use licensed versus license-exempt technologies, the location of the stakeholders that need to be supported, the capacity requirements for essential or mission-critical applications, and whether to pay for it all today (capital expenditure) and how much to protect that investment in the future (operational expenditures).

The following abstract from Jim Rugg, Director – Public Safety & Federal Markets at Ceragon Networks, North America, throws some light on these subjects.

Licensed vs. license-exempt – the ongoing debate

With the proliferation of mobile devices, most CIOs and CTOs understand the need for a comprehensive plan for their license-exempt WiFi-based networks to support their enterprises, especially since the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) and WLAN access points with remote management has become uncommon.

However, only a few technology leaders have had to really consider why WiFi or license-exempt wireless backhaul can be risky and what happens to the license-exempt spectrum once it leaves the carpeted environment and moves outdoors. In fact, license-exempt short-distance wireless technologies do have a place. However, when considering mission-critical data pipes, licensed wireless backhaul should be the first choice in almost every instance.

When taking a closer look at why a licensed wireless backhaul is a good option, it's important to understand the physics and radio frequency (RF) propagation techniques that are now available and achieve data rates of more than 1 GB/sec over the air. However, just like other natural resources, RF spectrum has both valuable aspects as well as limitations.

When planned and used wisely, licensed wireless backhaul can ensure your network is free of interference and allow for 99.999 availability, as well as peace of mind that your data is not subject to other interfering signals (which is common with license-exempt wireless backhaul).

Where are your stakeholders located?

According to CTOs and CIOs who interact with state-wide, regional, and municipal stakeholders, it is common for there to be large distances between campuses or Emergency Operations Centers (EOC), and for departments to be geographically dispersed.

Furthermore, most of these public sector technology leaders believe that they must extend fiber to each of their remote stakeholders in order for them to run their essential business applications. This assumption is not only inaccurate, but it can be costly and time-consuming because of essential permits, contractors, and in some cases, the material required to support fiber.

Moreover, some savvy CIOs and CTOs have started building comprehensive wireless backhaul strategies to support their dispersed enterprise. This has allowed these leaders to provide network redundancy and resiliency to their existing fiber networks, as well as giving them the ability to quickly return to operational levels following a natural disaster or catastrophic event via their wireless backhaul network as opposed to fiber alone.

Capacity requirements now and in the future?

It's also important to consider both the current operational requirements and future requirements needed to support new applications. When evaluating various wireless backhaul technology providers, ask yourself the following questions in terms of capacity:

  • How long will it take to deploy a link that provides 100 Mbps vs a 1 Gbps link?
  • What are the deployment costs to get over 1 Gbps over the air?
  • How can I get more capacity with your solution?
  • What are the ongoing operational costs involved in maintaining a wireless backhaul system that may only need a certain capacity today, and a different capacity tomorrow?
  • How does a wireless backhaul technology provider deal with end-of-life (EOL) / end-of-service (EOS) announcements?
  • Are both CAPEX (capital expenditure) and OPEX (operational expenditures) investments protected – is hardware backward compatibility (CAPEX) ensured, and will the interfaces used for existing systems easily migrate to newer technologies (OPEX)?

What deployment type is right for your unique requirements?

Whether your network is located in a downtown metropolitan area or on a mountain in the Pacific Northwest, your operational requirements are unique. Choosing a wireless backhaul technology partner that offers each of the solutions listed below can help you control your OPEX costs as you build your long-range wireless strategy. Additionally, a partner that provides one common interface for its entire portfolio greatly saves on operational costs and is more efficient – especially when requirements dictate using more than a single deployment scenario.

The 3 major types of licensed wireless backhaul scenarios include:

  • All outdoor (zero-footprint) - primarily power over ethernet (POE) or DC injector mounted over outdoor UV-rated low voltage cabling; controller and radio frequency unit (RFU) combined in the same chassis with direct connection to the antenna system.
  • Split-mountcontrol unit - primarily mounted indoors or in a shelter; combined with an outdoor RFU mounted near a directional antenna.
  • All indoor - places all active components (controller and RFU) inside a protected shelter with an elliptical waveguide running from the active components to the outdoor antenna system.

For public sector CTOs and CIOs tasked with developing their long-range wireless backhaul strategy, Ceragon rises to the challenge with its FibeAir IP-20 Assured family of products that ensures your WiFi-based networks are future-proofed. All of our Ceragon IP-20 radios contain a simple, easy-to-use, common interface – no matter which mounting type you require.


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