The strongest link

Microwave technology has been gaining traction in telecoms markets around the world, and in this region the case is not much different. Andy Singer, CEO of US-based Radio Waves explains the technology's advantages, and the reasons behind its growing uptake.

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By  Administrator Published  April 1, 2007

CommsMEA: Are there any specific challenges/advantages to rolling out microwave links in the region as opposed to relying on fibre or leased line backhaul technologies?

Andy Singer: If you make a comparison to fibre and leased lines they have two disadvantages in the region compared to microwave. One is that there are many areas they are not available as an option. The other disadvantage is that unless you are the wireline operator that owns these facilities, you face a monthly leasing cost at a time when operators are keen to lower OPEX. Point-to-point microwave is proven and scalable, and is relatively inexpensive. There are also new products available from our partner at Bridgewave Communications that offer GB capacity as we move forward.

CommsMEA: Do you believe network traffic in the Middle East at this point has reached levels that necessitate upgrades in backhaul infrastructure like we have witnessed in more developed/advanced telecoms markets?

AS: Absolutely, usage of cell phones has grown at an astonishing rate and the take up on data services is becoming quite noticeable. The region's economy has done well the last few years, moving with the price of oil. Governments and companies in the region have wisely invested in infrastructure. There is clearly a growing need for backhaul in the region.

CommsMEA: What are the obvious opportunities you see in the Middle East and african markets For the proliferation of microwave technology in general?

AS: There are a number of great opportunities due to the growth. First, traditional point-to-point microwave will grow rapidly. Secondly we see more and more end users utilising unlicensed radios in the 5GHz band.

We expect to see these applications grow as we move forward. While this may ultimately cause some interference issues, Radio Waves has developed a new series of HP (high performance) 5GHz microwave dish antennas to help minimise this interference. We also expect to see E-band (80GHz) ultra high capacity radios being licensed and deployed in the range at some point in the not too distant future. The dryer conditions present in much of the region, makes this an even more exciting solution.

CommsMEA: What are the frequency implications of utilising microwave technology in the region, if any?

AS: At this time all the popular licensed bands are being utilised. This includes 7, 15, 18 and 23GHz. Due to high usage of microwave in the same areas we are now seeing more deployments at 33GHz. We also are seeing an increase in the usage of unlicensed 5GHz links as mentioned.

CommsMEA: Vertical markets such as banking, health, and oil & gas are developing very specific communications needs. What role can microwave technology Play in addressing these needs cost effectively?

AS: Microwave can play an extremely cost effective role for many of these vertical markets. Let me provide two examples. In the case of the oil sector, microwave is a very cost effective solution for communicating with oil platforms on the ocean. Satellite can be quite expensive, but for many of the platforms close enough to land for a microwave link, the economies of these links is a winner for the oil company.

Another example is hospitals. Modern facilities utilise MRI machines and if the MRI data needs to be moved to different buildings at a hospital in a city or town, microwave can provide a very cost effective and quick-to-deploy high capacity solution. At Radio Waves, we are bullish on the Middle East and microwaves role in improving communication networks. This is why we are following developments here closely.

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