Friday, September 30, 2011

Timing Solutions

Time for an Update on Timing Solutions
By Errol Binda, Sr. Manager, Solutions Marketing, Aviat Networks

Our partner, Symmetricom, recently announced the launching of a new segment of their SyncWorld ecosystem for microwave backhaul. Our hat's off to them; this is great news for Symmetricom and the new players that are now on board. We boarded this train awhile back. After a couple years of collaborative testing between us, we first joined the ecosystem when it was initially launched in March at CTIA 2011.

So, what have we learned since then you might ask?

Well for one, packet based timing is still growing in interest, evaluation, and deployment. Customers around the world - including mobile operators, state and utility providers and others - are increasingly looking for timing solutions that operate over their Ethernet fiber and microwave network as effectively as their TDM timing solutions do. A recent Heavy Reading analyst report projects close to 2 million cell sites will have deployed the two most dominant solutions, IEEE 1588v2 and Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE), by 2015.

Secondly, we've learned this is by no means the technology race it started out to be. Remember when Blu-ray and HD-DVD were competing a few years ago? Or perhaps that has well faded into memory. Well, I still recall the industry buzz a couple years ago about whether Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) was going to kill IEEE 1588v2, or vice-versa. Who was going to come out on top?

Telecom watchers and players are always primed for a tech battle it seems. Well lo and behold; this battle has become more of an alliance, as of late.

The dominant discussion today is now about how BOTH these technologies can co-exist, and where best to deploy them in a network, either side by side or in parallel, with one backing up the other. Hmmm, now that's an interesting conclusion to a tech battle.

Case in point, a couple of our customers are planning to deploy both technologies to take advantage of their respective strengths and are in the process of doing just this. See this whitepaper for more information about synchronization over microwave backhaul or maybe this one for insight into deploying IEEE1588v2 synchronization.

So, with the reality today that packet timing is still growing and that options for packet timing (including TDM, 1588v2, SyncE, and GPS) will continue to co-exist for a long time, it becomes even more critical to seek experience when it comes to planning your sync migration.

An ecosystem is probably a good place to start, especially with those players that have been at it for some time.

Reprinted from the Aviat Networks Blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Broadband Myths

"Faster, Better, Cheaper" Broadband Wireless Product Myths

Lynda Partner

I bought a new car last month and a big selling feature to me was fuel economy. I compared the stats carefully to others and was really pleased with what my selected car manufacturer claimed. However my actual fuel economy wasn’t anything close to what the data sheet said it would be. When I called the dealer to ask, he gave me a long lecture about how fuel consumption stats were calculated under very specific conditions - in other words “results may vary”.

When it comes to broadband wireless, it seems there aren’t many commonly accepted definitions for the attributes we use to compare radios. Many attributes are open to interpretation. Some vendors are aggressive in their numbers, others less so, but that makes it really difficult for prospective customers to compare one radio to another or to believe you’ll realize exactly what the data sheet is promising.

So before you end up buying a radio that doesn’t perform exactly as the data sheet said it would, you might want to ask a few questions, especially in the areas of speed, environmental certifications and open standards - three areas that are very open to interpretation.

Myth 1: Our radio delivers high capacity (FASTER) You’ve heard it before- “Our radio delivers lots of Mbps”. Claims like this would lead you to believe the product can actually deliver the stated Mbps of data payload. However, for radios that operate in unlicensed bands many factors contribute to lower effective bandwidth, such as:

  • Protocols. If a CSMA protocol is used to manage access to the air interface, it will consume about 50% of the available bandwidth, leaving at best 50% of the promised Mbps under ideal link conditions (excellent line of sight, no interference... etc.)
  • Channel Size. Super high Mbps can only be achieved if you were able to use the full 40 MHz channel. This is an unrealistic expectation as a 40 MHz channel represents 90% of the bandwidth available in the unlicensed 5.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands. Since other users will be using these bands, you will never get full use of a 40 MHz channel.
  • Distance - radios have their highest capacity at short distances but as the distance increases the capacity of some radios drops quickly.

All this taken into account, you may see a real payload delivery of less than one third the stated Mbps - a huge difference! For unlicensed band radios, the truth is that interference, excess demand, distance, and packet sizes can all contribute to a lower effective bandwidth. How the radio is designed in terms of the air interface, protocol and error correction is critical for optimal performance.

Your takeaway: Ask the vendor for test cases that include interference, distance and packet sizes and other test conditions to get a real picture of payload capacity.

Myth 2: Our radio is “ABC” Certified (BETTER) A product may be compliant, certified or both. A product is “compliant” when it meets certain minimum standards or measures but it may not be “certified”. Product certification involves processes to prove a product meets minimum standards. Wikipedia goes on to say “Product certification is provided by an authority that accredits the performance or constituents of products, systems, or components. Examples of these authorities are national standards, standards writing organizations, certification organizations, and testing organizations.” In other words, product certification is a lengthy, sometimes costly process.
However there is nothing to stop anyone from stating that their product is, for example, “ABC-compliant” even if they haven’t received independent verification. A good example is environmental certification - where the data sheet says the radio is IP67 / NEMA-6X certified to operate in harsh outdoor environments, will work over an industrial temperature range of -40 to +60 degrees C and meet ASTM-B928 to work in salt-laden marine environments. The truth is that the radio must be independently certified (not simply designed) to meet these standards to ensure the radio works as you hoped it would.

Your takeaway: Ask what certifications a product has earned and ask for proof of independent certification.

Myth 3: Our radio supports open standards (CHEAPER) Open standards is one of the most ill-defined terms in our industry. To many, this statement would lead you to believe the radio will work seamlessly with radio accessories such as cables and power supplies from other manufacturers giving you the option to source alternative components and to minimize your inventory. NEVER ASSUME. A radio that is specified to be open standards may mean the radio meets the open standards (i.e. WiFi, OFDM...etc) but it may also mean you are required to buy the radio accessories and network accessories from the radio manufacturer. As the total cost of the radio includes cables, power supplies, switches and routers, it’s important to consider the price and availability of all components. A lower cost radio may end up being more expensive if your only option is proprietary cables, proprietary power supplies and proprietary Ethernet switches and routers. So don’t assume - ask.

Your takeaway: Don’t assume - ask what they mean by support of open standards. Ask if the radio supports standard cables, power supplies and networking gear from third parties.


You have probably heard the saying “Faster, Better, Cheaper- Pick Two”. Radio vendors are notorious for saying their radios can reach incredible speeds (faster), environmentally certified (better), and meet open standards (cheaper). However, take a moment to think critically about the statements your radio vendor is making and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Reprinted from the Redline Communications Blog

Monday, September 19, 2011

4G Service

What is 4G Wireless Service?

When purchasing a wireless device, consumers are often confused about the meaning of 4G service and the speed of their wireless phone service. At the request of the Consumer Awareness Project, WCAI President Fred Campbell created a field guide to simplify this very technical issue and provide background information on the wireless technology and the history of its development. Read more here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Carrier Wi-Fi

A Case for Carrier Wi-Fi

By Stephen Rayment, BelAir Networks

Everybody loves free Wi-Fi but not everyone acknowledges that the best people to run Wi-Fi networks are the folks that run networks for a living, i.e. mobile carriers and cable operators. In her article, "The Myth of Free Wi-Fi," in BBC News Magazine, Virginia Brown bemoans the lack of free Wi-Fi but stops short of coming up with a sustainable solution. I think that the solution lies in more Carrier Wi-Fi networks. Even those who want to view Wi-Fi as a public utility, akin to electricity, would acknowledge that you want experts running the grid.

Of course, I'm biased. BelAir Networks builds Carrier Wi-Fi gear. We sell our Carrier Wi-Fi gear to Tier One carriers and we help them design and deploy big Carrier Wi-Fi networks. So, yes, I'm biased. But, I would also argue that I do have some unique experience and perspective to offer on the topic.

And like most of you, I'm sure, I am a mobile broadband user. And, as such, here's why I think users should want carriers to run Wi-Fi networks:

First, because experience has proven that only carriers can make large-scale Wi-Fi networks free. The BBC brings up the Swindon example but there were others - does anyone remember Earthlink? Meanwhile, major carriers like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have all deployed large-scale Carrier Wi-Fi networks offering free Wi-Fi services to their subscribers.

Sure, you can argue that you have to be a subscriber to another one of the carrier's services in order to qualify for their free Wi-Fi. But, let's face it, most of us do subscribe to the services of a mobile carrier or cable operator, or both. So, chances are that if your carrier offered free Wi-Fi, you would probably qualify.

Carriers are also in the best position to make your Wi-Fi experience more seamless and secure. The concepts of secure seamless roaming (SSR) and session mobility (SM) are supported by carriers who want to make Wi-Fi as easy to use as cellular. The new industry standards known as Hotspot 2.0 and Next Generation Hotspot are all about SSR and carriers are driving these initiatives.

In a recent report on Wi-Fi Hotspots, In-Stat research listed network capacity as one of the potential inhibitors to Wi-Fi Hotspot growth. They stated that as more people use Wi-Fi hotspots more often and for higher bandwidth activities (like video), this increased demand could create a bottleneck that would need to be addressed through bandwidth management and increased backhaul. Carriers can do that. They do that in their networks every day.

Sure, carriers don't offer free Wi-Fi for nothing (that doesn't sound right but you get what I mean). Carriers deploy Wi-Fi to help offload mobile data traffic in congested cell sites, in order to ensure a better mobile broadband user experience. They offer it as a value-added benefit to their valuable subscribers. And they use it because it contributes to the profitability of their networks. Carriers know how to run sustainable networks - that's their business. Carriers know what kind of equipment to buy to ensure that the network won't break down - otherwise their OpEx would be out of control. Networks that aren't sustainable, where costs outweigh benefits, fail. And you end up with another Swindon.

Let's face it, Wi-Fi was originally developed as a residential and enterprise technology. But now that people are increasingly depending on Wi-Fi when they're out and about it is becoming a critical part of the whole mobile broadband equation. It's no longer a case of just installing a couple of APs and calling it a day. Even businesses that offer free Wi-Fi aren't doing it themselves anymore. In the US, Wi-Fi in Starbucks is run by AT&T. Businesses recognize that Wi-Fi is no longer just an amenity, it is on its way to becoming a network necessity. And because of that, they know it is best to get the network experts involved. The people that build and run networks for a living.

I think it's pretty obvious that carriers have a lot to gain from Wi-Fi but it's also obvious that users have much to gain from Carrier Wi-Fi. It's really one of those (trite expression alert!) win-win situations.

Reprinted from BelAir Networks Blog

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mobile Broadband Investment and Job Creation

Creating Jobs and Enhancing America’s Competitiveness through Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Investment

By Fred Campbell, President & CEO, WCAI

The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is meeting today in Dallas, Texas to discuss how infrastructure investment can create jobs and help America compete in the global economy. The Wireless Communications Association International is pleased that the Council is considering the incredible impact of mobile broadband infrastructure investment on job creation, American competitiveness, and economic growth. Intensive investment in mobile networks significantly increased American growth and prosperity over the last two decades and will in the next decade if government policies continue to promote investment and innovation in mobile infrastructure.

The U.S. is currently the world leader in mobile broadband innovation with the most 3G broadband subscribers and global market share in smartphone operating systems. According to a recent report from Deloitte, the U.S. wireless industry’s contributions to gross domestic product grew by more than 16% per year from 1992 to 2007, while the growth rate for the remainder of the economy averaged less than 3% per year. Despite the recession in 2007 to 2010, the U.S. continued to invest in wireless infrastructure at average level of $20 billion annually. These investments were driven by the availability of spectrum (i.e., airwaves) necessary to deploy third generation (“3G”) wireless networks and a market-oriented approach to wireless regulation that created an “entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem” of mobile infrastructure, devices, software, and content.

Even though today’s 3G networks have only recently been widely deployed, there are still enormous opportunities for additional investment in mobile broadband infrastructure. The rapid consumer adoption of smartphones is producing a wireless data explosion that threatens to overwhelm today’s 3G networks. To cope with exponential growth in mobile data traffic, the wireless industry is beginning to invest in the deployment of fourth generation (“4G”) mobile broadband technologies. Because investment in 4G mobile broadband infrastructure creates jobs, increases U.S. competitiveness, and grows the economy both when the networks are built and when they’re used, every dollar invested in mobile broadband infrastructure adds about three dollars in gross domestic product. Deloitte projects U.S. 4G network investment ranging from $25 billion (the “baseline” case) to $53 billion (the “robust” case) over the next five years, which would add 371,000 to 771,000 jobs in the U.S. and generate $73 billion to $151 billion in gross domestic product growth. The “robust” case assumes the U.S. maintains global leadership in mobile broadband by deploying 4G networks more expansively and quickly than in the baseline case.

Policymakers have a critical role to play in maximizing 4G investment and maintaining U.S. leadership in mobile broadband. Deployment of 4G network technologies on available spectrum is not enough to meet exploding consumer demand for mobile broadband capacity and enable new services that rely on 4G capabilities. Mobile broadband service providers need access to more spectrum to deploy robust 4G networks, but they cannot access the spectrum they need without the permission of policymakers. Given the projected impact of 4G infrastructure investment, authorizing access to more mobile spectrum may be the single most important policy option available to create jobs, enhance American competitiveness, and grow the economy. The best part is that policymakers don’t need to spend any taxpayer money to do it.