When designing microwave networks, backhaul engineers have a wide variety of techniques at their disposal. One method that remains highly effective is Space Diversity (SD). With SD, two antennas separated by some distance can increase the availability of a link from something less than 99.999 percent to in excess of five-nines uptime. However, the introduction of a second parabolic antenna on a microwave path poses a substantial increase in the capital expenditure (capex) budget.
Figure 1: 8-foot antenna (left) clearly much bulkier than a 3-foot antenna (right in carton). Basketball included to indicate relative scale.
You may have noticed we’ve been talking a lot lately about our new 39dBm EHP radio (the most powerful digital microwave radio ever built by the way). We’ve been getting a phenomenal response to this product mostly because of the real business benefits it delivers…benefits largely related to the antenna.
As a rule of thumb in microwave backhaul, the more powerful the radio (i.e., system gain) the smaller the antenna has to be (i.e., overall diameter). More than any other factor, smaller antennas drastically lower the total cost of ownership for microwave.