Microwave ODU

Microwave ODU (Outdoor Unit)

The term ODU is used in Split-Mount Microwave systems where an Indoor Unit (IDU) is typically mounted in an indoor location (or weatherproof shelter) connected via a coaxial cable to the ODU which is mounted on a rooftop or tower top location.

CableFree Microwave ODU
CableFree Microwave ODU

Often the ODU is direct mounted to a microwave antenna using “Slip fit” waveguide connection.  In some cases, a Flexible Waveguide jumper is used to connect from the ODU to the antenna.

ODU functions

The ODU converts data from the IDU into an RF signal for transmission. It also converts the RF signal from the far end to suitable data to transmit to the IDU. ODUs are weatherproofed units that are mounted on top of a tower either directly connected to a microwave antenna or connected to it through a wave guide.

Generally, Microwave ODUs designed for full duplex operation, with separate signals for transmit and receive.  On the airside interface this corresponds to a “pair” of frequencies, one for transmit, the other for receive.  This is known as “FDD” (Frequency Division Duplexing)

ODU Power and data signals

The ODU receives its power and the data signals from the IDU through a single coaxial cable. ODU parameters are configured and monitored through the IDU.  The DC power, transmit signal, receive signal and some command/control telemetry signals are all combined onto the single coaxial cable.  This use of a single cable is designed to reduce cost and time of installation.

ODu Frequency bands and sub-bands

Each ODU is designed to operate over a predefined frequency sub-band. For example 21.2 – 23.6GHz for a 23GHz system, 17.7 – 19.7GHz for a 18GHz system and 24.5 – 26.5GHz for a 26GHz system as for ODUs.    The sub-band is set in hardware (filters, diplexer) at time of manufacture and cannot be changed in the field.

1+0, 1+1, 2+0 Deployments

Microwave ODUs can be deployed in various configurations.

Microwave ODU in 1+0 Configuration with Antenna
Microwave ODU in 1+0 Configuration with Antenna

The most common is 1+0 which has a single ODU, generally connected directly to the microwave antenna.  1+0 means “unprotected” in that there is no resilience or backup equipment or path.




Two Microwave ODUs in 1+1 HSB or 2+0 configuration with Coupler and Antenna
Two Microwave ODUs in 1+1 HSB or 2+0 configuration with Coupler and Antenna

For resilient networks there are several different configurations.  1+1 in “Hot Standby” is common and typically has a pair of ODUs (one active, one standby) connected via a Microwave Coupler to the antenna.  There is typically a 3dB or 6dB loss in the coupler which splits the power either equally or unequally between the main and standby path.

Other resilient configurations are 1+1 SD (Space Diversity, using separate antennas, one ODU on each) and 1+1 FD (Frequency Diversity)

The other non-resilient configuration is 2+0 which has two ODUs connected to a single antenna via a coupler.  The hardware configuration is identical to 1+1 FD, but the ODUs carry separate signals to increase the overall capacity.

Grounding & Surge Protection

Suitable ground wire should be connected to the ODU ground lug to an appropriate ground point on the antenna mounting or tower for lightning protection.  This grounding is essential to avoid damage due to electrical storms.

In-line Surge Suppressors are used to protect the ODU and IDU from surges that could travel down the cable in the case of extreme surges caused by lightning

The specification of a typical Microwave ODU is shown below.

Typical ODU Features and Specifications:

  • 4-42GHz frequency bands available
  • Fully synthesized design
  • 3.5-56MHz RF channel bandwidths
  • Supports QPSK and 16 to 1024 QAM.  Some ODUs may support 2048QAM
  • Standard and high power options
  • High MTBF, greater than 92.000 hours
  • Software controlled ODU functions
  • Designed to meet FCC, ETSI and CE safety and emission standards
  • Supports popular ITU-R standards and frequency recommendations
  • Software configurable microcontroller for ODU monitor and control settings
  • Low noise figure, low phase noise and high linearity
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Very high frequency stability +/-2.5 ppm
  • Wide operating temperature range: -40°C to +65°C

For Further information

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Rain Fade on Microwave Links

Rain Fade on Microwave Links

Microwave Link Rain FadeRain fade refers primarily to the absorption of a microwave radio frequency (RF) signal by atmospheric rain, snow or ice, and losses which are especially prevalent at frequencies above 11 GHz. It also refers to the degradation of a signal caused by the electromagnetic interference of the leading edge of a storm front. Rain fade can be caused by precipitation at the uplink or downlink location. However, it does not need to be raining at a location for it to be affected by rain fade, as the signal may pass through precipitation many miles away, especially if the satellite dish has a low look angle. From 5 to 20 percent of rain fade or satellite signal attenuation may also be caused by rain, snow or ice on the uplink or downlink antenna reflector, radome or feed horn. Rain fade is not limited to satellite uplinks or downlinks, it also can affect terrestrial point to point microwave links (those on the earth’s surface).

Possible ways to overcome the effects of rain fade are site diversity, uplink power control, variable rate encoding, receiving antennas larger (i.e. higher gain) than the required size for normal weather conditions, and hydrophobic coatings.

Two models are generally used for Rain modelling: Crane and ITU.  The ITU model is generally preferred by microwave planners.  A global map of Rain distribution according to the ITU model is shown below:

Global ITU Rain Fade Map for Microwave Link Availability Planning
Global ITU Rain Fade Map for Microwave Link Availability Planning

Used in conjunction with appropriate planning tools, this data can be used to predict the expected Operational Availability (in %) of a microwave link.  Useful Operational Availability figures typically vary from 99.9% (“three nines”) to 99.999%  (“five nines”), and are a function of the overall link budget including frequency band, antenna sizes, modulation, receiver sensitivity and other factors.

Another useful Rain Fade map is shown here, showing the 0.01% annual rainfall exceedance rate:

CableFree ITU-R Rain Fade Map - Global for 0.01% annual rainfall exceedance rate
CableFree ITU-R Rain Fade Map – Global for 0.01% annual rainfall exceedance rate

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Key technologies in a modern Microwave Network

Key technologies used in modern Microwave Networks  – what to look out for:

Build faster, more efficient microwave networks

Critical features of a modern microwave network product range let you deliver more data with superior performance while using less spectrum and equipment. These features include:

  • Complete range of low cost to high end modular solutions
  • Efficient Modulation schemes of up to 256QAM, 512QAM, 1024QAM, 2048QAM and 4096QAM
  • Automatic Transmit Power Control (ATPC)
  • Advanced packet compression techniques that increase channel capacity by up to 300%
  • Scalable multichannel microwave links that support increased capacity and reliability
  • Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) that extends across multiple channels to sustain maximum performance in all environments
  • Software Defined Radio (SDR) Microwave Technology

Boost capacity and reliability with advanced networking

With a modern microwave network, you should expect advanced Carrier Ethernet networking capabilities that can double network capacity while delivering high availability. These capabilities include:

  • Unique ring and mesh topology configurations that can double network capacity, improve reliability and reduce network costs
  • Integrated IP-microwave solutions that reduce space and power consumption
  • The ability to support TDM, Ethernet and IP services on a single packet-based network
Complete Microwave Network
Complete Microwave Network

Simplify operations with an end-to-end approach

Expect to see: a complete family of microwave solutions that addresses all network sizes and locations including tail, hub and backbone. With an approach that uses common equipment and software across all sites, vendors should help you streamline management processes and reduce TCO. Features offered:

  • Common radio transceivers that reduce the need for spares across all applications
  • A flexible range of Indoor Units (IDUs) and Outdoor Units (ODUs) to reduce space and power consumption
  • Common software and network management that simplify operations across the network