Sub 6 Unlicensed & Licensed

What does Sub 6GHz Licensed and Unlicensed mean?

Several vendors and operators use this term: Find out what “Sub 6” means in practice.

Sub 6GHz Unlicensed & Licensed Links
Sub 6GHz Unlicensed & Licensed Links

What is Sub 6 ?

“Sub 6” means frequencies below 6GHz.   Though frequencies from 1GHz up to 6GHz are still classified as microwave frequencies, they are often referred to “radio links”, “microwave links”, “microwave radio links” with these terms used interchangeably.

Why Consider Sub 6GHz?

Typically links below 6GHz are used for longer point-to-point links, or point-to-multipoint links for last-mile access to customers.  Frequencies below 6GHz do not suffer significant rain fade.  In addition, these lower frequencies can be used for Non-Line-of-Sight Links, in cases where there is no direct Line of Sight between the locations that require connection.  The radio propagation characteristics of lower-frequency bands make them ideal for urban areas where radio signals may reflect from buildings and other man-made objects, and can – within limitations – penetrate walls, brickwork and concrete structures.

What does Unlicensed and Licensed mean?

The term Unlicensed in radio technology includes commonly used bands which can be used in many countries without need for a frequency license, such as 2.4GHz and 5.x GHz bands including 5.2GHz, 5.4GHz and 5.8GHz.  Please note that in a few countries these frequencies still require licenses, or are not usable by private users.
Unlicensed frequencies have the benefit of not requiring a license to operate (typically, licenses have an annual fee, and are issued by a national regulator or state owned telecom operator).  However, unlicensed links can be interfered with by other users, which can cause reduced throughput or complete link outage.  Such interference is generally heavier in high density population areas and cities, where 100’s or 1000’s of radios may be competing for the same spectrum in a given region.

Conversely, licensed operation means that the equipment user has to obtain a frequency license before using the band.  This can be available on a per-link basis, in which case the regulator allocates specific frequencies for a particular link, holding a central database of all links, or in the case of mobile operator networks, a country-wide license within which the operator self-coordinates the allocation of frequencies and coverage.
The lack of predictability in unlicensed bands is the main reason that operators prefer licensed bands for operation, despite the additional costs of licenses required to operate.

Single Carrier and OFDM Modulation

In the “Sub-6” bands 1-6GHz, a range of Single Carrier, OFDM and OFDM-A technology solutions are available.  OFDM and OFDM-A use multiple subcarriers, and can use the properties of this modulation to overcome multipath fading and reflections from hard surfaces present in dense city areas.  Conversely, Single Carrier radios use dense modulation with high symbol rates on a single radio carrier.  This can give high spectral efficiency and data rates, but limited ability to cope with reflected signals, and hence worse performance in non-LOS situations.

Line of Sight, Non-Line-of-Sight, Near-Line-of-Sight and Radio Propagation

OFDM modulation is generally used in Sub-6 radios and is more suitable to rapidly fading and reflected signals, hence for mobility and non-line-of-sight (non-LOS, NLOS, Near-LOS, nLOS) applications.  Generally, the lower the frequency band, the better non-LOS characteristics it has, improving range and in-building coverage and penetration through windows, walls, brickwork and stone.

4G & 5G Mobile and Fixed Networks

4G 5G Wireless Network Sub-6GHz
4G & 5G Wireless Networks operate in Sub-6GHz bands

Both 4G and 5G technologies defined by the 3GPP use OFDM and OFDM-A technology in the sub-6GHz bands to deliver high speed fixed and mobile data services.  These classify as “sub 6” but are rarely referred to as such.  MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology is added on top of OFDM to increase throughput still higher.  More recently, 5G includes “millimeter wave” bands above 20GHz to add still higher speed services and overcome congestion in lower frequency bands.  It is envisaged that users could roam seamlessly between regions with “Sub 6” and “millimeter wave” coverage with suitable handsets or terminal devices.

Managing the Finite Spectrum Available in 1-6GHz

An obvious downside of Sub-6GHz is the limited spectrum available.  There is just 5GHz of spectrum available between 1-6GHz which has to be allocated between multiple applications for Telecom Operators, Government and Private networks, utilising signals that can travel 10-50km or more and therefore potentially interfering with each other if inadequately managed.  Though most applications are terrestrial, the bands include space for ground-satellite services which again have to avoid interference.  Increasingly, frequency regulation is a global issue with international roaming, and huge spectrum demands and pressure on spectrum from Mobile Network Operators who face ever increasing demands for mobile data users worldwide.  To meet this demand, spectrum is continually re-farmed and re-allocated between older 2G and 3G services to 4G and 5G services which are capable of delivering higher capacity services.  Legacy frequency allocations to Government and Military applications are often released for lease to such operators also.

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Microwave Waveguide Flange

Introduction to Microwave Waveguide Flanges

A waveguide flange is a connector for joining sections of waveguide, and is essentially the same as a pipe flange—a waveguide, in the context of this article, being a hollow metal conduit for microwave energy. The connecting face of the flange is either square, circular or (particularly for large or reduced-height rectangular waveguides), rectangular. The connection between a pair of flanges is usually made with four or more bolts, though alternative mechanisms, such as a threaded collar, may be used where there is a need for rapid assembly and disassembly. Dowel pins are sometimes used in addition to bolts, to ensure accurate alignment, particularly for very small waveguides where higher accuracy is required for higher frequencies.

Key features of a waveguide join are; whether or not it is air-tight, allowing the waveguide to be pressurized, and whether it is a contact or a choke connection. This leads to three sorts of flange for each size of rectangular waveguide.

For rectangular waveguides there exist a number of competing standard flanges which are not entirely mutually compatible. Standard flange designs also exist for double-ridge, reduced-height, square and circular waveguides.

Microwave Waveguide Flange IEC EIA
EIA and IEC Microwave Waveguide Flange versions

Unpressurised and Pressurised Waveguide Flanges

The atmosphere within waveguide assemblies is often pressurized, either to prevent the ingress of moisture, or to raise the breakdown voltage in the guide and hence increase the power that it can carry. Pressurization requires that all joints in the waveguide be airtight. This is usually achieved by means of a rubber O-ring seated in a groove in the face of at least one of flanges forming each join. Gasket, gasket/cover or pressurizable flanges (such as that on the right of figure 2), are identifiable by the single circular groove which accommodates the O-ring. It is only necessary for one of the flanges in each pressurizable connection to be of this type; the other may have a plain flat face (like that in figure 1). This ungrooved type is known as a cover, plain or unpressurizable flange.

It is also possible to form air-tight seal between a pair of otherwise unpressurizable flanges using a flat gasket made out of a special electrically conductive elastomer. Two plain cover flanges may be mated without such a gasket, but the connection is then not pressurizable.

Electrical continuity

Electric current flows on the inside surface of the waveguides, and must cross the join between them if microwave power is to pass through the connection without reflection or loss.

Microwave Flange Standards

IEC

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard IEC 60154 describes flanges for square and circular waveguides, as well as for what it refers to as flat, medium-flat, and ordinary rectangular guides.  IEC flanges are identified by an alphanumeric code consisting of; the letter U, P or C for Unpressurizable (plain cover), Pressurizable (with a gasket groove) and Choke (with both choke gasket grooves); a second letter, indicating the shape and other details of the flange and finally the IEC identifier for the waveguide. For standard rectangular waveguide the second letter is A to E, where A and C are round flanges, B is square and D and E are rectangular. So for example UBR220 is a square plain cover flange for R220 waveguide (that is, for WG20, WR42), PDR84 is a rectangular gasket flange for R84 waveguide (WG15, WR112) and CAR70 is a round choke flange for R70 waveguide (WG14, WR137).

MIL-Spec

MIL-DTL-3922 is a United States Military Standard giving detailed descriptions of choke, gasket/cover and cover flanges for rectangular waveguide. MIL_DTL-39000/3 describes flanges for double-ridge waveguide, and formerly also for single-ridge guide.  MIL-Spec flanges have designations of the form UG-xxxx/U where the x’s represent a variable-length catalogue number, not in itself containing any information about the flange.

EIA

The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) is the body that defined the WR designations for standard rectangular waveguides. EIA flanges are designated CMR (for Connector, Miniature, Rectangular waveguide) or CPR (Connector, Pressurizable, Rectangular waveguide) followed by the EIA number (WR number) for the relevant waveguide. So for example, CPR112 is a gasket flange for waveguide WR112 (WG15).

RCSC

The Radio Components Standardization Committee (RCSC) is the body that originated the WG designations for standard rectangular waveguides. It also defined standard choke and cover flanges with identifiers of the form 5985-99-xxx-xxxx where the x’s represent a catalogue number, not in itself containing any information about the flange.

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

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V-Band 60GHz Millimeter Wave MMW Technology

Multi-Gigabit Links using V-Band 60GHz Millimeter Wave MMW Technology

So-called “V-Band” refers to high frequency microwave signals in the Millimeter Wave radio bands which enable high capacity wireless communications.  The band is useful for moderate distances up to around 1km with clear “line of sight”, and for short-range mobile devices.  In many countries, V-band is “Unlicensed” (license free) which encourages widespread use.

What is 60GHz V-band technology?

The V band (“vee-band”) is a standard designation by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for a band of frequencies in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from 40 to 75 gigahertz (GHz).The V band is not heavily used, except for millimeter wave radar research and other kinds of scientific research. It should not be confused with the 600–1000 MHz range of Band-V (band-five) of the UHF frequency range.

CableFree V-Band 60GHz MMW Link
CableFree V-Band 60GHz MMW Link with High Gain parabolic antenna

The V band is also used for high capacity terrestrial millimeter wave communications systems. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission has allocated the frequency band from 57 to 71 GHz for unlicensed wireless systems. These systems are primarily used for high capacity, short distance (less than 1 mile) communications. In addition, frequencies at 70, 80, and 90 GHz have been allocated as “lightly licensed” bands for multi-gigabit wireless communications. All communications links in the V band require unobstructed line of sight between the transmit and receive point, and rain fade must be taken into account when performing link budget analysis.

Applications for 60GHz V-band

Very short range Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi standard IEEE 802.11ad utilizes the 60 GHz (EHF microwave) spectrum with data transfer rates of up to 7 Gbit/s for very short ranges of up to 10 metres (33 ft).  Also the newer IEEE 802.11ay uses the same band.  Where 802.11ad uses a maximum of 2.16 GHz bandwidth, 802.11ay bonds four of those channels together for a maximum bandwidth of 8.64 GHz. MIMO is also added with a maximum of 4 streams. The link-rate per stream is 44Gbit/s, with four streams this goes up to 176Gbit/s. Higher order modulation is also added, probably up to 256-QAM.

Mobile backhaul

As mobile operators need more and more bandwidth, they are turning to new frequency bands to lower their wireless backhaul costs. Both license-exempt V band spectrum (57-71 GHz) and E band spectrum (71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 92-95 GHz) have clear technological and economic advantages. The 27 GHz allocated in these bands allows multi-Gigabit per second capacities far exceeding the 6-38 GHz bandwidth-limited frequencies.

In the V band and E band spectrum, wireless systems can utilize the significantly larger allocated spectrum and channels to deliver multi-Gigabit data rates. This enables a simple, robust, and low cost modem and radio design. Thus, V-Band and E-Band, millimeter-wave wireless systems provide significant cost advantages over 6-38 GHz wireless systems – allowing scaling capacity to Gigabit capacities, without additional radio equipment and licensing fees.

Wireless broadband

Internet service providers are looking for ways to expand gigabit high-speed services to their customers. These can be achieved through fiber to the premises broadband network architecture, or a more affordable alternative using fixed wireless in the last mile in combination with the fiber networks in the middle mile in order to reduce the costs of trenching fiber optic cables to the users. In the United States, V band is unlicensed. This makes V band an appealing choice to be used as fixed wireless access for gigabit services to connect to homes and businesses.

Satellite constellations

As of March 2017, several US companies—Boeing, SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat, O3b Networks and Theia Holdings—have each filed with the US regulatory authorities “plans to field constellations of V-band satellites in non-geosynchronous orbits to provide communications services,” an electromagnetic spectrum that had not previously been “heavily employed for commercial communications services.”

V-Band Regulations and Licensing

In many countries, V-band is “Unlicensed” (license free) which encourages widespread use.  A few countries retain 60GHz for licensed or defence applications.  The specific frequencies which are allowed to be used can vary between different countries.

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Point to Point Microwave Link

Wireless Point-to-Point Microwave Bridge Links

Microwave Point to Point can be tailored to suit the needs and requirements of all applications

CableFree FOR3 Point to Point Microwave P2P PTP Installed in the Middle East
CableFree FOR3 Microwave P2P link Installed in the Middle East

Point to Point links are transparent, acting as an extension of the Ethernet backbone or segment. Licensed Microwave is fully compatible with the Ethernet standard, and supports all Ethernet functionality and applications.

Point to Point Microwave has been the connectivity choice for Telecom carriers, corporate organisations and Government authorities for many of years. Point to Point Radio offers high speeds, high availability over large connection distances, it can be relied upon to carry voice and data traffic in a number of bandwidth-intensive applications, such as:

  • Connecting locations that are unavailable or in poor Broadband areas
  • Private data Networks (WANs, LANs, etc.)
  • Utility Networks (Railways, Pipelines, etc.)
  • Last Mile access for Corporate, SMEs and Local Government
  • Connecting buildings and facilities over large distances

Microwave P2P – Ideal replacement for Fibre Optics and Leased Lines

CableFree Microwave Link using 30cm antenna benefits from ACM giving longer reach and higher availability
CableFree Microwave Link using 30cm antenna benefits from ACM giving longer reach and higher availability

Point to point wireless is the ideal alternative for business communication between two buildings or sites where wired connection is either impossible, costly or impractical. Point to point Ethernet bridge link facilitates a wireless data connection between two or more networks or buildings across distances up to 100 Kilometres and at speeds up to 1Gbps.

Point to point wireless links are an excellent alternative to fibre optics and leased lines, providing businesses with fibre-like speeds for high-speed data, voice and video transfer between business locations.

Asking an expert team to assist with your point to point wireless requirement will ensure you get a well-designed Microwave Link solution and expertise to help you and your business to benefit from high-capacity, low-latency, long distance wireless data transfer. Quality design, installation and support teams are always on-hand to ensure that your project is delivered on time and to the highest standards.

Long Distance Point to Point WiFi

WiFi is sometimes used for outdoor links – with directional antennas – despite the WiFi radio protocol not being optimised for long distance links.  Instead, customised airside protocols on dedicated outdoor radios are far better for security, throughput and link stability.

Point to Point Ethernet bridge

CableFree Microwave Point to Point Radio Links P2P PTP
CableFree Microwave Point to Point Radio Links

A point to point Ethernet bridge link can benefit your business through the elimination of leasing lines or subscription based systems with no loss in performance. Providing highly reliable connections, point to point wireless offers a far lower total cost of ownership and has the versatility of deployment within rural, metropolitan and residential environments.

Whether you are looking to achieve high-speed business networking or to provide wireless backhaul for CCTV connectivity, point to point bridges are the best option.

Where line-of-sight (LOS) exists between two points, point to point bridge pairs can be set-up and installed with the minimum of disruption to your business and can usually be completed within a single day. The ease of install and the resilience to harsh weather conditions make point to point bridge links a viable fibre alternative.

Operating in both licensed and unlicensed spectrums, our point to point solutions ensure that your business has the network uptime and performance for mission-critical data transfer – our links offer 99.999% uptime.

Broadcasting, construction or military environments often require temporary wireless connections. The simplicity of point to point WiFi makes it the perfect solution where temporary wireless connection is required between two points.

Licensed or Unlicensed Point to Point Microwave Links

When selecting the correct point to point wireless link for your business, there are a number of important decisions to be made to ensure that the final outcome meets the initial expectations. Point to point microwave links can be either licenced or unlicensed, both of which have a specific set of capabilities, advantages and disadvantages, the main one being their relative susceptibility to interference-free operation.

For businesses seeking a wireless backhaul which will serve as a direct replacement for leased lines, licensed microwave links – which operate within the ‘licensed’ 4-42GHz bands, – will provide superior bandwidth availability, speed and the interference protection necessary.

Although offering no guaranteed interference protection, unlicensed microwave links which operate in the ‘unlicensed’ frequency bands, either typically in 2.4 and 5GHz bands, in some regions 17GHz and 24GHz, and 58GHz/60GHz (V-band), can provide a more cost effective option as they eliminate any additional costs and can be rapidly deployed.

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WR3 | WG32 | R2600 Waveguide

WR3 | WG32 | R2600 Waveguide Sizes

WR3 | WG32 | R2600 Rectangular Waveguide Size

  • EIA Standard (WR):WR3
  • RSCS Standard (British Military):WG32
  • IEC Standard:R2600

WR3 Specifications

  • Recommended Frequency Band:220 to 330 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Lowest Order Mode:173.571 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Upper Mode:347.143 GHz
  • Dimension:0.034 Inches [0.8636 mm] x 0.017 Inches [0.4318 mm]

 

Microwave Waveguide WR3
Microwave Waveguide

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

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WR4 | WG31 | R2200 Waveguide

WR4 | WG31 | R2200 – Rectangular Waveguide Size

WR4 | WG31 | R2200 Waveguide Size

  • EIA Standard:WR4
  • RSCS Standard (British Military):WG31
  • IEC Standard:R2200

WR4 Specifications

  • Recommended Frequency Band:172 to 260 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Lowest Order Mode:137.243 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Upper Mode:274.485 GHz
  • Dimension:0.043 Inches [1.0922 mm] x 0.0215 Inches [0.5461 mm]

 

Microwave Waveguide WR2300
Microwave Waveguide

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

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WR5 | WG30 | R1800 Waveguide

WR5 | WG30 | R1800 – Rectangular Waveguide Size

WR5 | WG30 | R1800 Waveguide Size

  • EIA Standard:WR5
  • RSCS Standard (British Military):WG30
  • IEC Standard:R1800

WR5 Specifications

  • Recommended Frequency Band:140 to 220 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Lowest Order Mode:115.714 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Upper Mode:231.429 GHz
  • Dimension:0.051 Inches [1.2954 mm] x 0.0255 Inches [0.6477 mm]

 

Microwave Waveguide WR2300
Microwave Waveguide

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

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WR6 | WG29 | R1400 Waveguide

WR6 | WG29 | R1400 – Rectangular Waveguide Size

WR6 | WG29 | R1400 Waveguide Size

  • EIA Standard:WR6
  • RSCS Standard (British Military):WG29
  • IEC Standard:R1400

WR6 Specifications

  • Recommended Frequency Band:110 to 170 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Lowest Order Mode:90.791 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Upper Mode:181.583 GHz
  • Dimension:0.065 Inches [1.651 mm] x 0.0325 Inches [0.8255 mm]

 

Microwave Waveguide WR2300
Microwave Waveguide

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

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WR8 | WG28 | R1200 Waveguide

WR8 | WG28 | R1200 Rectangular Waveguide Size

WR8 | WG28 | R1200 Waveguide Size

  • EIA Standard (British Military):WR8
  • RSCS Standard:WG28
  • IEC Standard:R1200

WR8 Specifications

  • Recommended Frequency Band:90 to 140 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Lowest Order Mode:73.768 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Upper Mode:147.536 GHz
  • Dimension:0.08 Inches [2.032 mm] x 0.04 Inches [1.016 mm]

 

Microwave Waveguide WR2300
Microwave Waveguide

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

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WR10 | WG27 | R900 Waveguide

WR10 | WG27 | R900 – Rectangular Waveguide Size

WR10 | WG27 | R900 Waveguide Size

  • EIA Standard:WR10
  • RSCS Standard (British Military):WG27
  • IEC Standard:R900

WR10 Specifications

  • Recommended Frequency Band:75 to 110 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Lowest Order Mode:59.015 GHz
  • Cutoff Frequency of Upper Mode:118.03 GHz
  • Dimension:0.1 Inches [2.54 mm] x 0.05 Inches [1.27 mm]

Commonly Used for Millimeter Wave (MMW) Link Bands

  • E-Band (71-76GHz and 81-86GHz): 70GHz, 80GHz
Microwave Waveguide WR10
Microwave Waveguide

What is a Waveguide?

A waveguide is an electromagnetic feed line that is used for high frequency signals. Waveguides conduct microwave energy at lower loss than coaxial cables and are used in microwave communications, radars and other high frequency applications.

The waveguide must have a certain minimum cross section, relative to the wavelength of the signal to function properly. If wavelength of the signal is too long (Frequency is too low) when compared to the cross section of the waveguide, the electromagnetic fields cannot propagate. The lowest frequency range at which a waveguide will operate is where the cross section is large enough to fit one complete wavelength of the signal.

For Further Information

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