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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CableFree FOR3 Microwave Links Deployed in Middle East

CableFree Full Outdoor Radio: Microwave Links Installed in the Middle East

CableFree FOR3 Microwave Installed in the Middle East
CableFree FOR3 Microwave Installed in the Middle East

CableFree 11GHz FOR3 Microwave Link installed in the Middle East. Up to 891Mbps full duplex. Rugged, Reliable, High Performance. 60cm antennas shown.
Photo shows the Outdoor Unit (Full Outdoor Radio) mounted to a 60cm antenna.

The link is operating over several km for an “E-Government” project, connecting major Government sites with high speed data services.

CableFree FOR3 has been deployed extensively in the region, with proven high reliability in high temperatures, humidity, dust, and other weather effects typical.

Vendor Website with Product Data:
www.cablefree.net/for3

CableFree FOR3 is a Full Outdoor Radio for Zero-Footprint deployment, eliminating requirement for indoor locations or rack space. The radio is typically mounted on roof-top or tower location with antenna, with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) connection to the radio using a single Cat5/e/6 cable. An optional SFP optical fibre interface is available for sites where long cable runs or electrical isolation to the radio is required.

Radio supports up to 1024QAM modulation,with upgrades to 2048QAM and 4096QAM will be supported in future versions.

For Further Information

For More Information on Microwave Planning, Please Contact Us

OFCOM Channel Plans for 52GHz and 55GHz

OFCOM Channel Plans for 52GHz and 55GHz

Here is a chart showing channel plans for the UK

OFCOM - 52GHz 55GHz
OFCOM – 52GHz 55GHz

Uses & Applications

52GHz and 55GHz bands are used for Point to Point (P2P) Microwave Radio Links

Sources of Data and Graphics

All contents (C) OFCOM and taken from:

OfW48 UK Frequency Allocations for Fixed (Point-to-Point) Wireless Services and Scanning Telemetry This document shows the current bands managed by Ofcom that are available for fixed terrestrial (point to point) links and scanning telemetry in the UK.

Technical regulations

The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive
99/5/EC (R&TTED) has been implemented in ‘The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000, Statutory
Instrument (SI) 730. In accordance with Articles 4.1 and 7.2 of the R&TTED
the:
• IR2000: The UK Interface Requirement 2000 contains the requirements for the licensing and use of fixed (point-to-point) wireless services in the UK.
• IR2037: The UK Interface Requirement 2037 applies for scanning telemetry services.
• IR2078: The UK Interface Requirement 2078 applies for the 60 GHz band

Notes specific to the frequency charts

The first column describes each available frequency band, represented by a diagram (not to scale). The frequency band limits are listed below the diagram; frequencies below 10 GHz are represented in MHz, while those above 10 GHz are in GHz. The width of each guard band is shown above the diagram, and is always specified in MHz.
The channel arrangements in some bands are staggered, so that the width and position of the guard band vary for different channel spacings. In these cases, a table underneath gives details of the guard bands for different spacings (with all frequencies in MHz).
The first column also includes the title of the relevant international recommendations for each band, produced by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) or the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). CEPT recommendations are available at http://www.cept.org/ecc/ and ITU Recommendations at http://www.itu.int.
The final column contains the channel spacing for duplex operation in each frequency band except for bands above 60 GHz. Details of standard systems assigned in the UK are shown in the relevant technical frequency assignment criteria.

For Further Information

For More Information on Microwave Planning, Please Contact Us

OFCOM Channel Plans for 31GHz and 38GHz

OFCOM Channel Plans for 31GHz and 38GHz

Here is a chart showing channel plans for the UK

OFCOM - 31GHz 38GHz
OFCOM – 31GHz 38GHz

Uses & Applications

31GHz and 38GHz bands are used for Point to Point (P2P) Microwave Radio Links

Sources of Data and Graphics

All contents (C) OFCOM and taken from:

OfW48 UK Frequency Allocations for Fixed (Point-to-Point) Wireless Services and Scanning Telemetry This document shows the current bands managed by Ofcom that are available for fixed terrestrial (point to point) links and scanning telemetry in the UK.

Technical regulations

The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive
99/5/EC (R&TTED) has been implemented in ‘The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000, Statutory
Instrument (SI) 730. In accordance with Articles 4.1 and 7.2 of the R&TTED
the:
• IR2000: The UK Interface Requirement 2000 contains the requirements for the licensing and use of fixed (point-to-point) wireless services in the UK.
• IR2037: The UK Interface Requirement 2037 applies for scanning telemetry services.
• IR2078: The UK Interface Requirement 2078 applies for the 60 GHz band

Notes specific to the frequency charts

The first column describes each available frequency band, represented by a diagram (not to scale). The frequency band limits are listed below the diagram; frequencies below 10 GHz are represented in MHz, while those above 10 GHz are in GHz. The width of each guard band is shown above the diagram, and is always specified in MHz.
The channel arrangements in some bands are staggered, so that the width and position of the guard band vary for different channel spacings. In these cases, a table underneath gives details of the guard bands for different spacings (with all frequencies in MHz).
The first column also includes the title of the relevant international recommendations for each band, produced by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) or the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). CEPT recommendations are available at http://www.cept.org/ecc/ and ITU Recommendations at http://www.itu.int.
The final column contains the channel spacing for duplex operation in each frequency band except for bands above 60 GHz. Details of standard systems assigned in the UK are shown in the relevant technical frequency assignment criteria.

For Further Information

For More Information on Microwave Planning, Please Contact Us

OFCOM Channel Plans Upper 6GHz

OFCOM Channel Plans for Upper 6GHz (U6)

Here is a chart showing channel plans for the UK

OFCOM - Upper 6GHz
OFCOM – Upper 6GHz

The Upper 6GHz Band is defined as follows:

Standards: CEPT/ERC/REC 14-02 E
ITU-R F.384-10
Frequency Range: 6425 – 7125 MHz
Total Width of Band: 700MHz
Channel Plan FDD (Frequency Division Duplex)
Channel Widths & Spacing 20, 30, 40, 60MHz
Lower Sub-Band 6425-6760MHz (335MHz)
Upper Sub-Band 6780-7125MHz (345MHz)
T-R Spacings (Transmit to Receive) 340MHz

Uses & Applications

Upper 6GHz bands are used for Point to Point (P2P) Microwave Radio Links

Sources of Data and Graphics

All contents (C) OFCOM and taken from:

OfW48 UK Frequency Allocations for Fixed (Point-to-Point) Wireless Services and Scanning Telemetry This document shows the current bands managed by Ofcom that are available for fixed terrestrial (point to point) links and scanning telemetry in the UK.

Technical regulations

The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive
99/5/EC (R&TTED) has been implemented in ‘The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations 2000, Statutory
Instrument (SI) 730. In accordance with Articles 4.1 and 7.2 of the R&TTED
the:
• IR2000: The UK Interface Requirement 2000 contains the requirements for the licensing and use of fixed (point-to-point) wireless services in the UK.
• IR2037: The UK Interface Requirement 2037 applies for scanning telemetry services.
• IR2078: The UK Interface Requirement 2078 applies for the 60 GHz band

Notes specific to the frequency charts

The first column describes each available frequency band, represented by a diagram (not to scale). The frequency band limits are listed below the diagram; frequencies below 10 GHz are represented in MHz, while those above 10 GHz are in GHz. The width of each guard band is shown above the diagram, and is always specified in MHz.
The channel arrangements in some bands are staggered, so that the width and position of the guard band vary for different channel spacings. In these cases, a table underneath gives details of the guard bands for different spacings (with all frequencies in MHz).
The first column also includes the title of the relevant international recommendations for each band, produced by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) or the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). CEPT recommendations are available at http://www.cept.org/ecc/ and ITU Recommendations at http://www.itu.int.
The final column contains the channel spacing for duplex operation in each frequency band except for bands above 60 GHz. Details of standard systems assigned in the UK are shown in the relevant technical frequency assignment criteria.

For Further Information

For More Information on Microwave Planning, Please Contact Us

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

For More Information about Microwave ODUs, we will be delighted to answer your questions. Please Contact Us

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

For more information on this topic, please contact us

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