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PTP Wireless WAN Blog

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Talk to Me if You Need Convincing
David Theodore, Pres. & Wireless WAN Pioneer

If you're in the market for a wireless link to move serious data (backhaul) to a remote building or Internet provider, but you're not convinced that wireless is the way to go, then we need to talk. I mean it, email me.

I'll share with you what I know after being in every part of the microwave business since the late 80's, when I introduced the world's first wireless Ethernet solution at Harvard University. (I was young then.) I'll tell you that we've installed hundreds of microwave links and that it's not unusual for them to work for 8-10 years - straight. Never once failing. I've also never seen a primary and backup link go down at the same time - except in one isolated case because of a leap year bug. (You can bet that that's never happening again.)

More? We don't have a single customer that has ever had their link hacked into. We don't have one that suffers weather related outages. We haven't had an antenna hit by lightning in more than 20-years, and none that has ever been vandalized. I also know of only one case where someone had his link blocked by new building construction. (We got to sell a second link to re-route the path ;-).

Oh, you bet that I've heard bad stories about microwave - there are bad examples of everything in life, but there are thousands more stories of telcos going down and of vandals cutting cable, trucks downing phone poles, rats chewing through fiber, underground gas explosions (more on that later)... Carriers don't publicize their outages, but no doubt you have your own stories to tell. But as far as microwave goes, I will ask you to suspend your disbelief, buy a link from me and then tell me (and your colleagues) how much you like it a year later, after it hasn't so much as hiccuped.

If you're not emailing me, then I'll continue here with a few more points...

It stands to reason that microwave leaves fiber in the dust when it comes to cost and delivery, but did you know that it can also beat fiber's latency time? You may have read something of the ultra low latency wireless network (private licensed microwave) that links the Chicago and NY Stock Exchanges.

It makes sense to ask if point to point wireless (microwave) may be effected by atmospheric disturbences such as sunspots (no), but those are as rare as leprechauns and fewer people wonder how safe their cable is under ground. Fiber isn't bulletproof just because it's buried. Have you seen a photo of what's under our city streets?

The ground isn't safe, and I'm not talking about sinkholes. Ancient cast iron gas pipes, many a century old, lay cracking under big city streets, leaking 10% of all gas into the soil and resulting in an explosion somewhere, every single day. (Read my blog for more on that.) Underground cabling isn't bulletproof, and it's no safer when it's strung between telephone poles. That's precisely why microwave makes the perfect backup, though "mixed media backup" seems to have slipped some from the IT / WAN lexicon.)

That said, microwave is only as good as the implementation, and various factors are involved. Things like distance and topography, weather, antenna characteristics and frequency congestion - and a good engineer will factor it all in. That's why the experience and diligence of your systems integrator means everything, and that's where we come in.

WHY TRUST ME?  I literally wrote the book on wireless Ethernet, founding Microwave Bypass in the 1980s and launching the world's first solution (802.3 compliant). Dubbed the "Etherwave Transceiver", it formed the core of the New England Internet and connected world leaders in technology, health care and education. Later, we partnered with Cisco to design the first full-duplex interface and brought Motorola into the business. Our groundbreaking work continues to this day, and if I recommend a radio it's because I've installed it myself and not because we're running a special. If you have a project in mind or some concern, or you just want a straight answer, then email me.

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Microwave is a mature technology with a long pedigree, and with the advent of digital radios and today's commoditization, most of the top radios are functionally interchangeable. They're all meeting the same high end FCC specs, and differences between them are relative shades here or there, but hardly as consequential as who you trust with your path engineering, installation and support. Microwave is an engineered solution and the more knowledgeable and experienced your vendor, the better the results.

Let me give you a quick overview. For starters, if you're looking at point-to-point wireless, then you'll be choosing between two types of "radios". One runs in publicly shared frequency bands (e.g., 2.4 & 5 GHz) and is therefore "license exempt".  You can take it out of the box, set it on your roof and use it the same day. The other uses specially coordinated and licensed FCC frequencies, and there you're waiting 45-60 days for (guaranteed) approval. The wait is worth it though, as I'll explain later.

Is it "wireless" or "microwave"? Of course every radio is "wireless", but to be more specific, ones that transmit between 2 and 38GHz run in the microwave portion of the frequency spectrum and so they're called "microwave". Most point-to-point wireless is "microwave", but when you get to the higher frequencies, the 60-80GHz range, you're in the "millimeter wave" part of the frequency spectrum and those are called "E-band" radios.

What you need to know is that both radio types, licensed and unlicensed, are equally available to you, however there are huge differences between the two - like bandwidth and latency, even cost and implementation time. The type of radio you go with will have everything to do with the amount of bandwidth you need (licensed microwave gives you more), the distance between your sites and whether we need to worry against interference, say in a congested metropolitan area. At Meridian, we're wedded to best solutions, not vendors, and we also know that even the most inspired product selection is no guarantee of performance.

Point-to-point wireless is an engineered solution with exacting tolerances, and so it takes good path engineering and a solid installation to reap the full benefits of any wireless product.  Microwave manufacturers give you their specs from a lab bench, but our job is to factor in your particular environment, accounting for varying terrain, distance and weather, and making sure that the radio performs as well for you as it does on the lab bench.

Our experience and resourcefulness is unmatched and so whether you lease or buy your bandwidth, we'll deliver it on schedule, for a convenient, quality installation that stands the test of time. If you're looking for the most qualified, honest advice then email me and I'll get you started. Hungry for more information? Join my blog.

There are some amazing radios on the market and we're proud to bring you the best of them from leading makers like Cambium, Dragonwave & Siklu, but we know as well as anyone, that the performance you get depends on the quality of the implementation (path study, frequency analysis & install). Every performance car needs an able mechanic to make it purr, and that concept is especially true in the microwave business. You can buy a top of the line radio with the best specs, but if you have path reflections or your antenna alignment is a couple of dBs off, then your results will be disappointing. Trust Meridian to deliver optimal performance, regardless of weather, terrain or distance. Want to talk about your application, email me.

We simplify product selection and empower our clients with sound advice and straightforward answers. I don't know about other industries, but in the wireless business, specs are fluffed up like job resumes and a lot of the marketing is flat out misleading (e.g., "aggregate throughput"). Like other things, it's "buyer beware" and so you need to be discerning about who you're getting answers from.


Point-to-point wireless outperforms every other type of wireless because you're focusing all the radio energy to a single distant point, rather than scattering it in every direction, like a cellular or Wi-Fi signal. And as I mentioned, point-to-point wireless ("radios") falls into two distinct categories, FCC licensed and license-exempt.

Licensed Microwave ("microwave radio") is the most advanced form of wireless - period. It's what phone companies like Verizon and AT&T rely on - hence the term, "carrier-class", and today there's hardly a large business, hospital, university or government agency that isn't also using microwave. You can spot a licensed microwave installation by its drum-shaped (parabolic) antenna. These systems are heavy-duty and made to withstand the harshest climates. Licensed microwave lasts 15+ years and if money's no object, you can configure a microwave connection to never go down (seriously).

Licensed microwave is as good as wireless gets, but the license part scares many people away. Don't let it. In fact, this type of license is easy to get and you can track your application on the FCC's web site. Once granted, the license is good for an initial 10-year term (extendable thereafter for 5-years at a time) and there are no recurring license fees. The license simply means that you have an exclusive right to a specific, unused set of transmit frequencies between your buildings - nothing more, and so you're never going to see your connection degraded by interference. Virtually any corporate, educational or government entity can get a "Fixed, Point-to-Point" FCC license and turnaround time is about 60-days. For your convenience and assurance, we take care of the application filing and guarantee your approval.

License-Exempt Wireless is the other type of point to point wireless. It's a more economic, scaled-down version that uses smaller, flat-panel dishes and runs in publicly available, shared frequency bands (e.g., 2.4 & 5.8 GHz). These are relatively low in price, super-convenient to deploy and depending on distance, a great answer for bandwidths from 10-150 Mbps.

Meridian Microwave specializes in both licensed microwave and license-exempt, point to point wireless. If you have an application that you'd like us to look at, fill out our quick, 3-question Application Sheet or CALL (781) 413-5661. 

Every wireless path is different, whether urban or rural, rooftop or tower, over water or trees. Successful wireless implementations are all about solid path engineering, resourcefulness and a good installation. Trust our 20+ years of successful systems engineering to deliver state of the art wireless solutions that outperform all others. We provide convenient turnkey installations and 24/7 support for the East Coast and partner with qualified friends in other U.S. regions.

Interested in more? Get some pointers and read more about our experience and what it means for you.

point to point wireless quotation Point to Point Wireless Performance


In our product recommendations we strike for the optimal balance of cost and performance, offering state of the art, point-to-point wireless from only the best makers. If we're recommending a radio, it's because knowing what we know, it's what we'd want for ourselves.

I hope you found our site to be helpful, and look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

David S. Theodore

Email me: david@meridianmicrowave.com
to my blog or go directly to it > "Theo's Wireless WANgle".

meridian microwave
P.O. Box 651, Norwell MA 02061
Tel: (781) 413-5661


1. Cost is for radios and configuration. Mounts, antennas and cabling are quoted per application specifics.
2. Licensed microwave frequencies (for enterprise WANs) are 6 GHz, 11 GHz, 18 GHz, 23 GHz, 38 GHz & 80 GHz.
3. Applications: Wireless WANs, MANs, VoIP, last mile bypass, mixed-media backup.
4. Radio configurations: non-protected, hot-standby, redundant, space and frequency diversity.
5. Bandwidths are actual throughput delivered each way (full duplex, NOT aggregate).
6. Topography: Point to point, building to building, line of sight. Passive and active repeater configurations.
7. Visit Specs for Building Owners for roof top installation specs, weights, wind loading and photos.


Where radios are combined onto a single antenna ("dish"), they function as physically separate paths, each with their own distinct frequencies and so short of a building-wide power outage, whatever effects one link has no impact on the other. Therefore, when radios are combined, they act as redundant channels to each other. Switchover is effected by the network switch or router.

Meridian Microwave specializes in PTP microwave for building to building wireless WANs and Internet colocation. We offer turnkey installations and comprehensive site services, including: path engineering, line of sight verification, repeater site acquisition, FCC licensing, installation and 24/7 support. Our service area covers the U.S. East Coast: Vermont - VT, New Hampshire - NH, Massachusetts - MA, Rhode Island - RI, Connecticut - CT, New York - NY, New Jersey - NJ, Pennsylvania - PA, South Carolina - SC & Florida - FL.

Trained and/or Certified VAR and Systems Integrators for microwave radios from Ceragon Networks, Trango Systems, BridgeWave, Siklu, Huawei, Dragonwave and Ubiquity Networks. Call for cost, delivery and price quotes.

Copyright © 2005-2015 by Meridian Microwave LLC. All rights reserved.


INSTALL SPECS FOR BUILDING OWNERS [weights, dimensions, wind loading & photos]  :   THEO'S WIRELESS WAN BLOG