Microwave radio systems are growing in popularity as a single replacement for phone, cable and internet connections in some situations.
Organizations with multiple nearby locations that need fast, reliable communication are finding microwave radio to be the best solution.
Microwave radio is a way of transporting data between antennae via short (micro) wavelengths. A typical FM radio station runs at a frequency of 100 megahertz, whereas microwave runs at 2 to 80 gigahertz. The antennae must be in line of sight of one another but can be typically 20 miles apart or more. Microwave radio antennae may be installed on existing towers or high buildings in areas to overcome obstructions, such as hills, trees, or structures.
More bandwidth, more services
Compared to traditional radio, microwave radio allows users to communicate at longer distances because the towers are connected and expand the coverage area. But microwave carries more than just voice. These radio waves have bandwidth to transport computer data, internet connections, specialty applications data, and signaling data, as well as phone. One microwave radio system can replace services from multiple communication providers.
Businesses can also benefit from microwave radio’s ability for ultra-fast data sharing. One of our customers, a financial institution in Wisconsin, wanted fast data sharing for the most up-to-date stock pricing, which changes in fractions of a second. Microwave radio was the best option for such fast and secure data sharing.
Compared to services that require hard lines, such as traditional phone and cable, microwave radio is more reliable. A storm or car accident can take down a pole and cause an outage. A careless construction worker could cut underground lines while digging. Microwave radio doesn’t have these vulnerabilities.
“Where underground or overhead cable and fiber optics may be impossible due to obstructions, microwave radio can be the answer,” says Cliff Hammarstrom, vice president of technology at Radicom. “For example, an Illinois bank needed to install lines for data sharing between its drive-through facility and the main branch located three blocks away. There was a river blocking the ability to install fiber optic cable, so they chose microwave radio instead.”
Public safety and public service providers are especially good candidates for microwave radio because it provides fast and reliable service for two-way radios, as well as other communication services such as internet.
Cost savings is another benefit to microwave radio. Organizations still using wired services with the phone company and internet from other providers can be paying high fees every month. Once a microwave system is purchased and installed, there are no additional costs other than maintenance. Most microwave radio users see a full payback in three to five years.
Is microwave a good fit?
To identify whether microwave radio is a feasible solution, Radicom conducts a full evaluation with each customer. We have been in the radio communication business for more than 50 years and know the technology well.
The first step is finding existing high-point structures to install antennae. Next, Radicom uses modeling software to map the microwave path and ensure a viable connection. If it is, we help customers through the complex FCC licensing process. Then certified tower climbers are dispatched to install the equipment.
“We help customers determine whether microwave fits or not – whether it will work technically and reliably over time, and provide access to expanded services,” Hammarstrom says. “But ultimately, the bottom line is whether it has a good return on investment.”