The AWS band is currently being used for
various government and non-government
services; all will require relocation, which must begin in 2007, and be completed by end 2010. A congressional mandate provides funds,
acquired through the auction, to assist
relocation from the government band uplink.
Incumbent relocations from the privately-deployed downlink, however, are funded
directly by the new licensees.
“With so much riding on AWS deployment, pressure on the incumbents is immense,” says Asad Zoberi, RFS Area Product Manager,
Microwave Antenna Systems. “But, the ability to reassess options and upgrade to new digital
systems should compensate for much of the disruption.”
Zoberi cites numerous alternatives for
incumbents, including lease of existing T1 lines, deployment of fiber networks, and relocation of the AWS-band backhaul to other microwave bands. The latter, Zoberi reasons, is the most
flexible and economic. “Microwave options can cover vast distances without extra costs, are quick to deploy, present superior reliability and offer payback periods of as little as two years,” he says. “They also present the opportunity to upgrade to digital microwave technology, where capacity is less of an issue. Furthermore, microwave backhaul lets users have total control of the system.”
Numerous band options are available
potentially: some adjacent to the AWS band, plus a selection of alternative frequency bands. “The need for swift incumbent relocation will likely favor these microwave networks and RFS can provide premium antenna solutions in all major microwave bands,” Zoberi says.
AWS network optimization
Once in place, the new AWS broadband wireless networks will be particularly demanding from an optimization perspective, with fresh challenges emerging from the Third Generation Partnership Project’s (3GPP’s) universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS). “AWS carriers already anticipate that they are going to be spending a lot of time tweaking, trying this and trying that—all to make sure they have the best
performance possible,” Kiesling says.
Heisler concurs. “From a consumer perspective, network quality is the most important variable. It is one of the leading reasons for subscriber churn, with significant commercial impact. If your network can differentiate on the availability and speed of broadband data services, then you can drive and grow these data revenues.”
The key optimization tools in this area relate to the big news of end 2006—finalization of the Antenna Interface Standards Group (AISG)
version 2.0 standard for tower-top equipment control and monitoring.
“The wireless market and the AISG standard have reached a critical level of maturity,” Heisler says. “Carriers now expect to be able to
monitor their tower-top equipment and
are no longer willing to use proprietary
methods. ASIG version 2.0-compliance fulfils that, and RFS is very proud to offer some of
the first compliant solutions in the country.” RFS’s recently launched end-to-end AISGv2.0-compliant tower-top equipment control and monitoring solution-set comprises all key
antenna line elements, including the AWS-band TMAs, antenna control units (ACUs), control network interface (CNI) and RFS’s innovative Network Element Manager (NEM) software.
It is this area of network optimization where
carriers will, according to Kiesling, “make it or break it” in the wireless broadband stakes.
“The network optimization challenge facing carriers running 3G services in the AWS band is probably the greatest we have seen to date,” he says. “We know that QoS, service availability and data service speeds are the ultimate deciders for broadband wireless data subscribers.
“The good news is that our AWS solution set
addresses these issues head-on. RFS has the most comprehensive AWS deployment and
optimization solution set on the market—and it’s in place and ready-to-roll right now.”