DragonWave boosts power of Compact microwave radios

A Canadian maker of microwave backhaul equipment will boost the power of its flagship radio so mobile carriers can meet increasing traffic demands.

At the same time, Ottawa’s DragonWave Inc. announced a new IP-based converged pseudowire TDM and Ethernet platform called Harmony for carriers shifting from a legacy to a flat IP architecture.

The company said Monday that its upcoming Horizon Compact+ line will be the first all-outdoor system to use cross polarization interference cancellation (XPIC) technology to help increase bandwidth to up to 2 gigabits per second.

“Given that its got more features and better cost point than the (existing) Compact, we believe that by the end of this year we’ll have most of our customers transition to Compact+,” said Greg Friesen, the manufacturer’s vice-president of product development.

The Compact series combines a modem and radio in one unit that can be mounted anywhere outside, eliminating the need to install part of a system indoors.

Compact+ can increase throughput over the previous model through XPIC and bandwidth acceleration to up to 1 Gbps over a single 28 Mhz channel, Friessen said.

Said to be optimized for 4G wireless networks using standards as Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax, Compact+ includes network synchronization and supports the 60 Ghz band for high capacity solutions. It also supports optional 256-bit AES encryption.

For wireless carriers with legacy 2/3G networks who want to move to a modern packed-based Ethernet network, DragonWave has created the Horizon Harmony line.

Friesen said these operators have a choice of hybrid TDM/ATM Frame Relay/Ethernet systems from a number of manufacturers, such as Alcatel-Lucent, NEC and Ericsson LM. However, he said, hybrid systems usually run on TDM. Harmony converges all traffic on an IP-based transport layer.

Harmony comes from the company’s purchase last October of pseudowire manufacturer Axerra Networks Inc. – whose products Dragonwave now calls the Fusion line — and essentially combines technology from Axerra’s A10 access gateway with that of the Compact+.

Most North American carriers have already moved to IP-based networks, so Harmony will be aimed at operators in Europe, Asia and South America running older networks.

Both Harmony and Compact+ will be released in the summer. Pricing wasn’t announced.

Industry analysts believe both products will be appealing to operators. In particular, Harmony and the Fusion line will help DragonWave diversify its sales, which has depended on purchases of the Compact radios by U.S. wholesale wireless provider Clearwire Communications

Harmony “is a nice fusion of the product lines,” said Jennifer Pigg, the Yankee Group’s vice-president of research for next-generation backhaul solutions.

The trend among carriers is to micro-segment cellular systems, she said, and Harmony will help such multi-tiered networks.

Harmony “can really give them a leg up on competitors,” said Xavier Ortiz, a research analyst focusing on mobile backhaul at ABI Research Inc. Compact+ is a refresh of the Compact line, he said, but adds useful new features and higher spectral efficiency.

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