DragonWave unveils new flagship radio for carriers

An Ottawa manufacturer of wireless network equipment says it has a solution for carriers worried about the high cost of wiring buildings for high-speed service.

DragonWave Inc. says its new flagship 1.6 Gigabit per second Horizon Duo radios and Service Delivery Units (SDU) combination allows operators cost-effectively to merge voice-based Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) and data-based Internet Protocol (IP) circuits into Ethernet to have a unified converged network.

If next-generation wireless technologies such as LTE and WiMAX deliver up to 100 Megabits per base station as predicted, the demand for backhaul bandwidth will leap, said Erik Boch, DragonWave’s company’s chief technology officer. As a result, he said DragonWave believes there will be great demand for higher capacity wireless transmitters than they have now.

“Although we may all think about WiMAX and LTE and high bandwidth data as dominating [networks], there’s still a ton of traffic that’s going to stay on normal voice calls,” he added, “and those operators are still happily making dollars per minute off of all us to run that service.”

To do that in a competitive way as bandwidth demands soar, however, they need a cost-effective way to connect buildings or base stations to their fibre backbone.

A swappable upgrade from DragonWave’s AirPair radio, the Horizon Duo is a rack-mounted radio that can offer throughput of up to 800 Megabits per second per pair of radios or up to 1.6 Gigabits per second if doubled up. The unit’s range is up to “20 or 30 kilometers, depending on the region of the world you’re deploying it in,” said Bock. Heavy rain will degrade the signal, he said.

Horizon Duo is four times as fast as the AirPair, which stays in the company’s line-up, and has a maximum full duplex throughput of 400Mbps.

The fact that the indoor component of the Horizon Duo can replace an AirPair unit “allows operators and integrators who screwed radios to tower mounts to not have to manipulate the hardware in those difficult to access locations.”

“You don’t have to rebuilt the power system and get more rack space for it.”

For carriers with legacy GSM systems across a conventional circuit, DragonWave offers a Service Delivery Unit pseudowire family that plugs into Horizon Duo and can host the TDM signal.

The SDU comes in three versions: a 16-port T1/E1 version, a two-port DS3 version and a one-port OC3/STM1 version. It can also provide virtual aggregation. For example, a carrier could deploy the T1/E1 unit at multiple sites, which could be aggregated by an SDU OC3/STM. Horizon Duo maintains AirPair’s Metro Ethernet backhaul features as well as DragonWave’s Flex software control. That allows operators to increase the unit’s throughput speed from 10 Mbps to 800Mbps when needed so they can deploy features on a “pay as you grow” basis, said Boch.

Other Horizon Duo features include high spectral efficiency, support for licenced and unlicenced frequencies between 11 and 38 Gigahertz, and repeater and redundancy loads.

It can also be purchased as a single or dual channel unit.

Horizon Duo comes in three models with pricing ranging from US$20,000 to US$34,000. The SDUs range in price from US$2,000 to US$4,000.

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