DragonWave’s more powerful Ethernet backhaul system

DragonWave’s latest packet microwave radio system promises to give more for less – more capacity in less space, that is.

The Ottawa company said Monday that it’s upcoming Ethernet-based Horizon Quantum can deliver up to 4Gbps per link, twice as much as Horizon Duo model it replaces, with a smaller radio and an indoor unit that takes up half as much rack space as the previous version.

“Horizon Quantum is targeted at meeting scale requirements without having a huge cost per bit,” said Greg Friesen, the company’s director of product management.

As a result, he argues, Quantum can be used to replace fibre optic in LTE and WiMAX networks.

Wireless network operators are seeing huge jumps in demand, but at a time when revenues are slowing, Friesen said, a combination that’s pushing backhaul costs up. As a result some companies are looking at owning their own backhaul.

With its integrated rink and mesh switching, synchronization, and support for LTE and WiMAX, DragonWave believes Horizon is a good solution.

Emmy Johnson, principal analyst at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based SkyLight Research, which specializes in last-mile technologies, believes the manufacturer may be on to something. “High capacity radios and very small footprints are always very attractive to the backhaul market,” she said.

She added that Quantum’s support for the IEEE 1588 synchronization standard, remote management and XPIC (cross-polarization interference cancellation for increased throughput) will also be appreciated by buyers.

Competitors in the packet radio market include Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Physically, the Quantum radio weighs 2.72 kg. and measures just over 19 cm. square. As a result it takes up less space on a mast than the Horizon Compact radio. It allows longer cables and smaller diameters and a wider tuning range to simplify installation.

The 2Gbps indoor unit is only half a rack wide – two of them, side by side, gives 4Gpbs in one 1U rack. Each IDU has a bandwidth accelerator that delivers 2.5 times the efficiency of the outgoing Horizon Duo rack unit. Also new is hitless adaptive modulation, to help minimize antenna size while being able to deliver voice and video applications, and hitless space and frequency diversity, which helps increase the length of links.

Owners of DragonWave AirPair and Duo systems will like to know that these are interoperable with Quantum.

Quantum can be deployed in a number of configurations: A single indoor unit hooked to dual radios can deliver up to up to 2 Gbps throughput (1 Gpbs per channel); a single IDU with a single radio can deliver up to 2 Gpbs; or two IDUs connected to two radios, which can deliver up to 4 Gbps.

“With its high capacity Quantum fits really well in the core of the network as a fibre extension,” said Friesen, “great for transport rings and meshes. It has integrated nodal switching, so you don’t require an external Ethernet switch.”

The 800 Mbps Horizon Compact, which stays in the DragonWave lineup, is aimed at access links needing all-outdoor systems.

Quantum will be released at the end of the year, carrying a starting list price of around $12,000 for a single channel, 1 Gbps system with two modems and two radios – about 30 per cent less than the Duo.


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