In general, low frequency radio waves are well suited for long range communications, while high frequency waves are needed to achieve high capacity.
Reliable and fast communications
“Previously, there was no technology that allowed us to leverage the radio communication capability while still ensuring proper communications operation in extreme weather conditions,” says Karl Martin Gjertsen, Chief Technologist of Ceragon Networks Norwegian Operations. “For communications, the trade-off has generally been to prioritize reliability over capacity.”
Dr. Gjertsen worked on the “Flexible Wireless Infrastructure for Future Packet-based Telecommunications Networks” project, which investigated the use of radio waves for reliable, high-capacity communications over long distances. The project received funding under the Research Council’s Large-Scale Program on Core Competences and Value Creation in ICT (VERDIKT).
Radio transmitters are low maintenance and ideal for remote locations. “For solutions like these, it is important to combine high and low frequency wavelengths – to ensure adequate capacity as well as transmission over long distances.”
Behaving like a beam of light, high frequency waves scatter and require a clear line of sight between transmitter and receiver. Low frequency waves travel more like swells in water and are able to bypass most obstacles. These characteristics can be put to good use, says Dr. Gjertsen.
“Modern communication networks carry information in small chunks, called data packets, allowing radio communication capacity to be utilized much better than before. Control mechanisms include radios recording the quality of the connection and adjusting their capacity depending on prevailing conditions.”
“Packet communications are a welcome development when it comes to extending the capacity of radio connections.”
Low power consumption is a competitive advantage of radio wave technology. “We have already demonstrated radio amplifiers that save 10 watts per transmitter, compared to standard solutions,” says Dr Gjertsen. “This means lower energy costs for telecommunications networks. Telecom operators could save around 15% on the energy bills of their radio installations.”
The demand for high capacity radio communications exists mainly in countries other than Norway.
“These systems will be best suited to places with large distances covered by little infrastructure,” adds Dr Gjertsen, “such as deserts, rainforests and desolate plains.”
“Radio Relay Stations also require such minimal maintenance that they can be placed wherever relay junctions are needed for telecommunications networks, even where people do not normally roam. At remote sites like these- Here, the energy savings are particularly important because the electricity needed must be produced by solar cells or by a diesel generator which requires a continuous filling of fuel.
Telecom operators need to rethink
The low operating costs and high flexibility will attract interest from telecommunications operators, believes Dr Gjertsen.
“In order to drive change in a market, anything new must meet minimum requirements while costing as little as possible. We face a daunting challenge,” he concludes. “Operators all need more capacity but are not willing to pay a lot for it. This means they need to make fundamental changes in their thinking. Our solution is cheaper and more efficient than existing alternatives, and could be of considerable benefit to them.”