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KTL’s expertise in E-Band technology is proving valuable to operators rolling out 5G networks

As the rollout of 5G networks accelerates and the pressure on 4G networks grows, the demands on backhaul networks have never been greater. Barry Neary, Project Director KTL shares with us his insights having worked in the telecoms industry for almost 20 years.

KTL is a Transmission ASP (Application Service Provider) delivering end-to-end services to clients, from acquisition, planning and design, and transmission, right through to installation and commissioning, service management, and bolt-on professional services.

The goal for network operators is to ultimately get 10Gbps Connectivity.

The first choice is 10 Gbps fibre – it has the most bandwidth of any transmission technology, enabling extremely high data rates to be delivered across long distances. However, fibre connectivity can be challenging due to the significant upfront costs of digging trenches and laying fibre, as well as right-of-way issues and potentially long delays due to environmental concerns explained Neary.

The next option is E-band technology.

E-band is a high-speed (up to 10Gbps) high-capacity wireless communication technology that is excellent for urban environments. Links can be deployed densely in highly populated cities, and communities using high-frequency microwaves without causing interference, and without the need to dig for cables, and fibre optics, which can be costly and time-consuming,”

“For a client’s network, we utilise various planning tools, and analyse the data considering what capacity we can get from E-Band 80 GHz spectrum. Do we deploy full 5 ½ Gbps or do we have to compensate because of the distance, which is limited to 2.5 kilometres? We factor in the best solution for the client looking at site radius, design, acquisition, spectrum availability and equipment availability to come with the most viable solution.”

“In some instances, we may have to twin-track options presented to the client i.e. Two solutions would be run in parallel. If one is acquired six months quicker, then the second option is cancelled.”

“E-Band is a finite resource and is ultimately a race against time for operators to ensure they purchase the required 80 GHz spectrum for all essential locations. The operator needs to apply for the spectrum via Ofcom-UK or ComReg-Ireland to secure the required licence.”

KTL worked E-Band at the Cheltenham Festival recently to enable live 5G, which took place at the Cheltenham racecourse in Gloucestershire from 15-18 March 2022. The demand for high-quality connectivity and data sharing was paramount at this festival as it operates on a largely ‘cashless’ basis with an attendance of more than 250,000 people across the four days.

“The E-Band 80GHz high-capacity microwave link had several faults and configurational issues and to resolve, KTL deployed experienced field engineers on-site swiftly, supported by a knowledgeable operations team. They accessed the client’s network management system, configured, and integrated the two sites successfully. We resolved the issue right-first time bringing 5G on-air and live. Everyone on the client’s side was delighted.”

“In Hull UK, we were given 8-10 weeks by the operator to deliver 5G with an extremely tight timeline. Taking our deep transmission knowledge and expertise, working closely with the acquisition and engineering teams we managed this project end-to-end covering the network analysis, design, acquisition, installation, and commissioning to successfully go live on air with 5G - days ahead of schedule.”

When asked about the future, Barry explained, that E-band MW links have a distance limitation so there needs to be further research into developing links to a higher modulation - stretching the distance and keeping the higher capacity with innovative equipment advancing to match. This will take 5G to rural sites, not just towns and cities – closing the digital divide.

To find out more contact us today.


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