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I stretched a 30-metre copper wire from our house to the nearest hill. radio links have come a long way (literally!) since then – and so have I! I’ve now been invited to share some of my hard-earned knowledge with you. and spent rainy days lying on the sofa listening to rock-n-roll.440 kHz) on my father’s ancient Tandberg Sølvsuper 5. I hope you enjoy this guide. Luckily. I set up an antenna to receive Radio Luxembourg (1. growing up in Norway. That winter we had a huge thunderstorm. You can guess the rest. My career started when I was a teenager.” 2 . My father had to replace his beloved old Tandberg and I learned my first hard lesson about radio.Preface “I’ve been involved with radio for ages.

so it is up to you where and what you read first. so that you will be able to design and bring into service a radio link of your own. 15 GHz and upwards. The intention is to give you a brief introduction to the ‘mysteries’ of radio relay planning. I have also taken the opportunity of adding in some anecdotal stories to clarify a point and lighten the read. even if you have no experience whatsoever of radio relay planning and want to install a link today. The focus of this book is on high frequency equipment. The chapters may be read in any order.Introduction This book is for you. Just install it and forget it. This will certainly pay you back since radio gives the least headaches per kilometre. p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s . systems such as Nera CityLink. 3 How to use the book You’ll find the information has been organised into chapters with the most important topics covered first. which has become a potent competitor to fibre optic and leased lines in enterprise networks. By reading the following pages you will become a competent radio planner.

itu.ch will help you to find and order the recommendations you need.Icons This icon marks useful hints for the planning of radio links. If you wish to cover the subject in greater detail. This is also aimed at readers who need basic engineering information on the subject. ‘Propagation data and prediction methods required for the design of terrestrial line-of-sight systems’. This icon marks topics included to answer some common questions and add a little ‘spice’ to the guide. 4 Further reading There is much more to radio relay planning than can be covered in this guide. Topics marked with this icon are advanced subjects containing valuable information worth knowing. There are also a number of published works on radio wave propagation and radio relay planning. NERA Telecommunications offers a more comprehensive publication entitled ‘Planning Line-of-sight Radio Relay Systems’. by Ingvar Henne and myself. The web site at www. .530-7. This icon appears alongside topics that cover possible dangers to be avoided. Further information is available from the reports and recommendations given by the ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union – Radiocommunication). in particular the Recommendation ITU-R P. see the bibliography at the end of the guide.

Radio Relay Systems What are they? The main purpose of a radio link is to transport data and voice traffic from one place to another. The radio link uses the air as the transport medium to send encoded electro-magnetic waves. The reason for doing so is to ensure maximum output power. A typical link consists of two radios and two antennas separated by a distance from a couple of hundred metres up to about 20 kilometres. 5 p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s . Usually each radio is split into an indoor and an outdoor unit with a cable in between.

simultaneously. Effectively. In the radio the digital signals are coded into analogue signals and converted to microwaves with a typical length of a few centimetres. The microwaves are sent using a highly directive parabolic shaped antenna.How they work The data and voice traffic is fed into the radio either using an electrical or optical line. easier to install and can be relocated fast. 6 . but it is less expensive. of course. the link can be looked upon as just another fibre optic cable. At the other end the signals are received and restored to the digital format. Microwaves are used because they are able to propagate high bit rates safely through the air. This works both ways.

To steady your aim. point the sun’s rays at the ground. If the other site is not easily spotted. However. a mirror with a diameter of 20cm or less can be used for verification. is to use your own eyes or binoculars.Line of sight You cannot bend microwaves Have you ever installed a TV antenna? If so. Position yourself at your chosen site and a colleague at your target site. which are only centimetres in length. are small relative to the surroundings and hence do not have this bending property. p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s . The reason is that the electromagnetic waves have the ability to bend around the terrain when the wavelength is long compared to the height variations of the terrain. A mobile phone or walkie-talkie will help you and your colleague communicate – to determine whether the rays were clearly visible at the target site. In order to establish a radio link you must have line of sight between the two radio position sites. microwaves. then move the mirror carefully upwards until the rays hit the target site. you may have noticed that it is possible to receive a signal even though you cannot see the TV transponder. 7 I have seen the light The simplest way to determine whether you have line of sight. Use the mirror to catch the sun and reflect it towards the target site.

If you have to transmit over such areas. If you do there is a possibility of having a reflected signal in addition to the original signal which can disturb the communication.It is usually best to use the mirror at the lowest situated site since it is much easier to spot and direct the reflected ray to something that is visible against a background. If. the actual terrain heights have to be increased slightly (mostly towards the middle of the path). As mentioned earlier the radio links transport traffic using electromagnetic waves. This added height is called earth-bulge. you live in a place where the sun does not shine that often. When setting up a link you should try to avoid transmitting over flat areas or water. On this drawing the Fresnel zone is superimposed in order to determine antenna heights. you can use a camera flash instead to ensure line of sight. Since the wavelength of microwaves is small we can treat the waves as a ray. 8 . This space is cigar shaped and is named the Fresnel zone. A normal camera flash is easily spotted up to about 10 kilometres. When planning radio relays. (taken for instance from a 1:50. The extent of the Fresnel zone varies with the frequency of the signal and the distances from the sites. it is common to use terrain profiles. you should try to conceal the antenna from the reflection point or point the antennas slightly upwards to minimise the effect of the reflection.000 map) between the sites. It is worth remembering that the sun is simplest to catch and redirect at the most northerly site in the northern hemisphere and the most southerly site in the southern hemisphere. but we need a little extra space around the line of sight in order to get as much energy as possible from one site to another. If the signal path is long. to compensate for a minute degree of bending of microwaves in air and also for the curvature of the earth. These are drawings showing terrain obstacles. like me.

the path length and the distance from the sites.0 5.0 15.400 375 Altitude [m] 350 325 0. 12 11 10 9 Fresnel zone [m] 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Path Length [km] 10 GHz 15GHz 20GHz 25GHz 30GHz 35GHz 40GHz p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s .0 Distance [km] 10.0 9 The size of the Fresnel zone is a function of the frequency. The illustration below gives the Fresnel zone size at the middle of the signal path.

The signal strength drops with the square of the distance and if the sites are too far apart it is not possible to discriminate the signal from the background noise. When microwave power is transmitted from one site it gets diluted in the air and is received as a very weak signal at the other end. 10 A Nera CityLink example budget Output power: +20 dBm Antenna gain: +39 dB Free space loss (10 km. These excessive dBs are termed fading margin and help to maintain high performance and availability in rainy conditions. . 18 GHz): -138 dB Antenna gain: +39 dB Received level: -40 dBm The lowest power level the Nera CityLink can function with is -73 dBm which provides about 33 dB margin. dBm relates to Watt logarithmically providing a simple calculation (0 dBm = 1 mW. To establish losses and gains a ‘link budget’ must be drawn. In addition radio links are susceptible to rain and that must also be taken into account when designing the radio link.Link budget It is a sad fact that nearly everything in life is limited. and consequently 1 W = +30 dBm). For convenience engineers use dBm in calculating signal power. and that goes for the transmitting range of a radio link as well.

the 40 higher the antenna gain will be. In the free space loss calculation. (don’t ask me how!). Putting this together we get a formula for calculating free space loss as a function of distance and frequency. that maximum radiated energy from a point source is inversely proportional to the square of the frequency. From electromagnetic theory it can be shown.60m to focus the power in a 45 1. The graph shows the results for the actual Nera CityLink frequencies. How is it possible to get gain from a passive device? Has the perpetum mobile been accidentally invented? No of course not.45m 0.155 40GHz 150 145 Free space loss [db] 140 35GHz 30GHz 25GHz 20GHz 15GHz 11 FREE SPACE LOSS: 135 Imagine that you put up 130 an aerial that transmits power in all directions. 125 The power transmitted will 120 be diluted in the air and the 0 5 10 15 20 Distance [km] power received at a distance (r) will be proportional to the transmitted power divided by the area of a sphere with radius r. ANTENNA GAIN: You may wonder about the notion antenna gain. but microwave 50 antennas with their Antenna diameter parabolic design are able 0. antennas radiating in all directions (omnidirectional) were considered. The antenna gain 35 is proportional to the square of the diameter and frequency. 30 Antenna gain [dBi] 18 23 Frequency [GHz] 25 p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s .20m certain direction. The more directive the antenna is. The antenna gain is to do with the way we define and calculate free space loss.

01% of the time at a given place is used.Availability 100 Specific attenuation [dB/km] 10 “Rain. When you know the frequency and rainrate for a given link it is possible to calculate the specific Rain attenuation for vertical polarisation as a attenuation.25 mm/h 12 1. For more than thirty years I have had the resulting pleasure of this weather forecast. hour [mm/h] and for radio link purposes the intensity measured for 0.1 0. Rain doesn’t just bother me. The attenuating effect of rain depends on the rain intensity (number of drops and their size) and the frequency of the signal. some of the energy will be lost due to scattering and absorption by the rain drops and the signal strength will diminish. If there is a rain shower in the radio link path. showers later”.25 mm/h 0. This figure function of frequency and rain rate tells you how much the signal strength will be attenuated in one kilometre with rain.0 0. The rain intensity is measured in millimetres pr. 150 mm/h 100 mm/h 50 mm/h 25 mm/h 5 mm/h 1.01 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Frequency [GHz] . it also has an attenuating effect on microwaves.

13 >140 >120 >100 >90 >80 >70 >60 >50 >40 >30 >20 >10 Rain intensity (mm/h) The volume and intensity of rainfall varies geographically. p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s . both are generally greater along the equator than in the temperate regions. As the rain intensity increases the rain cell size gets smaller and normally only parts of the radio link path are affected.

01 0.0001 0. Find the specific attenuation for the given rainrate and desired frequency 3. Effective path length [km] 50 45 40 35 Fade margin [dB] 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0. Multiply effective path length and the specific attenuation to get A.001 0.01% of the time The ingredients needed for the unavailability calculation 1.1 Outage probability [%] A=5 A=10 A=15 A=20 A=25 A=25 A=35 A=40 45 50 14 A = rain attenuation [dB] for 0.01%.18 16 20mm/h 40mm/h 60mm/h 80mm/h 100mm/h By multiplying the 14 specific rain 12 attenuation with the 10 effective path length 8 you get the needed 6 fading margin for a 4 link performing with 2 an unavailability 0 1 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 0.00001 0. Estimate the rainrate by using the world precipitation map 2. Usually you Path Length [km] need a much better performance. so the fading margin must be scaled to obtain the desired unavailability figures.01% unavailability 5. Scale the fade margin to achieve desired unavailability .000001 0. Use the rainrate and path length to get the effective path length 4. the fade margin for 0.

World record of precipitation 15 I thought that Bergen. India it rains 30 metres a year and in Cilaos. MO CURTEA DE ARGES.240 10.6 UNIONVILLE. Norway. but take a look at this graph. PA D MANIS. W VA HOLT.If you are planning a long radio link path you should stick to vertical polarisation. INDIA . With vertical polarisation most of the energy is in the vertical plane and hence the wave “sees” less rain than if it were horizontally polarised. becoming flatter due to air resistance. BAVARIA R= 1 6. In Cherrapunji. The use of vertical polarisation may decrease the outage time by as much as 30% compared to horizontal polarisation. La Reunion 2 metres fall in just a couple of days.800 25.4 75 CHERRAPUNJI. TEXAS ROCKPORT.150 5080 2540 2032 1524 1016 508 254 204 153 102 51 Rainfall [inches] 100 80 60 40 20 10 8 6 4 2 1 1 CILAOS LA REUNION BELOUVE LA REUNION SMETHPORT.5 2 4 6 8 20 40 60 3 6 9 12 18 24 5 10 20 30 2 3 8 9 12 24 Minutes Hours Duration Days Months p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s Rainfall [mm] D 0. with its two metres of annual rainfall was about the wettest place on earth. When the rain intensity increases the raindrops get bigger and change from their original spherical shape. MD 2.380 15. RUMANIA PLUMB POINT. 2000 1000 800 600 400 200 50.400 20. JAMAICA FUSSEN.

Yes..2 The bit-error-ratio (BER) should typically not exceed 10-6 for links carrying data traffic (e. The unavailability objectives usually cover both propagation effects and equipment effects. annually] 52 26 5. for instance.999% of the time. But you can not just pick a frequency at will. the availability objectives for high performance links in access networks are in the range of 99.Objectives How good should the transmission quality of the link be? As good as it gets. Should you accidentally choose a frequency already . or 10-3 for telephony.995 99. have a radio in the 18 GHz band there are more than fifteen different frequencies to choose from. but it is common among administrations and route designers to use 30%-50% of the outage for rain. 16 Frequencies In order to establish a link you need to select a radio frequency for transmission. because there may be others already using the same frequency band.g.99 99. ATM. even though it is highly unlikely.01 0. Unless you are planning a large trunk network (which I don’t recommend with only this guide as reference!). even Nera equipment may fail. If you. but there will always be a trade off between quality and affordability. Please refer to ITU recommendations for details on availability if your link is part of a larger telecommunications network.or IP-traffic).99% to 99. The mutual size of the two portions is more or less up to you.001 Unavailability [min. Availability [%] 99.999 Unavailability [%] 0.005 0.

The only thing you have to do is to buy the radio. one half-band for transmission. You must apply for the frequencies you need using application forms which are typically a couple of pages of information about the position. If you have more than one link using the same site. it may cause interference and as a result deteriorate the transmission quality. p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s . But. When you buy a Nera radio. transmitted power and other relevant technical details of your planned link. do not despair. Use of frequencies is co-ordinated and planned. transmitted signals may leak into nearby receivers and cause severe interference.17 used by somebody in the vicinity. the other half-band for reception. all transmitters and receivers must be in the same half-band. If not. we will fill in the form for you and plan your net as part of the service. Frequency bands are divided into two half-bands. frequencies. Such co-ordination is usually handled by the regulatory authorities or administrations in the various countries and can be a complicated procedure.

It is PC software for easy commissioning and configuration of the Nera CityLink. On the cover of the Nera CityLink manual.. you only read manuals when you have to.On the air Installation. Nera have made it simple. 18 . the name of the game is to get up and running fast. i. After you have opened the packages and checked that all items accord to the list. A coarse alignment can be done by using line of sight or a compass. You do one antenna at a time. You can begin with either the indoor unit or the outdoor unit. you will find the NEW Configurator.e. easy to read and right to the point. bringing into service or commissioning. The last thing you have to do is to align the antennas. The Indoor unit will respond with the message “*PWR On Boot *Please wait.” and after a short while the message “Starting Application”. As a nuts and bolts man who prefers the outdoor life. the NEW Configurator contains a wizard that guides you through the necessary steps. I usually start with the antenna and the outdoor unit. Whatever you call it.. If like me. When the units have been installed and cables have been connected it is time for commissioning. the installation can start. In order to speed up the initial configuration. The manual is thin with lots of illustrations. will tell you that everything is all right. The fine alignment is done by adjusting for maximum input power using the outdoor unit’s audible signal or AGC voltage. turning on the power.

5. it was easy.00 -55.45 13. a leveller and a power meter. the ultimate peek in received power should be easily detected. but just a little more patience please.00 setting up a test link 25. After doing the installation and commissioning.00 -75.59 Rain intensity [mm/h] (5 min. who know how impractical I am.00 -70. p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s 15.) .00 at 15 GHz to 20.00 amount of outage due 10.00 investigate the 15.00 it was time for 0.00 Rain intensity ago I had the pleasure of 30.00 antenna alignment Non-linear time scale which is thought to be tricky especially on higher frequencies.00 -50.30 12.00 -80.04 14.00 Some years Input level 35. I faced the task (and my audience).00 -85.00 -60.36 12. This made me a little uncomfortable at first. My colleagues.00 -45. In a matter of minutes the antennas were aligned and I could talk to Hilmar on the service phone.The ultimate test of manhood 40.00 to rain and sleet.28 14.19 19 And what about the measurements? Well. but not for long. they were run for a year and showed that the outage was far less than expected and theory had suggested. First of all most links are close to the horizontal due to the relative longer length of the path compared to the height difference between sites. Armed with this knowledge. To be honest. After the installation.00 14.25 12.00 -65.44 15. The radio should perform with less than 10 errors in 24 hours. you will be eager to get on air. First of all you should check that the radio performs as expected. decided to let me do the antenna alignment. You can use the built-in test facilities in the NEW Configurator to measure the quality.25 14. clockwise for instance. If the antennas are rotated in the same direction. So the joke was on them! Input level [dBm] 12. They stood watching and smiling to themselves.

due to its complex nature it is even more secure than other competing data transporting media. 20 . video or pure data? It is hard to tell by just looking at the data stream. Imagine that you want to eavesdrop a link. filtering and modulation code based on the received spectrum and get a device that is able to do the decoding. With such a device you can get access to data traffic at various rates. now you have to guess what kind of traffic it is. $99. In order to get a signal you must be close to the transmitter or in its antenna beam which is usually very unlikely. In fact. which can be very complicated. If you still have an interest in eavesdropping. The easiest way to do all this. The next thing to do is to guess the data rate. Also a phone call to some engineers in the organisation owning the transmitter can be very useful. spectrum analyser. Usually it is both encrypted and scrambled. is to get a receiver from the same manufacturer who provided the transmitter you want to eavesdrop.Breaking in – a rough guide Security has never been my strong point. In order to extract the information from the SDH frames you need an SDH processor and demultiplexer. If you should be lucky enough to break the code. Finished? Oh no. possible overhead.999. Is it voice. content and presentation will both amuse and amaze you. The diversity in subject. modulation method. preferably a big one. The conclusion must be that radio for all practical purposes is secure. I think it is better to do that while you are commuting. let’s consider the issue. when you have managed to get the digital data. Then. Just looking at the antenna and the outdoor unit can give you a clue. But since there are so many allegations about the lack of security when using radio. The first thing you need is an antenna. you will still face the problems with protocols and language. and an expensive. you must unscramble and synchronise it before you have access to the SDH frames.

Low-Angle Microwave Propagation: Physics and Modeling. Prentice Hall. ITU. ISBN 0-86341-086-3 ITU-R. Handbook Digital Radio-Relay Systems. Artech House. ISBN 0-13212-622-2 21 p l a n n i n g f o r d u m m i e s .. Terrestrial Digital Microwave Communications. Artech House.. ISBN 92-61-06281-4 Ivanek Ferdo.A.R. Digital Line-Of-Sight Radio Links.M. Effects of the troposphere on radio communication. ISBN 0-89006-302-8 Townsend A.Bibliography There are of course a lot of books on radio wave propagation and radio relay planning and the following titles may be of interest to you Giger Adolf. ISBN 0-89006-584-5 Hall Martin P. IEE.

I’m singing in the rain Just singing in the rain What a glorious feeling I’m happy again I’m laughing at clouds So dark up above ’Cause the sun’s in my heart And I’m ready for love Let the stormy clouds chase Everyone from the place Come on with the rain I’ve a smile on my face I’ll walk down the lane With a happy refrain ’Cause I’m singing Just singing in the rain .

The book covers the basics for planning radio link in the enterprise network and covers the following topics: • Radio relay systems • Line of sight • Link budget • Availability • Objectives • Frequencies • Commissioning • Security . I have written one myself and I hope that you will find it interesting as a door opener to the fascinating world of radio link planning. I have considered it a good idea. instead of waiting in vain. I have long been waiting for a “for dummies” book on planning of radio links.Ever since I saw the first “for dummies” book in the bookstore. These books give readers who do not know anything about a subject a fast introduction to the basic facts. I do not have high hopes for a planning book arriving. Well. With titles like “sex for dummies” and “narcissism for dummies” emerging.