The microwave radio business: a small community in a niche market where everybody tends to know each other. However, if your involvement in the microwave backhaul space goes back any length of time, no doubt you recognize the outside influence that industry analyst firms play within the industry. The analysts at Heavy Reading, Sky Light Research, Infonetics and a handful of others play a prominent role in shaping opinions about microwave radio solutions providers as well as the solutions themselves.
Reports from these analyst research firms remain very important even in a tight-knit place like microwave backhaul. They can make or break the business environment for microwave vendors for months—or years—at a time. For example, Infonetics issued its latest “Microwave Strategies and Vendor Leadership” survey results at the end of June. In this survey, 23 operators—from incumbent to competitive to pure mobile—laid bare their perceptions of not only the dedicated microwave specialist solution providers but also the telecom generalists who dabble in wireless backhaul infrastructure as an afterthought.
What emerged captivates the collective commercial consciousness.
Representing 33 percent of all capital telecom expenditures made worldwide in 2014, the 23 operators polled by Infonetics revealed just what microwave-oriented issues interest them ranked in order from most important to least significant. For 2015, the top five considerations in microwave equipment for the operators in descending order are:
- Product reliability
- Price-to-performance ratio
- Service and support
- Management solutions
Among all the microwave specialists, Aviat placed first in product reliability, service and support and management solutions. Aviat also placed first in four other categories.
These other categories that also made the list somewhat lower down in Infonetics’ survey have much importance for operators but had their presence muted due to survey methodology, perhaps. For example, solution breadth and technology innovation did not make the top five but without them the operators’ very strong desires for sophisticated and robust microwave solution features such as cross polarization (83 percent rated very important) and high system gain (78 percent rated very important) could not reach fulfillment.
Infonetics did not survey how operators perceive solution providers on specific product features, but objectively Aviat leads not just the microwave only providers but all microwave providers with its extra high power Eclipse IRU 600 EHP +39 dBm radio and across the board support for XPIC (i.e., cross-polarization interference cancellation) on a number of products.
Full disclosure: Aviat also rated número uno for solution breadth and technology innovation among all microwave specialists.
Overall, Aviat Networks was rated No. 1 by Infonetics’ operator survey respondents.
Recently, telecom research firm Heavy Reading conducted a survey of mobile network operators (MNOs) from the around the world exclusively for Aviat Networks. The goal of the survey was simple: determine the sentiment of MNOs to provide fixed wireless services to enterprise customers.
Now that the growth rate of individual wireless subscribers has leveled off in many nations with mobile penetration rates near and even exceeding 100 percent, MNOs have begun to look very seriously at alternate sources of revenue growth. And one of those alternatives is fixed wireless enterprise services, which according to Heavy Reading, MNOs rank as a co-strategic priority along with their core subscriber business.
MNO Enterprise Services survey results infographic. Click to enlarge.
Enterprise services are all very well and good but how does an MNO deliver them? The answer is not as complex as you may imagine but somewhat more difficult in reality. While MNOs have robust infrastructure based on rock-solid microwave backhaul technology to the cell sites at the edges of their networks in the majority of cases, they do not have an easily deployable method of supporting fixed wireless services to enterprises. One such way would be via Layer 3. In the survey, Heavy Reading found that a supermajority, or 70 percent, of MNOs believe that Layer 3 (L3) capability from the cell site is “critical” or “very important” to enable new service delivery.
However, L3 capabilities are not the end of the story. Layer 3 services are packet-based and require IP/MPLS routing functionality in order to operate. Accordingly, the MNOs surveyed by Heavy Reading reflect this outlook by an overwhelming 75 percent stating that IP/MPLS is “critical” or “very important” for offering fixed wireless services to enterprises. In addition, 75 percent of MNOs also believe it is “critical” or “very important” that existing cell site equipment be made capable of delivering these fixed wireless enterprise services. The existing cell site equipment is quite capable of delivering Layer 2 (L2) fixed wireless services, but help is needed to go the next step up to L3.
“Whilst L2 can be used to deliver business services, our survey results suggests that most mobile operators are very interested in the additional benefits of L3 including MPLS,” says Patrick Donegan, senior analyst, Heavy Reading. “They also tend to value very highly the ability to deliver those business services from existing equipment at their cell sites.”