Joe Schraml, VP of marketing with BridgeWave Communications (, says:

IT managers have a tremendous responsibility to ensure continuous network performance for today’s enterprise data centers. The consequences from network down time can have significant financial impact, impeding business processes and organizational productivity. Mission-critical applications such as medical informatics, financial transactions, network storage, and SaaS that support day-to-day business operations require a resilient, hardened network infrastructure. The only way to accomplish this is to create a diverse, redundant path to existing fiber connections, ensuring an always available network. But in today’s cost-conscious business environment, how can IT managers meet this critical network requirement without exhausting their budgets?

The preferred choice for a network contingency plan is fiber, an expensive but very reliable option costing up to and beyond $5,000/month to lease gigabit Ethernet service. Should the fiber be cut, resiliency is lost if the redundant fiber strands are located in the same riser or trench as the main fiber pairs, leading to the need for route diversity. Alternative methods for network connectivity include satellite, free space optics, and wireless broadband services using lower frequency microwave or high capacity millimeter wave systems. Free space optics and satellite serve their purpose, however, there are limitations including atmospheric disturbances, a greater chance of interference and security breach within the network path, and the limitations of these technologies to provide both the speed and capacity necessary to deliver the same carrier-grade performance expected in a data center environment.

Wireless broadband solutions, specifically millimeter wave (60 – 80 GHz) systems, have proven to be a suitable alternative to leasing fiber, providing the same carrier-grade network performance at a fraction of the cost. Advanced security options, including 256-bit AES data encryption, along with a very narrow antenna beam width –inherent in the higher frequencies–provide a ‘virtual pipe’ that offers the highest level of security in network transmission. In the event the existing fiber connection fails, the full-rate, full-duplex wireless gigabit Ethernet solution continues optimal network performance, transmitting bandwidth-intensive applications without network interruption. To the end user experience, there is no difference in speed and latency between a fiber connection and one established using gigabit Ethernet millimeter wave radios.

Packaged in a small form factor, the integrated all-outdoor unit is lightweight and easy to install, eliminating the need for both special equipment and radio engineering personnel. Deployment can be accomplished in a matter of days, opposed to the weeks and months dealing with permits and construction delays needed to implement fiber. Additionally, the high capacity wireless solutions eliminate the monthly recurring costs associated with leasing fiber services, allowing for ROI (return on investment) in a short period of time, typically measured in months.

When a contingency plan is needed to harden an existing data center network, there is no more resilient, reliable, and cost-effective alternative to fiber than 60-80 GHz gigabit Ethernet wireless solutions.