Internet Access

mmWave and the Tropics

When looking at methods to deliver Gigabits everywhere all the time, fiber is often the first thought. And fiber is good, if it’s there.

What to expect when deploying Gigabit wireless connections in heavy rainfall geographies – Hint: It’s better than you might think.

One thing is clear in today’s connected world – everyone wants Gigabits. When looking at methods to deliver Gigabits everywhere all the time, fiber is often the first thought. And fiber is good, if it’s there. If it’s not, extending the fiber plant with more glass can be timely and expensive.

Enter mmWave - the only wireless technology that truly extends fiber with massive multi-Gigabit speeds and single digit or lower latencies. It is widely accepted that in today’s Gigabit World, mmWave is the right wireless technology. Yet there is a great deal of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about how useful mmWave actually is due to the perception that it is range limited. There is also a lot of misunderstanding about mmWave and the impact of snow, dust, hail (no impact) and heavy rainfall. While the last one has a real effect, it is one that is easily planned for, and with advanced technologies mmWave can still deliver multiple kilometer or mile links that are as reliable as you want them to be.

The impact of heavy rainfall is of special concern to those living in tropical or sub-tropical regions where rainfall can be measured at 145 mm/hour. In these environments many believe mmWave is not viable at all or can only be used for very short distances.

Heavy Rain and Siklu

At Siklu we have over 100,00 mmWave units deployed worldwide, from the deserts to the rainforests. And they all deliver reliable, robust connections. Coupling smart design with mmWave radios that have the farthest reach or performance in the industry means Siklu mmWave connections are not only viable in the tropics, but can deliver all the same benefits – fast time to market, low cost and reliable Gigabit links – as seen in more temperate rain zones.

When designing a mmWave (or microwave for that matter) link, there are three key elements that have to be considered:

  • How far is the link?
  • What availability is needed for the connection? 99.999%? 99.99%?99.95%?
  • What rain region will the link be deployed in.

Because heavy rain can have an impact the third criterion is used to predict the range and availability in any geography around the world. This is done by estimating the impact of heavy rain based on over 40 years of data showing what the average rainfall is anywhere in the world.

Let’s take a look at an example of a Siklu EtherHaul™ 2500 and its predicted availability and range in two different rain zones – one from a higher latitude region such as Europe, and the other in the tropics of Africa, South America or Asia. These examples will both use two foot antennas, and a standard off the shelf Siklu EtherHaul 2500.

  • Rain region k (42mm per hour or less 99.99% of the time) - Parts of Europe, eastern US, and parts of Africa to list a few geos.
  • Rain region p (142mm per hour or less 99.99% of the time) - Portions of Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa.


Graphs-01 (002)


With this we can do an apples-apples comparison of performance in the two regions. For Sample 1, as the table shows we can achieve a Full Duplex 2Gbps link at 99.99% availability (60 mins/Year outage) over a 2km/1.2mi distance.




For Sample 2, rain region P, extremely heavy rainfall, a Siklu EH-2500 link will still reach a range of 1.1km/0.7mi with 99.99% availability. If we are willing to accept a 99.95% availability the range extends to more than 1.6km/1mi.


Graphs-01-03 (002)


And There is More

Clearly heavy rain such as is experienced in the tropics has an impact. And it is just such conditions that led to the development of ExtendMM, Siklu’s approach to stretching these links to distances of 10km/6mi or more. ExtendMM is a solution that integrates a lower frequency, secondary link with our EtherHaul 2500 and 8010 radios in a simple and easy to deploy and manage configuration. (Learn more about ExtendMM here).

ExtendMM is a mature, proven system that has been on the market for many years. At Siklu we have hundreds of installations of ExtendMM, with ranges of 10km/6mi common. ExtendMM is also a very flexible technology, working with any third party wireless link, at any frequency. From 5GHz to 38GHz ExtendMM supports them all.


When the Rain Gets Heavy, Siklu Shoulders the Load

With or without ExtendMM there is one fact you can take to the bank – Siklu with the highest system gain on the market has the longest range available in mmWave – from arid regions to tropical. If you are located in a heavy rainfall region and thought mmWave was not for you, think again. Don’t be shy, reach out and contact us today and let us help you unlock your mmWave potential wherever you may live, be it the Gobi Desert or the Amazon rain forest Siklu can deliver those Gigabits where you need them.

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