Aviat claims new class of product with integrated microwave router

Microwave product incorporates five separate devices, bringing microwave, L2 and L3 capability to the access network within one box.

Aviat Networks has announced general availability of a product that is intended to reduce the cost of providing Layer Three IP functionality over microwave backhaul links. The company says the launch of a product creates a new class of element in the mobile network – the microwave router.

Gary Croke, Director of Marketing, said that Aviat’s CTR 8000 combines five devices into one platform: an indoor microwave unit, L2 Carrier Ethernet switch, L3 IP/MPLS router, Power over Ethernet capability (replace PoE injectors) and a TDM Pseudowire device.

Although other solutions exist that site a “microwave radio-aware” router next to a microwave unit, Croke said the CTR 8000 is “the first purpose built microwave router”.

By reducing the number of devices required to bring IP/MPLS to the access network, the product is designed to reduce complexity, lower latency in the network, give operators more flexibility in creating services, and reduce operating costs.

Aviat was unable to provide detailed ROI on the TCO of deploying combined devices, but it did provide the following claims: “Alternative solutions which deploy separate routers and microwave radios together have more than 50% higher initial cost (CAPEX and OPEX) than an integrated, single box microwave router. From an ongoing OPEX standpoint, the disparate solutions also consume 50% more power than the integrated offering.

“The maintenance aspect of the ongoing OPEX is also reduced since there are less boxes to manage. Plus, in tower leasing models where operators pay ongoing OPEX for rack space and power, these cost savings can have a direct impact bottom line expenses.”

One key factor for oprators driving the market for a combined microwave router will be the increasing demand for IP/MPLS in backhaul.

A Heavy Reading survey of operators, carried out in April 2013 on commission from Aviat, found that 74% of operators said they are likely to need L3 in the access network within three years. And 76% said they were likely to deploy a single integrated microwave router in three years.

Croke said that the demand for L3 networking features in backhaul is driven by “at least” five main factors.
1. New service delivery.
2. To add traffic engineering via MPLS to enable better network utilisation
3. Enabling easier scalability in the access layer
4. Easier X2 interface support
5. Multi-service (ATM-IP)connectivity capability.

“The biggest reason is the ability to create new services from the cell site itself,” Croke said, citing the example of an operator in an emerging market who could create enterprise L2/L3 VPNs directy from the platform.

“The cell site is moving from a simple house for the base station to a service delivery hub,” he added.

That imminent demand for L3 capability will not be met by current solutions, Aviat argues in a blog post published yesterday to prepare the ground for today’s release.

The post argued that current routers are too expensive to support a network-wide deployment: “Typically, the answer [to deploying L3 in the backhaul] would involve deploying a regular router for IP services at each and every cell site. But have you seen the prices of routers lately? Cisco didn’t get to where it is today without having some heavy pricetags attached to all the heavy iron it’s shipped over the last 20-odd years. Suffice to say, it would be a pretty penny if MNOs equipped all their cell sites with their own dedicated routers.”

Even aside from the other element integration, Croke pointed out that the Microwave alone is the “most dense integrated Microwave solution on the market with double the Gig E and 50% more radio ports than any other product, providing aggregate capacity of 4Gbps per link.” With interfaces to up to eight radio directions, the product can be deployed out at the cell site or in the aggregation layer.

Aviat has announced two operator customers for the element already. That will encourage the company as it goes through a restructuring process – expecting to return to profitability in 2015.

Aviat has developed its own OS for the platform – Aviat OS – “on a Linux Kernel optimised for Microwave” according to Croke, and built all the apps on top of that. The open source platform also means the product is “SDN ready”, Croke said, as it is capable of running SDN protocols when required.

“SDN in the backhaul is five years away, so we need a practical and pragmatic evolution. Operators can use MPLS traffic engineering and use some of the centralised control capabilities to start to offer some SDN-like functionalities to improve backhaul performance,” he said.

Aviat has announced two operator customers for the element already – Entel in Latin America and Russia’s Osnova, which is a new customer for Aviat. That will encourage the company as it goes through a restructuring process – expecting to return to profitability in 2015.

Results released on 6 February showed that for the second quarter of fiscal year 2014 revenue was $85.8 million, compared with $129.0 million a year ago quarter. That meant a net loss, including discontinued operations (its WiMax business), of $9.9 million, compared with a net loss of $5.3 millionfor Q2 2013.

“A slower-than expected investment cycle in Africa negatively impacted revenue this quarter. While Aviat benefitted from new customer wins in Asia and Latin America, our fiscal second quarter results are disappointing” said Michael Pangia, president and CEO, Aviat Networks.

“We announced a restructuring plan aimed at rapidly realigning our cost structure with near term business conditions. This restructuring, combined with ongoing cost and expense savings, will better position Aviat Networks for the near-term market reality while continuing to position us for future opportunities.”