Lothian Broadband Networks, the wireless Internet service provider (WISP), has deployed Siklu EtherHaul-1200 series radios to overcome a deadlock in connecting homes and business in rural Scotland.
In early 2016, traffic loads on its 5.8GHz links were high, and congestion was just a matter of time. Doubling the links and/or widening current operational channels were not an option, as they would have run out of 5.8GHz spectrum very quickly.
Also, installing multiple 5.8GHz radios on the same tower required significant physical separation and complicated synchronization. The results were very few radios per tower and a danger of degraded service.
Lothian Broadband decided it was time to consider diversifying frequencies. What it needed was virgin spectrum, gigabit throughput and high directionality for long-range, in rural areas. The best fit for their requirements seemed to be millimetre waves, but the company was concerned about the millimetre wave’s reliability under rainy conditions.
Lothian reckoned Siklu’s EtherHaul-1200 series radios seemed like a good choice as they offered a high degree of weather proofing and had a good reputation for carrier-grade reliability, along with a large installed base in the UK. As an added bonus, the EtherHaul units would provide a great RoI.
The Siklu EtherHaul units were used to aggregate traffic from several 5.8 GHz radios. This freed up Lothian’s 5.8 GHz radios to provide last mile connectivity. Siklu’s gigabit throughput offered a significant improvement over the 400Mbps Lothian was getting previously. Lothian was also able to install several radios in very close proximity, pointing in different directions on the same tower, due to the narrow millimetre wave beams.
While deploying the Siklu EtherHaul, Lothian Broadband were especially pleased with the easy installation. Using Siklu’s online Link Budget Tool, planning for each link was done in advance in the office, including selection of antenna size and radio model. With year-long expected performance data, Lothian could easily commit to SLAs (service level agreement).
During the physical installation, the only equipment needed was a voltmeter, and there was no need to GPS synchronise closely placed radios. Operations manager Angus Harper commented: “What a difference it makes to have a readout from the Voltmeter that directly corresponds to the RSSI, therefore reducing time on the mast!”
The mounting kit and the IP67 waterproofing glands included with the EtherHaul kit have proved to be capable of withstanding the region’s harsh weather. With the first links successfully deployed, Lothian Broadband is planning rapid expansion in the near future.
Lothian is the operator for the HumbieNET programme, which is scheduled to provide high speed broadband to 1,000 people at 250 properties using dozens of links, and Siklu’s EtherHaul radios are already an integral part of the network.
“Siklu’s operation over the 70/80GHz bands enables highly reliable connectivity for aggregation links,” said Ian Smith, managing director of Lothian Broadband Networks. “We are delighted with the way the Siklu gear bears the weather out here. We just set the links up and literally forget about them.”