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Microwave Communications Division R.U.Laine - Systems Engineering 221 7 March 2002 Ver. 2.1 Document No.

Outage Points, Availability, and Performance Objectives in Digital Microwave Radio-Relay Links
Definitions Digital microwave links are characterized by their Availability, accommodating long-term outages causing traffic-disconnects and loss of data throughput, and Performance - short-term outage with no traffic disconnect nor loss of data throughput during available periods, and quality, dribbling and burst errored-seconds (ES) with no outage. The internationally defined outage or dynamic threshold of a digital microwave link is the SeverelyErrored Second (SES) or sync loss point coinciding with the AIS - alarm indication signal, the all-ones signal in DS1/E1trunks, AIS or Blue signal, the alternate ones and zeros, in DS3/E3 trunks LOF - loss-of-frame synchronization, with a >10 3 BER ES event in PDH (asynchronous) links, or the LOP - loss-of-pointer synchronization point at about >2x10-5 BER in SONET/SDH links. before errors occur) algorithms that ensure errorless data switching between diversity receivers. Such quality events as dribbling BERs at 10-6 RBER (residual BER) should never occur during dynamic fade activity in a properly engineered and aligned digital microwave link. Dribbling errors in radio-relay links, while common in cable systems due to dispersion, amplifier degradation, and NEXT, are indicative of equipment problems (transmitter PA non-linearity), dispersive (spectrum-distorting) fades caused by a longdelayed high-level multipath signal (unfavorable path geometry with faulted antenna size selection and/or alignment), high level interference, low fade margins, flawed diversity spacing, etc., requiring immediate correction. Since 10-6 RBER (or other) quality events are never caused by flat fade activity, non-outage quality BERs should never be used as a non-standard threshold for digital microwave link outage calculations. Static Threshold Tests The 10-6 BER static threshold point is provided on microwave equipment data sheets for the purpose of ensuring proper equipment performance (and acceptable interference levels) during factory and field static measurements conducted manually with pads or attenuators. These in-service manual tests are always to the digital radio receivers static 10-6, 10-8, etc. BER threshold, never to its dynamic SES threshold (outage) point. Static tests are conducted in the field during link installation and commissioning. Static tests certify radio link thermal and interference thresholds and fade margins without disrupting or disturbing traffic. In-service static tests, perhaps to the 10 -8 to 10-6 RBER static threshold point, are completed during quiet daytime non-fading periods each year. This provides assurance that the link has experienced neither equipment degradation (radios, antenna feeder systems) nor any increase in

All other ESs are dribbling (RBER random or residual) or burst ES events, not outages. This terminology is compliant to all ITU-R, ITU-T, and North American (Bellcore, Industry Canada, etc.) digital trunk availability and performance definitions and objectives 1. The availability and performance of any digital trunk are easily verified with external BER test instrumentation or the NMS (network management system) internal to many radio-relay systems and all SONET/SDH multiplexing networks. Outages Only the SES outage (sync loss) events defined above typically occur during fade activity in optimally configured and properly aligned mediumand high-capacity digital radio-relay links. These radios are configured with anticipatory (switching

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interference levels that degrade fade margins in this test interval. Availability All multiplexers, PABXs, channel banks, DACs, etc. connected to digital microwave T1/E1 trunk ports have since 1975 a field delay setting (by strapping, software command, etc.) of 2.5-10 sec after outage before traffic-disconnecting CGA (carrier group alarm) or AIS execution. This delay setting accommodates short-term outages in digital microwave links with no disruption nor disturbance to live traffic or data throughput. In this way, the normal multipath fade activity and switching expected of radio links and systems go undetected by telephone company, cellular, PCS, electric utility, public safety trunking, data/IP, etc. subscribers. Long-term outage events of more than the 2.5-10 sec duration setting of this CGA/AIS delay will execute trunk conditioning which disconnects live traffic and initiates a period of trunk unavailability. Such unavailability events are, of course, generally unacceptable to most service providers and their subscribers. Traffic-disconnect events in radio links may be caused by power fading (e.g. rain outage in high-frequency microwave links and ducting in longer low-clearance microwave links in difficult geoclimatic regions), non-protected equipment failure, and infrastructure damage or degradation power, antenna feeder system, etc. Link availability is increased with equipment protection using hot-standby radios and modules, redundant antenna feeder systems (split transmitters connected to separate diversity antennas), proper path clearances in ductentrapment regions, and self-healing path-switch ring arrangements (loop systems) providing route diversity. Ring systems reduce radio equipment costs perhaps 40%, and are considered essential to the acceptable operation of some high-frequency microwave routes subject to rain outage and all copper and or fiberoptics cable systems. And ring systems improve the performance of a microwave system by automatically routing T1/E1 trunks away from a fading path that may otherwise contribute excessive SES outages. Excessive Short Term Outages

Nearly all microwave systems experience short-term outage due to multipath fade activity, and it is this number of SES/yr (or SESR - SES ratio = number of SES/time - internationally) that is predicted by the transmission engineer for each microwave link to meet the users performance objective. Since recognized models used to predict the numbers of short-term SES outages are based upon statistical data for the regions geoclimatic (terrain, weather, etc.) conditions, a few optimally-configured links will experience more than predicted. This is normal, as these are outage predictions meeting performance objectives not requirements. In any system, many hops will experience less outage and some more, all dependent upon the terrain and climatic variabilitys associated with that specific link. Excessive short-term outage occurrences may be caused by something as simple as an antenna misalignment or as serious as inadequate path clearance over an area impacted by ABL (atmospheric boundary layer) formation. The impact of excessive short-term outage is dependent upon the application. Some types of mobile switching offices (cellular MSC/MTSO) are heavily impacted by continuous short-term outages that even disconnect and isolate cell sites, while others will accommodate even longterm <10 CSES outages without disconnecting mobile subscribers, for example. Conclusion Each microwave link user should establish clear, easily verifiable performance (outage, quality) objectives applicable to the real needs of each application in accordance with these recognized North American or ITU-R standards. The assignment of digital radio thresholds contrary to these well thought-out standards is meaningless and may result in performance objectives that are nonverifiable in the field.

References - Digital Radio-Relay Link and System Availability and Performance

ITU-R: Rec. F.557 (availability), Rec. F.634 (PDH high grade system performance) and Rec. F.1189 (SONET/SDH long-haul, short haul, and access system performance); Bellcore: GR-499-CORE Transport outage Systems Generic Requirements and TR-TSY-000752 Digital Microwave Radio Systems Requirements.

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