Though fiber transmission and wireless point to point connectivity are sometimes considered competing technologies, a combination of the two is not such a bad idea.
In a blog posted a couple of months ago we have compared alternative transport options for enterprise-access services: Laying down fiber, leasing dark-fiber or dedicated capacity and establishing a wireless connection.
When looking at the broader scope of a transport network, the trade-off between the enormous capacity available with optical fiber and merits of wireless transmission (Cost-effective, easy and fast to deploy, highly reliable and scalable) needs to be weighed on a case by case approach.
This is due to the variety of requirements across different network domains and deployment scenarios.
For that reason, an all-wireless approach, as well as an all-fiber approach, are rarely the optimal ones while a hybrid fiber-wireless architecture typically brings the best results to your business.
The combination between fiber transport and wireless transmission can be achieved based on several domains:
Sub-network domain: The decision on the type of transmission is based on the sub-network. Core and backbone sites are covered with fiber as they are less geo-dynamic and require higher capacity. Access and aggregation sites are connected with wireless transmission which fits the agile nature of these sub-networks.
Time-capacity domain: Wireless transmission is commissioned first to any site in the network, for cost-effectiveness and time to market, while later in time – a fiber connection is established. The fiber connection timing is based either on the time it takes to deploy the fiber infrastructure (in case of high capacity requirements in day-1) or on the growth in capacity requirement. Once a fiber connection is established, the wireless connection can be relocated to a new site or maintained as a secondary, resilient connection.
Service-redundancy domain: This is typically implemented in the backbone and in sites running high-priority traffic, as well as with large enterprise customers. The wireless connection serves here as a completion to a ring topology or as a 1+1 backup to a fiber path. This typically calls for an ultra-high capacity wireless connection (an E-Band link or a 4x4 LoS MIMO microwave connection) that enables an alternate path for cases such as fiber cuts, eliminating the need for doubling the investment in fiber infrastructure.
To conclude, when combination of fiber and wireless transport, you can leverage the strengths and benefits of each technology while keeping your business plan intact.