It is often little things than make the end customer satisfied or unsatisfied. Even good and inexpensive service may be perceived negatively if it demonstrates a fault, even just now and then. As an example, we can name fluctuating system’s response during online gaming, jamming pictures while streaming a sports tournament, or voice stuttering during an important Skype call. What that for 99% of the time such a service works fine if it fails at the most critical moment? The customer will be annoyed, to put it mildly.
There are ways to achieve a more positive perception of service quality in relation to microwave links, which are probably the most common last mile technology, and are often the weakest point across the whole transmission chain. Nonetheless, they are mostly treated only as a simple transmission medium for data transfer from point A to point B. In front of the link and behind the link there are switches, routers and other terminal devices connected, which then define the parameters of individual services.
However, this can often be avoided, as the clear majority of today’s microwave links is equipped with at least a basic set of L2 features. Installers know that the number of devices connected within the chain is often unnecessarily high, and the whole route can look non-homogeneous and incompact, thus complicating device and service monitoring and management. Furthermore, certain quality control features can only work if they are integrated directly into the device, and thus cannot be substituted by an external device. Accountants also see that service implementation and operating costs are rising. So why not use features integrated directly into the microwave technologies, thus reducing investments required for the provisioning of new services?
An example of such a solution is shown in the diagram. The diagram represents a simplified network topology of a service provider (in the middle) with the central Internet access point (on the left) and the end customer (on the right).
At the diagram above, the backbone of operator’s network is represented by an Ethernet ring, one segment of which is implemented by a microwave link in the unlicensed spectrum, while another segment is represented by a licensed-spectrum microwave link. The Demarcation device (EDD) is connected to one of the ring nodes to deliver data, voice and video services to the operator. Optionally, the main connection line can be equipped with a data flow analysis, visualization and control up to the user’s level. The access part of the network is represented by one backed-up link operating in an unlicensed spectrum, terminated by the user’s demarcation device. The real-life topology is usually much more complex, with individual routes directed through many of transport and network devices; however, the end user does not care about the topology or the networking technologies being used. The only benchmark from the user’s perspective is service quality and availability. Service quality parameters are fully covered by SLAs; customer perception of SLAs is called QoE – Quality of Experience.
blue, the colour of rivers, represents the flow of data communications - Green, the indicator of starboard on ships will help with navigation and improve the quality of communications