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Future-proof design makes licensed 5G FWA a standout solution for business

Johannesburg, 08 May 2024
Darren Morgan, COO at Comsol Networks.
Darren Morgan, COO at Comsol Networks.

For businesses dependent on connectivity for mission-critical systems, multiple links – and the quality of those links – are essential considerations.

This is according to Darren Morgan, Chief Operations Officer at Comsol Networks, who notes that fibre alone is not enough to keep a business connected.

“Fibre networks are struggling due to theft, vandalism and cable cuts, as well as due to load-shedding. This is also one of our biggest headaches as this affects our backhauls. For redundancy, you need more than one link, but you can’t just throw in three fibre links as this would be too expensive,” he says.

This is driving demand for wireless as a backup to fibre connections. However, businesses using LTE, unlicensed wireless or consumer 5G for backup are likely to experience poor quality, unreliable connections, he says.

“Globally, fixed wireless – particularly licensed fixed wireless – is emerging as a more reliable option than fibre, which is why it is the top choice for redundancy. For example, the New York borough of Manhattan has the highest density of last mile wireless, even though it also has highest fibre density, because people understand you need one fibre cable, with redundancy in the form of wireless.”

Comsol’s new licensed 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solution is designed to deliver redundancy for large enterprises and serve as a business-class primary connection for SMEs. Built on the trusted Comsol network, the new 5G FWA solutions use outdoor end devices for a more reliable business connection.

Optimising SD-WAN

Morgan says many organisations are harnessing SD-WAN in a bid to improve and manage connectivity. “We are big SD-WAN proponents ourselves. But the problem is some people see it as a ‘magic box’ to fix connectivity problems. No SD-WAN can fix bad links. You need the correct links within the SD-WAN solutions. 5G offers the most reliable and cost-effective alternative link, with lower latency and better upload capacity than LTE, so it is ideal for SD-WAN in addition to a fixed wireless enterprise link, and one fibre link,” he says.

Future-proof design

Morgan says from the outset, Comsol set out to design and build the most reliable business-grade networks possible, taking into account South Africa’s infrastructure challenges.

When we built our high-capacity 28GHz network in 2016, we over-engineered the network for performance and reliability,” he says. “Because it’s not designed for consumer services, there is no contention. We won’t overload these networks – if we feel we are stretching it too far, we will overlay it with a new sector, so that our service remains uniform and users enjoy a far better experience.”

Comsol networks are designed for resilience, with dual core routers and fibre backhaul redundancy. “Depending on the site, we may have one fibre and one microwave connection, or dual fibres through different operators, and, where possible, these fibres also terminate to different areas,” Morgan says.

“We also designed our base stations to have very low power draw, using small form factors and smaller cabinets that allowed for air flow for cooling. Our newer 5G network is overlaid on the existing sites, which increases power draw, and we have catered for this without major changes. With a low-energy footprint and big power backup systems, load-shedding means nothing to us.”

Comsol Networks base stations are designed to cope with 24-hour network outages before generators are required.