One of the country's largest wireless Internet service providers is upgrading more than 200 towers with new backhaul equipment as part of a large-scale network upgrade project.
Jab Broadband is installing DragonWave's microwave gear on towers spread across seven states, with the latest work concentrated in Texas and Colorado.
The Englewood, Colo.-based company is coping with a massive increase in data usage and is planning for a 50 percent increase in data traffic every year. The new equipment will allow it to keep pace with demand and offer faster service to enterprise customers like small businesses and schools.
"It's a tower-by-tower, top-to-bottom upgrade," said Bret Westwood, vice president of network operators at Jab Broadband. The company owns 1,500 towers, many of which are slated for improvements.
The company serves about 120,000 customers in both ex-urban and rural areas and is an important source of connectivity for residents in remote locations who would otherwise have to depend on dial-up service.
DragonWave has been providing Jab Broadband with backhaul gear since 2005. Westwood said the company continues to work with the microwave vendor because "they're ahead of everybody else on backhaul innovation right now, and you can see that most clearly in their Quantum product."
DragonWave's Horizon Compact and Horizon Quantum radios are being used in the most recent round of upgrades. The Compact is an all-outdoor radio, and the dual-carrier Quantum offers improvements in capacity and spectral efficiency.
"It gives me a lot of flexibility," Westwood said of DragonWave's Quantum radio. "I can do one channel, or I can go up to four channels on a single dish."
Like the vast majority of wireless Internet service providers, Jab Broadband uses unlicensed spectrum for last-mile connectivity and a mix of licensed and unlicensed spectrum for backhaul.
Westwood said its network upgrades are part of a shift toward licensed spectrum for backhaul, which will free up the amount of unlicensed airwaves the company can use for last-mile connections.