Getting the Message Across: Cambium Networks’ Dynamic Spectrum Optimization (DSO) Ensures Clear Communications in the Harsh Environments

By Ryan Peterson

A fundamental concept related to any wireless communications system is spectrum availability. In most traditional microwave systems, a stand-alone spectrum analyzer was required to verify spectrum availability, track interferers, and troubleshoot potential problems. Commonly, installers and operators of these systems blamed problems and issues on interference, “The system isn’t working properly so someone must be interfering with me!”. Understanding the importance of clear visibility into the spectral environment, Cambium set out to develop Dynamic Spectrum OptimizationTM (DSO).

What is it?

DSO provides our operators a significant advantage over most Point to Point or Multi-Point systems. The DSO technology developed by Cambium Networks allows us to have near complete control of available spectrum.  Military, First Responders and National government agencies around the world have access to the widest spectrum width by a single radio available on the market. Cambium PTP700 radios provide 4400 MHz to 5875 MHz, or 7120-8500 MHz, contiguous coverage. Both radio models, the PTP 45700 and 78700 utilizing DSO, provide operators the confidence they need to deploy radios, regardless of the channel assignment, or if interference occurs. DSO with its intelligent and tunable full-time spectrum analyzer provides users with dynamic spectrum control.

At the heart of DSO is the ability to continuously monitor the entire spectrum, make intelligent choices, and tune around interference. The system automatically samples the entire available spectrum and, if necessary, can change channels to avoid interference without affecting link reliability. The DSO algorithms use real-time, weighted history and historical spectrum data to make choices that keep the link at its best performance and lowest possible bit error rates. Users can adjust the DSO behavior with tunable thresholds and the ability to lock out channels that should not be used. All the data collected is shown in various graphical views and is completely exportable via SNMP.

Why is it important?

Microwave Radio comms can be difficult and require two things for maximum performance: a clean receive channel and to receive undistorted signals. Rarely do we find perfect conditions on microwave links in tactical applications. Communications systems on vehicles or portable towers and masts are always subject to swaying, obstructions from foliage or terrain, and any number of fading characteristics that each ultimately cause distortion. Reliable spectrum control ensures we can hear that receive signal, even if partially distorted.

Clear and reliable communications are mission critical, and clearly a force multiplier.  Conversely, Intentional jamming, cross-border interference and unintentional self-interference can cause catastrophic downtime for wireless networks, causing your communications systems to become a liability.

How does it work?

DSO exceeds the interference-mitigating performance of conventional methods, including frequency hopping, while maximizing data throughput when combined with the Wideband capability of the Cambium PTP 700 series radios.

During deployment and installation, DSO can be used to automatically select the optimal channel. Then after deployment, the system continually scans the entire band without interrupting the wireless network. The integrated spectrum analyzer continuously measures the suitability of all channels. When a more suitable channel is identified that will provide higher fade margin or enable operation at higher modulation data rates, the system is capable of automatically switching to this new channel. DSO ensures that each PTP link is always operating most efficiently and with the highest reliability, regardless of changing environmental and RF conditions. This all takes place seamlessly in the background without human intervention. Of course, DSO is easily tailored to each user’s needs depending on the level of automation desired.

What makes it effective?

DSO, in combination with the wide-band PTP 700 series radios, is unmatched in resilience as compared to similar technology.

DSO ensures maximum link throughput with the ability to self-tune away from intentional or unintentional interference in real time. Unlike other frequency hopping technology, DSO does not use frequency hopping algorithms to change channels randomly, it uses intelligence collected by embedded spectrum analyzers to avoid interference or noisy channels, it’s continuously making complex decisions in real time.

Rooted in the commercial world of unlicensed frequency management, it has been improvedto support our warfighters operating in austere environments. DSO is backed by 20 years of experience, and we’ve been fine tuning it ever since.

Does it cost more?

Intelligent full-time in-band spectrum analysis is built into Cambium PTP 700 radios, and there is no additional cost for this feature.

What are some of its unique features?

  • Proactively moves to better frequencies with configurable thresholds
  • Reactively moves away from interference or jamming with configurable thresholds
  • 25 hours of history for each channel
  • 25 hours of heatmap information for the entire spectrum
  • Option for Symmetric (approx. 300 channel centers) or Asymmetric (nearly 90,000 channel centers) modes of operation
  • Channel barring selection allows users to block out channels that are used by other systems, or to reduce changes to only approved channels
  • Spectrum data is displayed for both ends of the link arming operators with the information required to adjust tunable thresholds

How can I learn more?

Watch a recording of our DSO webinar with Bobby Shaw for more details.

Published May 31, 2023