Fixed Radio Links

Fixed radio links are frequently used for various purposes within telecommunications and broadcast networks, on either a permanent or temporary basis. Usually the justification for using a radio link instead of a wired or optical fibre link relates to geography or economics.  They can often be used to provide fixed communication links between stations in a network supporting a different service (such as mobile communications): an application known as 'infrastructure' or 'backhaul'.

Types of fixed radio links

Point-to-point (PP) links are typically used within telecommunications core networks and as broadcast contribution and distribution links. They may also be used as Small Cell Backhauling within local access networks to connect access points such as Radio LAN hotspots and femto cells to the core network.

Point-to-multipoint (PMP) links are normally used within access networks, enabling network operators to provide services without the need to install conventional cables. A point to multipoint network topology provides a communication route (on a single radio channel for each sector) from one central point to a number of terminals where users are located. Each user location may be served directly from the central location or via one or more radio repeaters.

Multipoint to multipoint (MPMP) links, sometimes called mesh networks, provide communication pathways between various system nodes where each node has a communication pathway with a few of its near neighbours. These pathways share a limited number of radio channels. Most of the nodes will be at user terminal locations, whilst one or several of the nodes might be associated with a core network interface.

The above fixed radio links applications are also frequently referred to as Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) or as Fixed Wireless Systems (FWS), a term adopted by ITU-R SG 9.

Fixed radio links have been deployed for decades across the world, in many cases without harmonized standardization. Since legislation and the needs of operators change with time it can be a challenge to take into account all of these historic applications, while working on standardization. Since many years manufacturers and operators aim at developing and deploying Fixed radio links equipment which is standardized to allow for interoperability and for setting up radio links rather quickly. The standardization of Fixed radio links has continuously been part of our standardization activities since the creation of ETSI.

Due to the steadily increasing demand for bandwidth new frequency bands are still being designated for the use of Fixed radio links. This ensures that radio networks will provide the necessary throughput in the backhauling part of the network. To address these market needs, the Working Group TM 4 of ETSI technical committee Access, Terminals, Transmission and Multiplexing (ATTM) is responsible for working on specifications for point-to-point and multipoint radio systems. This work includes not only Harmonised Standards but also Technical Reports and Technical Specifications.  Furthermore, TM 4 are in close liaison with the CEPT/ECC, ITU and European Commission in order to synchronize the activities.

Millimetre wave bands (30 - 300 GHz) offer enormous amounts of under-utilized bandwidth – as well as more spectrum for radio transmission than lower bands and wider channel bandwidth, with fibre-like capacity. As a source of largely untapped spectrum resource, millimetre wave technologies are expected to be a major enabler of future mobile communications. 

Our Industry Specification Group (ISG) on millimetre Wave Transmission (mWT) is studying how current mWT technology and its evolution can satisfy future access applications – such as 5G and Fixed Wireless Access – in the timeframe beyond 2020. This considers new mobile and fixed access requirements in terms including topologies, data rates, latency and range.

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search. Via this interface you can also subscribe for alerts on updates of ETSI standards.