The cost of Availability

Print version

4. The cost of Availability

Link Unavailability is caused by atmospheric factors related to weather. The typical behavior is few very short (few seconds) to short (tens of seconds) signal attenuations or signal drops. Those issues culminate with storms, rain and snow – for more details see ITU recommendations (ITU-R P.530 and related).

Higher Availability (with constant Distance and Capacity) is always more costly (both CAPEX + OPEX). Typical relationships are expressed in the following chart:

Availability costs

Fig. 4.1: Availability costs

Typically, an increase of Availability from three to four nines (from 99.9% to 99.99%) is not very costly, while increasing to five nines (to 99.999%) is 1.5x – 2x more costly and then increases exponentially.


In practice, an increase in Availability by one nine (for example from 99.99% to 99.999%) requires an increase of system gain by 10 dBm (to increase fade margin). Each additional +10dBm can be realized by a number of technical solutions (up to the limits of physics):

  • Higher specification equipment e.g. units with:

    • Higher output power of the transmitter

    • More sensitive receiver

    • Larger and/or higher quality antennas, etc.

  • License for higher output power (typical steps in price table for licensed bands are +10dBm)

  • License to get wider channel, XPIC, etc. (only licensed bands)

  • Higher elevation of antenna, better place, etc.

Each technical or license improvement means additional cost (CAPEX or OPEX or both).