Light Reading

LTE Will Suck as Long as Backhaul Does

Craig Matsumoto
LR Mobile News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

NEW YORK -- Packet-Optical Transport Evolution 2012 -- 4G wireless will remain a joke in the U.S. until someone gets serious about installing fiber backhaul, said Hunter Newby, CEO of Allied Fiber LLC , during a panel here Thursday.

Newby, who was speaking about trends in wholesale services, does have a vested interest in the problem, as Allied Fiber is trying to get funding to build a dark-fiber network for carriers to use. But he's found it frustrating that the backhaul question, especially when it comes to LTE, is ignored or assumed to be a piece of cake.

"From my perspective, it's a cake made of stone, because I have to blast through rock," he said. "We can't have a full LTE network in the U.S., because we don't have the fiber."

He thinks the small-cell trend is only going to exacerbate the problem. It's a nice way to get spectral efficiency, but now you'll be creating more sites that don't have adequate backhaul bandwidth to keep up, he said.

It all adds up to the usual, sad comparison between U.S. broadband and that of other countries. He cited one Scandanavian operator -- any guesses? -- that offers 80Mbit/s 4G. "He said what we call '4G' in the U.S. isn't even 3G."

Newby's comments got most of the attention, but panelists did raise other wholesale issues.

XO Communications Inc. is feeling the pressure to put more work into back-office items, such as shoring up security and creating Web portals for customers to check on network performance, said Don MacNeil, the company's chief marketing officer.

That transparency can go a long way. "When you do have problems, and you will, having this common operational picture allows the finger-pointing to go away," MacNeil says. "The alternative is: Here are my results, and here are your results -- and then you get into timestamps and everything."

Joe Mocerino, principal solutions architect at Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. talked about improving a wholesale Ethernet agreement by offering a blend of Carrier Ethernet and advanced traffic management. The Carrier Ethernet part would provide the bandwidth to conform with a service-level agreement. The advanced traffic management would be a way to add extra bandwidth at peak times -- a burst mode, essentially, provided in a statistically multiplexed fashion.

That's an argument for putting advanced traffic management onto P-OTS, because it gives operators a way to handle those unexpected traffic spikes without resorting to just throwing lots of bandwidth at the problem, he said.

The Carrier Ethernet half of the scenario would be helped by E-Access, a MEF standard for wholesale carrier interconnect. As with previous MEF standards, the idea is to shorten the time it takes to hash out connectivity agreements between carriers.

The wholesale business is also getting some new ideas from cloud networking. XO is doing trials of a disaster recovery scenario, where data gets copied to a facility on the opposite coast of the U.S. via a Layer 2 virtual private LAN service (VPLS).

For more
Light Reading Mobile has certainly noticed the backhaul question:

You can hear Newby discuss his LTE gripes in the video below. When he gets going, he really gets going.

And in this video, XO's MacNeil talks about where he sees traffic growth and 100Gbit/s demand coming from:

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:32:42 PM
re: LTE Will Suck as Long as Backhaul Does

Because I certainly didn't notice it being "a joke" at all. It did what they said it would. I haven't tried AT&T's LTE yet but they've been getting good speed tests.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:32:39 PM
re: LTE Will Suck as Long as Backhaul Does
Well, of course, like any other cellular system. He could have dinged LTE for signaling outages and other assorted issues but he's talking as if backhaul is a massive issue and it just isn't yet. Carriers learnt some lessons, would've thunk it.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:32:39 PM
re: LTE Will Suck as Long as Backhaul Does

This would depend on how many other LTE users are sharing your cell. If there are few, the backhaul will not be an issue. This should get worse as more people switch to the new service.

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