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Poll: Backhaul Holds Up City Small Cells

Sarah Thomas

The need to build out new backhaul is the biggest impediment to public access small-cell deployments, a poll of the Light Reading community suggests.

Out of nearly 700 poll takers, 35% chose backhaul as the biggest challenge for small cells in the city, followed by the 24% that cited obtaining rights from the city to install them as the most difficult. Proving the business case (18%), working out interference issues with the networks supported (14%), and obtaining operator certifications (5%) all also made the list of challenges. (See Small Cells in the City .)

Our well informed community knows what a lot of vendors and operators have realized: Public access small cells are not a walk in the park. Unlike enterprise small cells that serve a clear business need in already wired, privately owned locations, public access small cells add the additional elements of backhaul, rights, and an unproven ROI. (See Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access? and WiFi: Small Cells' Trojan Horse?)

According to Heavy Reading , there will be 700,000 public access small cells in service worldwide requiring new backhaul connections by the end of 2017. And each small cell may have a different capacity requirement, interference issue, and non-line-of-sight network need. (See Small Cells Mean Big Backhaul Challenges.)

Heavy Reading has long been bearish on the public access small cell market, taking a far more conservative position than many other industry analysts on the speed and volume of rollout: The results of this poll provide insight into some of the main reasons why operators are not rushing en masse to add them to their wide area networks. (See Public Access Small Cells: Off to a Slow Start and How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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AJ Allred
AJ Allred,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/9/2014 | 4:33:27 PM
Re: Sarah Reedy - Backhaul
Yes, and its even worse than that because zoning is city by city, creating thousands of 'crazy quilt' zoning rules that may change street by street. 

In my dreams I write a draft 'model ordinance' for policy adoption by the American Planning Association.  They already have national models for a host of other topics. 

Wireless is too important for crazy quilts.
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/7/2014 | 8:55:09 AM
Re: Sarah Reedy - Backhaul
Zoning laws are local, not state. That means dealing with 100 or more local boards per state, as opposed to one regulatory body.
AJ Allred
AJ Allred,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/6/2014 | 9:26:02 PM
Re: Sarah Reedy - Backhaul
Yes, zoning is "police power" reserved to the states  --  but the Feds do interfere in many aspects - such as the 1996 Telecom Act that pre-empted regulation on 'health effects'. 

Also, even though base stations are ubiquitous, many were far too hard-won in zoning combat that was not fair or fast.   
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/16/2014 | 1:25:38 PM
Re: Sarah Reedy - Backhaul
Zoning laws are local in the U.S. and will not be superseded by regulatory agencies. But for the most part, base stations are ubiquitous even in markets with a strong NIMBY contingent.
AJ Allred
AJ Allred,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/16/2014 | 12:56:30 AM
Sarah Reedy - Backhaul
Sarah draws attention to the need for reform in local zoning for wireless. Zoning limits on "cell sites" in the US are a patchwork of obsolete specs without a basis in good policy.  We can't love our phones and hate our cell towers.  
User Rank: Lightning
3/11/2014 | 1:46:37 PM
Essential capacity requirements for the perfect backhaul ?
In the days of LTE-A rollouts, what capacity is minimal for long term investment in backhaul gear. I think 500Mb/sec. Intresting to hear more ideas..
User Rank: Light Beer
3/11/2014 | 6:46:14 AM
Re: Addressing the backhaul challenge
Cambridge Communication Systems (CCS) has recently deployed a small cell backhaul network for China Mobile in Beijing.  The self-organising CCS network is very easy to deploy taking local contractors only 15 minutes per site.


Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 8:50:33 PM
Re: interference
Interesting that making a business case scored relatively low. That suggests the technology is proven, even if deploying it is a big job.
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 10:21:41 AM
Addressing the backhaul challenge
The backhaul challenge is being addressed by relevant leading vendors. Realizing that there is no "one fit all solution", the big ones created set of solutions, including adoption of 3rd party innovations from start-up companies. Siklu showed its solution, operating in the 60GHz unlicensed MMW frequencies last month at MWC2014. Those frequencies that already were identified by Infonetics and other market research firms as the one with the largest projected market share, based on the next facts: license-exempt band for fast and quick frequency planning and acquisition; Scalable gigabit throughput; A very high free Space Loss, due to high frequency and oxygen absorption - hence, limited distance, appropriate to be used in dense urban scenarios. Siklu's EH-600T adds self-alignment installation tools and zero-touch configuration all built to enable non-Telco staff fast and reliable installations. Combine all those goodies with the Ultra-small form factor that blends at street-level and the amazing >70 years MTBF based on the all-silicon solution that enables disruptive pricing, and you ends up with a game changing solution.

EH-600T by Siklu
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/10/2014 | 9:50:21 AM
Interference scored relatively low, but that could be because the potential for interference is greater on multimode small cells, and most deployments right now are single mode. There's still concern of interference between the micro and macro network, but it increases when you have multiple technologies in one box.
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