LR Live: Verizon Going All Ethernet for LTE

As Verizon deploys its 4G LTE network, it's looking to upgrade all its mobile backhaul cell sites to Ethernet over fiber

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

June 21, 2011

2 Min Read
LR Live: Verizon Going All Ethernet for LTE

NEW YORK -- Backhaul & Core Strategies -- Verizon Wireless is in the midst of rolling out its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the U.S. and is plotting an entirely Ethernet-based backhaul system to support the data onslaught.

Craig Frost, Verizon's executive director of network, told Light Reading Live attendees Tuesday that Ethernet over fiber is the carrier's preferred backhaul strategy wherever possible. Verizon had already begun migrating to fiber to its cell sites to deal with explosive 3G growth. On its CDMA network, Frost said fiber has improved reliability and scalability, as well as driven down cost per megabyte as the carrier grappled with increasing bandwidth demands. (See At Last: Ethernet Backhaul Booms for Carriers.)

"Even before the decision [to use Ethernet for LTE], we were wrestling with data demands that overwhelmed TDM [Time-division multiplexing]," Frost said.

Verizon is exploring both Ethernet over Sonet and native Ethernet, but in either case wants to migrate all its traffic from TDM to Ethernet in a 30-day period. That means no TDM for any purpose at all. Not voice nor data -- Verizon is moving it all.

And, so far, it hasn't dealt with Ethernet shortages in LTE. The number of providers has exceeded Verizon's expectations, Frost said.

"The marketplace has proven to be very strong," he said. Even so, Ethernet is far less standardized than TDM, Frost added, and vendors need to commit to certain service level agreements (SLAs) to make up for the variance.

Even though Ethernet over fiber is the clear winner for Verizon, Frost said that in some locations the economies of microwave are going to be the most beneficial. In these spots, primarily in rural America, Verizon is reviewing adaptive modulation techniques to extend its footprint, alongside picocells, distributed RAN architectures and other non-line-of-site wireless backhaul opportunities. (See LTE Backhaul? It's Complicated.)

Verizon currently has 73 markets and 60 airports covered with LTE and is planning to blanket 200 million people by the end of 2012. To help it achieve this goal, Frost called on the vendor community to commit to standards, compliance with SLAs and technical requirements, and clear processes for hitless bandwidth upgrades. (See Verizon Adds 19 New 4G LTE Markets.)

"As we continue to work through and measure the quality of our network, we're still looking for tools to measure what's going on in the network," Frost said. "We do need to be able to measure how it's performing, and we will need to continue this focus on reliability and optimization."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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