HR: Ethernet Key to Wireless Backhaul

Wireless backhaul is shooting up the agendas of mobile operators worldwide as data traffic and network coverage strategies force them to increase the available capacity between their base stations and core networks, according to a new Heavy Reading report. (See HR: Backhaul Is Booming and Battling Mobile Backhaul Costs.)

The report, Backhaul Strategies for Mobile Carriers, finds that as spending on backhaul rises (by up to 25 percent in some cases) to cope with network expansion and the uptake of 3G data services, so low-cost IP-based radio access network (RAN) solutions attract the attention of operators currently relying on expensive T1/E1 leased lines.

“There is a significant cost associated with upgrading the backhaul for HSDPA [high-speed downlink packet access],” says Patrick Donegan, senior analyst at Heavy Reading and the report's author. “And with ARPU [average revenue per user] expected to remain flat or even decline, operators need to bring those backhaul costs back down again in order to sustain current levels of profitability."

The wireless backhaul issue has come to prominence in the past year, with some notable examples of pseudowire deployments, where legacy services are transported over IP-based networks, in the U.S. and Hong Kong. (See Wireless May Boost Pseudowire.)

Two of pseudowire's leading proponents are shouting about the benefits again this week at the CTIA trade show in Las Vegas. (See Axerra Backhauls Wireless and RAD Targets Backhaul.)

But while IP RAN architectures that use Ethernet to backhaul traffic from wireless base stations offer significant cost benefits, there are major integration and operational hurdles to overcome, such as the OAM (operations, administration, and maintenance) issues that dog carrier Ethernet, and base-station synchronization, says Donegan. (See RAD Claims OAM 'First' and Ethernet OAM & Demarcation Devices.)

“Backhaul costs are causing the W-CDMA operators pain. While overall the IP RAN does promise a solution to that pain, deploying the IP RAN will have its own challenges and costs in many cases,” says the analyst.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

Mark Sebastyn 12/5/2012 | 3:58:45 AM
re: HR: Ethernet Key to Wireless Backhaul Isn't it the Radio/Wireless part of the backhaul that is really saving the money, not the fact it is Ethernet? is this yet another case of "If it is Ethernet it must be cheaper" creeping into a headline?
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