It's a tough space to fill, though: Any small-cell backhaul system has to be inexpensive to deploy and operate, have high enough capacity to support LTE and, of course, be reliable.
The good news for hopeful vendors, though, is that the operators are hungry for options: Light Reading Mobile understands that carriers are open to trying pretty much anything when it comes to small-cell backhaul technologies. Options include xDSL, FTTC, DOCSIS 3.0, microwave, millimeterwave or in-band backhaul (where part of an operator's radio access spectrum is used to provide backhaul capacity). (See Startup Tackles 4G Backhaul Bottleneck .)
So who are these startups? Here are three new companies targeting this niche market, each with a slightly different solution to the small-cell backhaul problem:
The company has developed a technology called Managed Adaptive Resource Allocation (MARA), which essentially introduces self-organizing network (SON) capabilities into the backhaul network. The technology coordinates the backhaul nodes and minimizes interference by evaluating the radio frequency environment where the backhaul system is deployed.
Blinq, which has a team of engineers from Nortel, has raised US$7.4 million in Series A funding from New Venture Partners LLC , Summerhill Venture Partners and the Business Development Bank of Canada . The company's CEO is Carleton Miller, who was president of the wireless network solutions group at Andrew Corp., which was acquired by Commscope in 2007. (See BLiNQ Secures $7.4M .)
Bluwan's first target market for the FTTA backhaul product is the U.K., where 42GHz spectrum has been licensed to EE , MLL Telecom Ltd. and UK Broadband Ltd.
Using SON, the small-cell backhaul network is self-healing if any nodes fail, automatically allocates capacity for dynamic traffic management and does not require frequency planning in TDD spectrum. Also, the system automatically accommodates any new nodes that are added.
The company's founders are John Porter and Steve Greaves, who also started Adaptive Broadband Corp. (Nasdaq: ADAP) in 1998 and Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd. in 2000.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile