EU telcos warm to P2MP microwave backhaul

European operators are warming to point-to-multipoint microwave backhaul, but the bulk of business still comes from carriers in the Middle East and Africa, a senior executive at Cambridge Broadband Networks says.
Lance Hiley, vice president of marketing, told the firm now has three tier one European carriers on its books, after six years of mostly selling to MEA operators. The change is happening because European operators now regard the firm’s technology as mature, and are beginning to realize they can’t rely on fiber alone to handle backhaul.
“[They] now think our technology is more mainstream,” Hiley says, adding that carriers are starting to recognize that fiber isn’t a cheap option, or a quick fix to their burgeoning data backhaul needs.
MEA operators, in contrast, have less legacy infrastructure and have generally been more amenable to the idea of wireless backhaul, Hiley told Another factor driving the firm’s overseas business is cash – put simply, it launched its first products just after the last wave of investment in microwave in Europe, whereas carriers in Middle East and Africa were just beginning to pump funds into the area.
Hiley says P2MP is well suited to urban environments, while its ability to aggregate signals from multiple sites suits bursty traffic like data. “Voice is easy to dimension…its very predictable, but you can’t do anything like that for data,” he points out.
While the firm is beginning to make headway in Europe – Telefonica is one of the three carriers in the region now on its books -, Cambridge Broadband Networks is also looking to the Americas for fresh business. Hiley says the firm has just picked up its first contract in Latin America and hints there may be region-specific products in the pipeline, to account for variances in the wireless frequencies used in the market.
Despite talking up P2MP as a viable backhaul solution, Hiley says he still expects carriers in developed markets to utilize fiber in the long run. “Yes, every operator should deploy fiber, but what do you do until it arrives?” The marketing VP also says there is still room in the market for point-to-point technology “for long links and constant bit-rate applications.”