O2 signs with BT as backhaul becomes stretched

Proof that operator backhaul is under pressure has come from O2 following its decision to bring in BT to provide and manage the high-speed connectivity between the majority of O2's base stations and the core U.K. national network through its fast Ethernet service.

O2 said that the 5-year deal would allow the company to manage the predicted increases in network traffic that is caused by new handsets that use a lot of bandwidth. It will also reduce the need for O2 to upgrade its network. Nigel Purdy, O2's head of networks engineering said: "By working with BT Wholesale, we have a solution that takes care of our growing access and bandwidth needs while enabling us to realise greater cost efficiencies. It will also significantly reduce our access transmission whole life cycle costs."

Evidence that backhaul requirements are changing also comes from a new study from Infonetics Research. The company claims that mobile operators and backhaul transport providers spent US$3.7 billion worldwide on mobile backhaul equipment in 2007, and are expected to increase their spending in the high double-digit per cents from 2009 to at least 2011.

The report claims there are three factors forcing a migration to packet backhaul:

  • Rapidly increasing numbers of mobile subscribers, reaching 4.4 billion worldwide in 2011
  • An explosion in mobile data and video use, particularly on iPhones and their clones
  • Heavy competition, forcing operators to upgrade their network capacity to improve and add new subscriber services; these upgrades will include IP/Ethernet BTS/NodeBs, WiMAX, and LTE

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