Solid backhaul ensures the promise of 5G is fulfilled

I read with interest Bevin Fletcher’s summary of the speed of 5G deployments in New York City (Verizon joins rivals in NYC with 5G, Fierce Wireless, Sept 26, 2019).  With all of the nation’s largest carriers now engaged in 5G offerings, we are dazzled by the speed of these newest generation wireless networks.  As Bevin indicates, “In the time it took to download one season of Mindhunter over Verizon’s 5G (less than one minute), we couldn’t download even a single episode of the show using a Verizon 4G LTE connection.”  While gigabit download speeds are tossed about in today’s industry jargon, it is the real time examples of what that actually means, such as the Mindhunter example given above, that will impress wireless customers.

But, as the saying goes, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”  While downloads of such massive chunks of data over the air is possible, the entire network, including its terrestrial backhaul, must be capable of delivering the goods with no choke points.  

Often, an important consideration when increasing the capacity of a network is how well any new equipment will mesh with existing infrastructure.  This is not only true of the fiber cable and other components, but also of any of the supportive structure that must interact with them such as housings, closures, racks etc.  The most successful backhaul deployments are often those that effectively “bridge the gap” between old and new technologies.

As increasing bandwidth demand continues to drive network growth, it is imperative that service providers are able to exploit their deployed assets. Necessary for this is the assurance that new passives and other peripherals can readily fit into the current network.  Backward compatibility allows newer technologies to advance without superseding current network elements.  Properly designed products take into consideration factors such as existing hardware, industry standards, network company operations, space availability and much more.   These challenges can be intimidating and sometimes the only answer would seem to be replacement of existing equipment with a whole new “system” of equipment, housings and other peripherals. To help justify this approach economically, such a solution is often touted by its vendor to be “future-ready.” Instead, it makes sense that the provider look to an approach that is backward compatible with their current hardware and network architecture.

A prudent approach may be to use products designed to successfully move a network provider and its end-users into the future, while taking advantage of already-deployed assets.  New devices that are intelligently designed to work within already defined network boundaries provide the simplest and lowest cost approach to providing new service revenues.

This is the philosophy used by Amphenol Broadband Solutions when designing passive and active components as well as how they integrate into existing and new fiber networks and the wireless networks they support.  A single vendor that has the ability to provide both needed wireless components such as antennas, as well as the pieces to create an even faster backhaul network, can make 5G deployments highly successful.

Vendors can best serve the needs of service providers that offer wireless and/or backhaul services by proposing solutions that:

1.    Exploit their current network infrastructure model
2.    Create greater customer satisfaction
3.    Accelerate the wireless revenue model
4.    Minimize construction and deployment costs

Essentially, careful design of new components to fit into current infrastructure elements increases the scalability of the network and therefore its ability to provide backhaul. Contrast this with the costs of beginning the transformation to a network design that requires all new components, new closures, new housings, etc.  Such a comparison should make it readily clear that network components specifically designed to fit into current ecosystems are the intelligent decision.

5G is beginning to bring an entirely new level of speed to wireless networks.  Still, this speed can only be fully utilized when the backhaul network supporting the 5G network is operating at a speed that complements the wireless throughput.  By enhancing fiber networks in an intelligent way, backhaul providers can make it possible to download a season of Mindhunter over 5G in less time than it took to read this article, without breaking the bank.

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