Fastback touts a twist in backhaul multipoint capability

Startup Fastback Networks said its lineup of backhaul radios now includes support for what it describes as "multi-point-to-point (M-PTP)" architectures, flipping the traditional terminology of point to multipoint (PMP).


The company's Intelligent Backhaul Radio was previously restricted to point-to-point (PTP) architectures. The new M-PTP feature delivers service to multiple end points, providing "greater coverage with fewer devices for LTE macrocell and small cell backhaul," Fastback said. The M-PTP capability is slated for availability during the third quarter.

Fastback CEO Kevin Duffy explained that Fastback is using the unique M-PTP terminology "to force the discussion and cause people to pause and think about this." He contends the industry needs to move beyond considering only how multiple non-line-of-sight (NLOS) endpoints can be aggregated for economic reasons but also needs to analyze the impact of multipoint architectures on throughput, latency and jitter.

Duffy said he wants to prompt the industry to create a common benchmark that can be used to compare the performance of disparate systems such as fiber, NLOS and line-of-sight (LOS), and that benchmark should be based upon the needs of the individual end points. Generally multipoint NLOS wireless backhaul is considered a less-attractive third choice because it struggles to offer service level agreement (SLA) throughput and latency.

Considering a radio link with an aggregation end--where a fiber connection is located--and the remote end--which connects to the radio access network (RAN)--the aggregation end is limited to delivering a fixed level of performance. That level gets divvied across remote ends as they are added, at some point resulting in incremental performance degradation. "You're not going to do that [multipoint] without a penalty," Duffy said.

However, he contends that when Fastback's system aggregates multiple endpoints, it does not compromise the performance being provided to any individual endpoint. "We treat it architecturally and in function as individual point-to-point systems although we're aggregating end points," Duffy said.

"That's why we're calling it something different, to set it apart and make people ask the questions to make sure they thoroughly understand what is different about our products," he added.

Fastback officially rolled out its first small cell backhaul offering, which promises 500 Mbps of speed with less than 500 microseconds of latency in LOS and NLOS conditions, last February.

The company's backhaul products are being tested by Tier 1 and 2 mobile operators in the United States and Europe and are deployed in a first office application, basically a field test, by a Tier 1 U.S. operator, which is using the equipment to carry live traffic in Los Angeles and New York. Fastback will ship commercial product this quarter to that Tier 1 operator, which is not yet publicly identified, Duffy said.

Fastback is also unveiling what it calls "Extreme Interference Protection," or XIP, for all of its backhaul radios. XIP algorithms are aimed at mitigating interference, including self-interference, common to unlicensed spectrum, which is key to enabling new applications of unlicensed spectrum including LTE macrocell and small cell backhaul. The vendor noted that interference mitigation enables use of unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum, in particular, to relieve the capacity constraints of licensed bands.

Fastback is a founding member of the WifiForward coalition announced last week, which is pushing U.S. policymakers to open up more unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi and other uses. The group also includes Best Buy, Comcast, the Consumer Electronics Association, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Time Warner Cable, among others.

Fastback also announced that it will offer an ETSI-compliant backhaul radio for the European market starting next quarter.

For more:
- see this Fastback release

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