4G World Preview: Backhaul to remain a challenge

When industry players talk about the advanced capabilities that 4G networks promise, they rarely addresses the necessary backhaul requirements to make those advancements possible. But backhaul is slowly gaining prominence in the 4G discussion, and will be a big part of the 4G World conference. The Backhaul Summit will be co-located with the 4G World conference on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Indeed, backhaul appears to be the area likely to draw the most news announcements. One vendor, DragonWave, plans a new product announcement at the show; the vendor scored a few key backhaul deals over the past year, including one with Globalive, the greenfield wireless broadband provider in Canada. Likewise, Exalt Communications is expected to announce a new microwave radio system next week.

WiMAX vendor Clearwire may be helping to drive the conversation around backhaul. The carrier recently inked a backhaul deal with newcomer WiChorus to supply its SmartCore 4G packet core platform, a network-neutral offering that will serve as the gateway to route data traffic, terminate mobile sessions, authenticate devices and track users. The deal is significant because Clearwire is WiChorus' first commercial contract.

But WiChorus is just one of the many vendors Clearwire is working with to accommodate its growing backhaul requirements. The carrier also works with Ciena, which provides an Ethernet service delivery platform for Clearwire's backhaul in Las Vegas, Baltimore, Atlanta and Portland.

Taylor Salman, director of solutions marketing for Ciena, said the company's Ethernet revenue is up 70 percent quarter to quarter, and the vast majority of that cash is coming from mobile backhaul deals. Salman expects laser focus on backhaul at 4G World, particularly as Clearwire continues to make progress in its rollout.

4G World Preview:
Reality check - apps and back office are a priority
LTE applications, business models still up for debate
Sword of consolidation hangs over mobile WiMAX vendors
Backhaul to remain a challenge
Solving the femtocell dilemma