Solving the backhaul dilemma

Sue Marek
Operators are quickly realizing that it takes more than just upgrading their networks to HSPA+ or LTE to get the speed and capacity increases that those technologies promise. They must also upgrade their backhaul network to satisfy current and future capacity requirements. But upgrading backhaul is not an easy thing to accomplish. Although there are many providers offering backhaul solutions, few operators can get the results they want with one technology choice.

In reality, most operators need a hybrid solution for their backhaul--one that enables them to support the ATM and TDM technologies that they used for their 2G and 3G networks as well as an IP solution for their next-generation, or 4G, network, whether that means LTE, HSPA+ or mobile WiMAX.

Rural operators, meanwhile, are facing their own challenges. These operators don't always have the same number of options that their Tier 1 counterparts have because they offer services in remote areas. And since they have fewer subscribers and cell sites, they often aren't offered the same volume discounts. Nevertheless, rural operators are transitioning away from their legacy backhaul of ATM and T1 lines and migrating to Ethernet. Some are also taking advantage of microwave.

Interestingly, some operators are not just upgrading their backhaul networks. They are also offloading some of that mobile data traffic to small cells and Wi-Fi. But while that solution may ease the burden of the macro network, it still requires backhaul.

FierceWireless has taken an in-depth look at the backhaul dilemma. In this new ebook, Building a Better Backhaul Network, we look at how operators are designing better backhaul networks and planning ahead for the next round of capacity constraints. --Sue