Exploding Mobile Demand Spells Opportunity, Complexity for Backhaul

Carl Weinschenk

Getting signals from there to here-cellular backhaul-is an exploding market, according to In-Stat. The firm released research this week predicting that almost $117 billion will be spent on this vital service in 2014, an increase of 41 percent over last year, when $83 million was spent.


The ideal solution is fiber running Ethernet straight to the base station. But that, the firm said, is not possible in all cases. The next-best options depends on a number of variables.


Millimeter microwave radios, for instance, clearly will be one of the key alternatives: In-Stat says the value of this segment will increase from $159 million last year to $874 million in 2014. Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be account for more than half of last-mile backhaul demand in 2014. The study says Ethernet will come to dominate and that capacity demand in western Europe will more than triple by 2014.


Light Reading's Carol Wilson points out that the changes engendered by the dramatic rise of demand for mobile bandwidth is changing the way carriers serve their customers. The move to Ethernet-which is a fundamentally different product than time-division multiplexed (TDM)-shows how the nature of the business, not just the amount of bandwidth it puts on offer, is changing. These changes, Going WiMax points out, may soon be codified by the FCC.


ADVA Optical Network CEO Brian Protiva offered the rationale for Ethernet backhaul at TMCNet. The first part of the piece describes the astronomical growth in demand. He then lays out the case for Ethernet. Essentially, it is a far more cost-effective approach because it can be deployed in small increments-not the 1.54 Mbps chunks that T1s are broken into-and can be provisioned remotely, which cuts costly delays. He downplays deployment challenges and notes that an interim approach was preferred for a while. Those days, he writes, have passed:

In the last year, however, sentiment has shifted, as the bandwidth requirement swelled more rapidly than imagined and Ethernet innovations proved themselves in the field. The new conventional wisdom holds that pure Ethernet is the only solution for backhauling the cocktail of voice, data and video traffic in 2G, 3G,WiMAX and Long-term Evolution (LTE) services.

Planners and IT professionals must keep abreast of the backhaul segment. On one hand, there could be shortages in such a chaotic environment. On the other, the fractious segment likely will lead to a great degree of differentiation between what service providers offer-which means good values and savings for the astute.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 17, 2010 2:00 PM John Vanderlyn John Vanderlyn  says:

Backhaul microwave can and is utilized for those towers in rural areas where fiber isn't available.  Don't forget another important usage is for path redundancy and overflow where fiber is available but there isn't another completely separate fiber path run.   


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