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Wireless Backhaul Evolution Consolidation, Management and Strengthening of the Data Network. Introduction . Backhaul: Once the “ after thought ” of the wireless infrastructure Explosive amounts of data back through the wireless infrastructure in the last (5) years

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Wireless Backhaul Evolution Consolidation, Management and Strengthening of the Data Network

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Wireless Backhaul EvolutionConsolidation, Management and Strengthening of the Data Network


  • Backhaul: Once the “after thought” of the wireless infrastructure

  • Explosive amounts of data back through the wireless infrastructure in the last (5) years

  • 4G and LTE are pushing the boundaries of the existing network

  • Now considered an essential element of the network: The New Wireless Cash Cow?

  • Standard T1 copper network unable to meet the new topology

  • Wireless backhaul is essential to today’s network

Evolution of Wireless Backhaul

  • Initial providers only focused on voice

  • As network speed evolved (LTE),data became the primary driver

  • Large data streams brought greater demands on wireless backhaul

  • 20% of copper backhaul is over-burdened; rising to 50% by 2015

  • Today’s copper T1 backhaul can handle a maximum of 1.5 to 2 Mbps

Wireless backhaul needs to meet the ever growing network requirements of today

Wireless Market Evolution

Consumer Needs

  • Greater mobile flexibility through voice, text, email and video

  • Faster data speeds for mobile applications

    Service Provider Needs

  • Lower infrastructure costs

  • High speed radio systems

  • Ethernet and microwave backhaul compatibility

  • VoIP

The wireless infrastructure is data centric

Mobile Data Replaces Fixed Data

  • Broadband subscribers to reach 3.4 billion by 2014

  • 80% of the users will be mobile based

  • Fixed broadband growth expected to remain near static

  • Service providers are being driven by (2) distinct trends

    • Increase in smart mobile devices

    • Data centric applications

4G networks in North America will increase data traffic 26 fold from 2010 through 2015

Wireless Backhaul Market Drivers

  • Cell Site Growth

    • Approximately 300,000 sites in the US

    • Expected to grow to 430,000 by 2015 in the US

  • Smart Phone Impact

    • Smart phones account for 15% of the market share today, but they account for 78% of the data traffic

    • In 2010 over 3 million tablets were connected to the network generating five times as much data as smart phones

  • Migration towards LTE (Long Term Evolution – 4G)

    • Speeds increasing from ~3Mbps to 20-100Mbps

    • Bandwidth increasing from ~20MHz to 100MHz

Wireless Backhaul 101

  • Three Main Transport Methods

    • Copper (T1s)

    • Fiber

    • Microwave

  • Copper/Fiber Hybrid Solution

    • Copper – TDM great for voice, not so great for data

    • Fiber – Ethernet great for data, allows transition to VOIP

Access Network



Public Switched Telephone Network


Carrier Base Station

Mobile Switching Office (provisioning, call routing, etc)

Handset, PDA or Laptop

Source: Fibertower Investor Presentation, April 2008.

Wireless Backhaul Infrastructure Trends

  • Fiber quickly replacing copper to meet LTE bandwidth requirements

  • Point-to-point microwave backhauled to fiber to save cost

  • Ethernet over T1 driving savings, greater data flow and greater reliability

US ~75%

ROW ~15%

US ~15%

ROW ~25%

US ~10%

ROW ~60%

Backhaul Transport Comparisons

The Dark Side of Backhaul

  • Revenues may not keep pace with data surges through the wireless network

  • Cost to deliver a “byte” of data will exceed generated revenue by early 2013

  • Top two service providers are laying fiber to the majority of their edge midstream networks

  • Lower tier suppliers may choose NOT to upgrade the backhaul infrastructure

    • Cost to enter may cause a “wait and see” approach

    • Risk of increased rate of churn

  • Small regional/rural service providers may gain access to low interest loans and funding via government broadband initiative

Backhaul Technology Comparison

Source: Ceragon Networks Ltd. Mobile Backhaul: Fiber vs. Microwave, October 2009.

Backhaul Technology Cost Comparison


  • Data has become the dominant mobile transmission vehicle of backhaul topology

  • Transition to LTE and VOIP will only increase the burden on the backhaul network

  • Providers that securely manage data in their networks will be financially successful long term

  • The wireless backhaul network will be defined by:

    • Speed

    • $$$ (short and long term)

    • Terrain

    • Climate



Paul Misar

Director, OSP Cabinet Solutions

[email protected]

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