Wireless Backhaul Solutions Everywhere in Barcelona

I must have counted nearly 30 vendors during the opening day at Mobile World Congress this year who are promoting some form of wireless backhaul solution. It seems like instead of consolidating the market it continues to expand and fragment like never before. Ten or 15 years ago I thought that the market could not support 20 vendors, but now things are hotter than ever.

There are the big guys (Ericsson, NSN, Huawei, Alcatel Lucent and NEC), the independent point-to-point (PTP) microwave providers like Ceragon (newly merged with Nera) and SIAE from Italy (part of the STM Group), to a myriad of small guys from all over the world. And then there are the other wanna-be backhaul solutions, like point-to-multipoint (PMP), free space optics (FSO), mesh, E-Band, etc.

There are also a slew of new products announced and on display (including two from Aviat Networks), including Ericsson, Ceragon, Trango, Comba and NEC. A lot of these new products are IP based and primarily all-outdoor, reflecting the ongoing trend in the industry for ‘zero footprint’, packet microwave systems for new 4G/LTE base station deployments.

With all of these players and products coming to market each year at Mobile World Congress it’s a must see event and I can’t wait for the next few days to unfold.

Stuart Little,
Director of Marketing, Aviat Networks

The Future of Backhaul is Now

There is an old saying in some places with words to the effect that “the future is now.” We believe the future of mobile backhaul is microwave and that future is now. At the risk of stretching the point of a seeming paradox, let us explain. The focal point for much of Mobile World Congress 2011 will be on Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G cellular services.

Even with all the hype for LTE, its demand on the backhaul network will probably not exceed 200Mbps, and it will likely settle somewhere in the range of 150Mbps to 200Mbps for the typical LTE macro cell site. This figure is well within the throughput capabilities of modern IP/Ethernet microwave backhaul radios. We will be explaining more about this at our MWC courtyard pavilion #CY08 in the Fira de Barcelona during the week.

For a more detailed look at what Aviat Networks has planned for the week, let us elaborate. Aviat Network presenters will outline the company’s vision for the future of backhaul networks, focusing on the key challenges faced by mobile service providers around the world including:

1. 4G/LTE Backhaul—A Dose of Reality. The requirements for 4G/LTE backhaul capacity are being overhyped, leading to operators wasting potentially billions of dollars by running fiber to cell sites. Understand how microwave is exceeding the true backhaul capacity needs of 4G/LTE with high reliability—and much more cost effectively.

2. Simplifying Mobile Backhaul Evolution. The evolution of mobile network infrastructure to all-IP is potentially risky and complex, giving operators many confusing options. Learn how Aviat Networks is developing solutions that will help simplify and lower the cost of this evolution.

3. Small Cell Backhaul—Challenges and Opportunities. There is a growing consensus in the industry that operators will need to deploy a new “underlay” network of small, micro-base stations to provide the needed capacity and coverage for 4G. Find out how microwave is uniquely positioned to provide the backhaul for this new class of base stations.

In addition, you can see the latest Aviat Networks microwave solutions, which we will be introducing in person at MWC:

4. Aviat WTM 3000. A fully functional Carrier Ethernet transport node in a true zero-footprint package, the WTM 3000 includes for the first time advanced radio, modem and Ethernet networking functions all in a compact outdoor unit, unlike other “all-outdoor” packet radios that require an indoor unit or a separate switch/router to provide important networking advanced radio features.

5. Eclipse IDU GE3. An ultra-compact indoor unit (IDU) that combines the very latest Carrier Ethernet networking and advanced radio features for hybrid TDM/Ethernet or all-Ethernet/IP wireless transmission. The Eclipse IDU GE3 enables the deployment of cost-effective wireless tail-end cell-site connections and standalone point-to-point links.

6. Eclipse DAC GE3. A new plug-in interface module for the Eclipse Packet Node platform, theDAC GE3 provides the most advanced Carrier Ethernet switch subsystem available in microwave backhaul today. Featuring higher capacity and an impressive breadth of new capabilities, this third-generation design sets a new benchmark for resilient wireless access and aggregation networks.

For more information visit our booth at Mobile World Congress or our website Aviat Networks.

Top 11 Ways to Survive Mobile World Congress

  • Unless you want to stand in line for 2+ hours, print and bring your fast track pass. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • Pick up your badge Saturday or Sunday or be prepared for a long wait Monday morning. Bring your confirmation email for added time savings.
  • Foot soak after a long day on the show floor can become a necessity by day 3.
  • Catalan is widely used in Barcelona, be prepared for some locals to not understand your Spanish.
  • A small bit of laundry detergent works great if you have to wash something in your hotel sink, trust me it happens!
  • The day before the show, scout out coffee shops within walking distance of your hotel and the closest Metro line. You will thank us later.
  • If you check your luggage, make sure you carry on at least one outfit for the show. You don’t want to show up for that million dollar meeting in a $50 suit bought last minute at the corner shop by your hotel.
  • Most restaurants don’t open up until 9 or 10pm. Pre-dinner naps are encouraged!
  • Don’t bring your laptop to the show floor and if you do, guard it with your life!
  • Conversion power plugs are like gold bars on the show floor. Bring an extra for your hotel… or two.
  • Charge your devices every chance you get, international travel seems to burn through battery quicker.

What is 4G?

By now, you have seen the blogs, read the tweets and perhaps watched a YouTube video about “4G” mobile networks. In these postings, various claims and counterclaims have been made for what really defines 4G wireless. Further down in the industry dialogue, debate has been swirling among the ITU, IEEE 802 and various telecom analysts and pundits about what constitutes 4G. The technical acronyms LTE, WiMAX, HSPA+ and perhaps others have floated through the ether, creating more confusion than clarity.

All this happened when ITU let the genie out of the bottle in late 2010 and loosened the technical definition of what is truly 4G. The answer had been mobile technology capable of 100 Mbps+ downloads. However, ITU seems to have given mobile operators and others with vested interests enough leeway to define 4G as any mobile broadband technology that is faster than “3G,” which enjoyed a similar hype and uncertainty when it debuted in the early 2000s. And so began the public’s conditioning to equate more Gs with faster throughput.

Of course, all these Gs only refer to the generation of mobile technology, currently in its third generation in most places, with some limited availability of fourth generation technology. For the record, 4G technology in ITU’s strictest sense only refers to Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced and WiMAX 802.16m. Even current LTE and WiMAX 16e installations do not qualify. They are evolutionary steps on the road to 4G. And though HSPA+ is a fast download technology, it is still a third generation mobile telecom technology. Still, some HSPA+ carriers are achieving 21 Mbps downloads—faster than the 12 Mbps of early LTE carriers. With a software upgrade by the end of 2011, HSPA+ carriers can conceivably get up to 42 Mbps—but that is the theoretical maximum. Someday, LTE operators could hypothetically top out at 300 Mbps, but that day is not in the immediate future.

What is immediately apparent and most important is what 4G means to the end user. Most people cannot be bothered to dive into the technical details of mobile broadband technology, even if they are capable of grasping its intricacies. What they can grasp is faster mobile video loads with a minimum of latency and lack of jitter. What they can get is the mobile Internet displaying web pages with images in place and not red Xs or empty pictureholders. What is important is delivering content to the end user—wherever she is—faster than she expects, however many Gs it takes….

Optimizing Backhaul Cost and Performance with Space-Saving Indoor Unit

AVIAT NETWORKS IDU GE3

AVIAT NETWORKS' IDU GE3

Operators concerned with backhaul capacity and cost now have a solution. Today, we announced the Eclipse IDU GE3, an ultra-compact indoor unit (IDU) that combines the very latest Carrier Ethernet networking and advanced radio features for hybrid TDM/Ethernet or all-Ethernet/IP w

ireless transmission. Supporting link throughputs up to 400 Mbps, the IDU GE3 will provide more than enough backhaul capacity for the overlay of new 4G/LTE base stations, and offers significant advantages over costly fiber deployments or leased lines.

This new embedded switch provides the most advanced Carrier Ethernet features available in a microwave platform—for hybrid or all-packet microwave transport. Available in a space-saving one-half rack unit (RU) package.

IDU GE3 offers features that include:

  • Full 256QAM Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) support—enabling up to a fourfold increase in spectral efficiency over non-ACM systems;
  • High port density with six Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) and 16 native TDM (E1/T1) ports;
  • The latest Carrier Ethernet features, such as VLANs, advanced Quality of Service (QoS) traffic priority assignment and Ethernet OAM (Operations, Administration and Management); and
  • Packet synchronization options—SyncE, IEEE 1588v2 and Eclipse Distributed Sync (EDS)

The new IDU GE3 is fully compatible with the Eclipse Packet Node nodal indoor units and the complete line of Eclipse indoor and outdoor RF units, enabling operators to immediately deploy this new unit into existing Eclipse-based transmission networks with minimal cost and operational impact.

The Eclipse IDU GE3 will debut at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, from Feb 14-17, 2011. Come by and take a look!

World’s First Nodal Outdoor Radio

First Nodal Outdoor Radio

Aviat Networks' WTM3000

Yes its true, you can have it all. Today we announced our WTM3000 outdoor network radio for wireless transmission that combines full IP/Ethernet aggregation and switching, along with the very latest in advanced radio transmission features to maximize frequency efficiency and throughput.

Unlike other “all-outdoor” packet radios that require an indoor unit or a separate switch/router to provide important networking features and advanced radio functionality, such as Adaptive Modulation, the WTM 3000 includes all advanced radio, modem and Ethernet networking functions in a compact, environmentally hardened unit.

WTM 3000 represents a breakthrough in converged networking and transmission solutions. Incorporating the latest in carrier-class Ethernet switch technology and three Gigabit Ethernet ports, it supports nodal functions with aggregation, Carrier Ethernet Quality of Service (QoS) controls, Ethernet Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM) and IP/MPLS awareness. The WTM 3000 also provides superior radio transmission features, such as 256QAM Adaptive Coding and Modulation, excellent RF system gain performance, and support for link capacity-doubling, through co-channel operation with XPIC.

This solution can operate as a standalone device for Carrier Ethernet/IP transmission wireless connections or extend the Aviat Packet Node platform for all-IP and zero-footprint applications.

The WTM 3000 will debut at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 14-17, 2011. Come by and take a look!

Taking a Realistic Look at 4G Backhaul Needs

Let’s get past the hype.

We can get a good idea of what capacities 4G networks will need for backhaul we should look at what the technology is actually able to support.

The backhaul requirements for a single cell are fixed by a number of factors, regardless of how many users there are in that cell. Network congestion and frequency interference will limit the throughput achievable to rates well below the advertised peak rates.

For a typical three sector macro cell operating in the maximum 20MHz channel bandwidth, the total backhaul capacity needed is actually below 200 Mbit/s, even with the future introduction of LTE Advanced (Release 10).

For the current Release 8 of LTE now being deployed, and with smaller operating channels of 5 or 10 MHz, the actual backhaul capacity needs will be more often in the 10’s of Mbit/s, not the 100’s!

So if this is the case, why do you need fiber?? It’s pretty clear that the presumption that only fiber is suitable for 4G backhaul doesn’t make much sense! As shown by Figure 1, modern microwave transmission systems more than meet the capacity needs of 4G/LTE, with lots of room to spare.

Microwave supports more than enough backhaul capacity for 4G/LTE

Innovative new microwave technologies have been introduced to the market in the past few years that dramatically increase the throughput capacity, while the move to packet-based transport has also enabled a new range of Ethernet/IP-aware products that are able to intelligently utilize the available microwave backhaul spectrum better than ever before, with throughputs of 1 Gbit/s achievable with fiber-like reliability.

Apart from that, the average cost of microwave has continued to decrease over the years. The result is that microwave $/MBit is a fraction of what it was just 5 years ago.

Why Pay for Capacity That You Don’t Need?

Driven by this continued uncertainty, many operators could waste huge amounts of money by deploying fiber to cell-sites that can be served much more economically with proven microwave solutions.

So far from fiber being the only answer for operators deploying HSPA+ & LTE, microwave transport can and will meet the capacity needs for mobile backhaul for many years to come.

Stuart Little

Director of Marketing, Aviat Networks

The LTE Hype Cycle is in Full Swing

Now’s not the time for operators to be quiet and conservative. In the US, the leading network operators are all engaged in a vigorous battle to prove who can deliver the fastest data downloads, with the best coverage. Any pretense over complying with the ITU’s original definition of 4G have now been dropped in the marketing campaigns from each company, with now LTE, WiMAX 802.16e and even HSPA+ now being aggressively promoted as 4G (more about this in a future post). Nowhere else in the world are three mobile technologies slugging it out for dominance.

These efforts have been reinforced by discussions (and even demonstrations) of LTE download speeds of 50, 80, 100 Mbit/s and more. A slew of new LTE-capable devices were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month. Eleven new LTE networks have been launched, with 147 operators committed to LTE at the end of 2010. There’s little wonder that predictions of cell-site backhaul capacity of many 100’s of megabits and even gigabits are not uncommon.

Fiber Solves Everything?

With the focus on download speeds, the market appears to have forgotten the past issues associated with backhaul. Or perhaps, the assumption is that they have all been solved. Operator difficulties associated with the introduction of the iPhone in 2009 appear to be well behind us, but the reality is that backhaul remains one of the biggest headaches.

Operators have largely fended off further scrutiny of potential backhaul problems by talking up how they are rapidly deploying fiber throughout their networks, or deploying 100’s of thousands of new leased lines. This has led some commentators to declare that only fiber can support the backhaul needs of LTE. Fiber to every cell-site means no more capacity issues. Problem solved!

Unfortunately the reality is not so tidy. Capacity is just one of the issues that face operators when preparing their backhaul networks for 4G. Since backhaul can represent up to 50% of a network operators costs, any poor decisions made there can seriously affect the bottom line.

Instead, backhaul is a multi dimensional puzzle, balancing network capacity, cost, complexity and coverage. Next post I will explore the real backhaul needs of 4G, based upon a bottom’s up technology assessment, that paints a very different story.

Stuart Little

Director of Marketing, Aviat Networks