- January 23, 2017
- Aviat, Aviat Networks, AviatCare, AviatCloud, backhaul, Carrier Ethernet, Ethernet, IP/MPLS, LTE, Microwave backhaul
IP/MPLS microwave backhaul has three elements to extend all the way to the access network. Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC
In microwave communications—as in all electronic communications mediums—operators trend toward the latest technologies (e.g., IP/MPLS). They all have conditioning to think that newer is better. And by and large that’s right.
However, when it comes to IP/MPLS—one of the most advanced packet technologies—you need to handle this concept with care. Especially in a mixed infrastructure that includes microwave, fiber and other potential backhaul transport.
Figure 1: SDN will not significantly reduce microwave CAPEX costs.
Software-defined networking (SDN) promises to drastically simplify how transport networks deploy, operate and get serviced. Reducing OPEX remains a significant factor for implementing software-defined networking. Automating service creation, traffic and bandwidth control, and network management as well as reducing maintenance complexity of routing protocols remain areas where it will simplify backhaul and lower OPEX. The only questions seem, “When will this happen?” and “How much will it save?” And what about CAPEX? Can we expect reduction in purchase price of microwave backhaul based on such a migration?
- November 18, 2016
- 5G, backhaul, IP/MPLS, MPLS, SDN
Aviat Networks Chief Product Officer Ola Gustafsson talks about SDN 5G backhaul during AfricaCom 2016.
The most pressing business need in many networks deals with delivery of new services.The biggest evolution today in the backhaul network is the trend toward integration of IP/MPLS intelligence into microwave. Software-defined networking (SDN) remains another more recent trend in backhaul. However, as we’ve posted many times, integration of IP/MPLS intelligence into microwave systems provides a number of benefits. These include lower cost, fewer boxes to buy/deploy/maintain and better network performance overall such as lower latency and better reliability.
- March 14, 2016
- AT&T, backhaul, California ISO, cost per mile, DWDM, E-Band, fiber, fiber optic technology, FierceWireless, IP/MPLS, Layer 3, RCR Wireless, Re/code, SDN, software defined networking, Sprint, urban backhaul, Verizon, Wireless Week
In late January and into February 2016, a big tumult ensued when Sprint announced that it would begin to move its mobile backhaul strategy from one based on leased fiber to another based on owned microwave radio. The story first ran in technology news site Re/code and quickly got reposted with additional commentary by FierceWireless, Wireless Week and others, and which was reiterated this week in RCR Wireless.
While the breathtaking headlines about reducing costs by $1 billion caught most people’s attention—primarily through reducing tower leasing costs and not using competitors’ networks—lower down in the copy came a potent reminder from Sprint about the economic benefits of microwave radio. It also highlighted the fact that backhaul has entered a transitional period (see article end for more on that).
Most of that $1 billion that Sprint seeks to save comes by way of moving away from AT&T and Verizon fiber backhaul networks. You might think that Sprint would build its own fiber network instead. But that would take too long and still have an exorbitant price tag associated with it. It’s a function of both out-of-pocket capital costs and embedded lost opportunity costs. Bottom line: laying fiber connections is expensive and slow. Putting up a network of high-speed, broadband microwave relay towers is quicker and easier.
With the goal of a hyper-meshed 5G street level network, clearly today’s small cell deployments represent just an interim phase in a progressive network densification—pushing the network outward. This means today’s small cell sites will become tomorrow’s macrocells, or hub sites.
Future-looking mobile operators have planned for this eventuality. In the developed world, small cell and the Internet of Things (IoT) drive mobile network densification. However, in the developing world the primary goal of enterprise connectivity spurs network densification, due to lack of wireline infrastructure to business buildings. The end result of network densification is the same.
At the Ghana Telecom Awards in May 2015, Ahmed Adama, Aviat Ghana country manager (right) proudly accepts on behalf of all Aviat Networks the honor for Best Microwave Backhaul Vendor of 2015.
At the recently concluded Ghana Telecom Awards held in May 2015, Aviat Networks won the Microwave Backhaul Vendor award for the second year in a row. Based on a survey of telecom industry participants, Aviat bested all the other major microwave specialists and one of the top three telecom generalists.
“I am very proud to inform you that Aviat Networks has been honored again as the best overall microwave backhaul solutions provider in Ghana,” said Ahmed Adama, country manager, Ghana, Aviat Networks. “The combination of our microwave networking technology and full turnkey service capability was key to securing this award.”
- January 29, 2015
- backhaul, Layer 2, Layer 3, microwave networking, microwave networks, Microwave Radio, MNOs, mobile network operators, regular routers, routers
Mobile network operators (MNOs) continue to reap the windfall of the widespread adoption of smartphones. Mobile data volumes spiked initially and still rise quarter over quarter. Along with the demand for more data throughput from their subscribers, MNOs have to accommodate the greater need for responsiveness closer to the network edge.
While regular routers are good at serving Layer 3 services to mobile users on fiber-heavy backhaul networks, they do not do a very efficient job of servicing mobile backhaul networks that primarily use microwave radio. As it turns out, the worldwide majority of mobile backhaul networks are still based on microwave technology, as regularly updated industry research shows.
What can an MNO with microwave backhaul do to bring Layer 3 functionality to its customers that will handle bandwidth constraints, unique aspects of translating router protocols across the microwave interface and failure detection and recovery, among others?
Aviat Networks has published an article in Mobile World magazine that looks at these challenges of regular routers when used in a microwave backhaul network and proposes possible solutions.
- August 7, 2014
- Aviat Networks, backhaul, LTE, microwave, Microwave backhaul, Microwave Radio, Microwave transmission, Mobile network operator, mobile networks, Mobile Technology, technology, voice over lte, volte
As one of the most anticipated network technologies, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has been discussed by operators for years. The expectation was that deployments would start in 2013, but roll-outs in North America were delayed.
Logo courtesy of YTD2525 Blog
Operators have faced a series of issues that include poor voice quality and long call establishment times. Once these problems are solved, it is expected that VoLTE will allow operators to provide voice and data services using an integrated packet network. As the problems described show, the implementation of VoLTE presents challenges for the entire LTE ecosystem including microwave backhaul.
We have produced a white paper to describe some of the VoLTE requirements that must be met in order to overcome these technical challenges, which must encompass a flexible microwave backhaul as a key factor for a successful transition to all-packet voice and video VoLTE networks. A brief introduction to VoLTE is presented and then different VoLTE backhaul requirements are described with possible solutions.
Click here to download a white paper on this subject titled “VoLTE and the IP/MPLS Cell Site Evolution”.
- February 21, 2014
- 70GHz, 80GHz, backhaul, densification, E-Band, microwave communications, microwave congestion, millimeterwave, small cell, small cell backhaul, small cells, urban backhaul, urbanized backhaul
As the telecom community searches for reasons why Small Cell architectures have not yet launched en masse, “experts” are quick to suggest that lack of backhaul technology as the key perpetrator.
As I wrote in a 2013 article, starting with wireless microwave communications (6-42GHz frequency range), solutions for backhaul both large and small are available and effective today for mobile operators.
This is the second in a series that highlights technology available to enable immediate deployment of small cell backhaul. This segment focuses on the convenience of using wireless E-band as a complement to microwave for small cell backhaul, while bringing to light some of the true obstacles to small cell adoption.
E-band is a part of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum in the millimeter range between 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz. In recent years, there has been more interest in this frequency band, because traditional microwave (6-40 GHz) bands are now very congested in parts of the world, and that with the densification of mobile networks due to the introduction of 3G/HSPA and 4G/LTE, link distances between cell sites are shrinking in urban areas.
The surge in interest in a new network of outdoor small cells is driving a new approach toward cost-effective wireless solutions for backhaul. E-band offers a large swath of available spectrum with more than 10 GHz at stake—it represents more bandwidth than all the combined open frequency bands below 40 GHz.
What is needed is an all-outdoor, packet millimeterwave radio, offering a rich set of features, expressly built to support mobile (macro and small) backhaul by:
- Conforming to planning and local authority “community-friendly” aesthetics and design approval guidelines
- Eliminating external parabolic antennas, thus enabling significant savings on shipping, storage and handling costs
- Weighing dramatically less than competing solutions, resulting in easier handling and installation within 30 minutes
- Consuming less power, allowing flexibility in electrical source options such as via fixed supplies or Power over Ethernet (PoE), with built-in surge protection
As the world becomes increasingly urbanized—for the first time ever, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in dense urban areas—it is also the place where we communicate the most and networks are most stressed to keep up. Small cell designs offer a convenient method to densify networks.
However, my prediction is that in the near to medium term, deployments will be surgical—to plug gaps where coverage is poor and to fill hot-spots where incremental capacity is needed. It is important to note that outdoor, public access small cells will coexist and in some ways compete with other densification solutions, including DAS, wi-fi, and additional macro cell builds. Small cells may indeed need to be backhauled from light poles and building sides, but ultimately they need to go where they need to go, while serving the primary goal of not-spot and hot-spot filler.
The more pressing obstacles for outdoor small cells include the method operators use to assess the business case and solve the construction and site acquisition challenges borne by the paradigm shift. The expectation is that the ecosystem will produce a solution that makes small cells easier and cheaper to deploy than macro cells. The problem with that thinking is the economics of it all. The business case will continue to struggle to prove out vs. macro cell, as scalability and network dimensioning quickly come at odds with requirements for unbridled capacity, high reliability and network intelligence.
Operators think they may be vying for a diminutive device supporting multi-generational, multi-band, multi-media and multi-OSI-layers, but that utopian requirement breeds complex challenges in permitting, site acquisition, interference, costs, and so on—all items recently in the pick-list of a flash poll by Light Reading. I maintain that we are not just over-thinking, but over-expecting the benefits of a pure-play small cell rollout. We might all be better off following the “K-I-S-S” principle for the foreseeable future, which might produce this guidance:
- Use small cells only where it makes sense
- Deploy it with tried and true technology (i.e., wireless microwave)
- Consider E-band for expansion in dense urban outdoor environments
- Be mindful about keeping your budget in the black, but don’t stress about challenges that need not manifest in your business
So here’s to Keeping it Small and Simple!
Senior Manager of Marketing