Wireless ‘Feel Good’ Factor

It has been satisfying to help a ‘go-getting’ wireless company from down-under win an award recently. Adelaide-based MIMP Connecting Solutions won the environment and energy efficiency category at the NECA (National Electrical and Communication Association) excellence awards using our Eclipse microwave radios.

MIMP won the award with a unique comms solution that links the Adelaide Zoo with the Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to 100 species of birds and native mammals, most of which are nocturnal and endangered.

The Zoo’s old system ran at 256 kilobit-per-second at a very high cost until MIMP installed four environmentally friendly microwave radios. They now have a 32 Mb/s full-duplex connection between the sites with minimal ongoing costs. Now, the radios use less power than a light bulb.

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Fiber Isn’t Everything: Key Role of Microwave in Mobile Backhaul

Fiber

If fiber is this much of a mess in your wiring closet, just imagine the difficulty of deploying it to your cell site. Image by DrBacchus (Rich Bowen) via Flickr

Last year in August, Aviat Networks presented its argument for why fiber optics technology isn’t everything where backhaul of wireless networks is concerned. If anything, this point has only been reinforced by analyses and anecdotal stories showing that fiber can be overkill for the mobile backhaul requirements of  LTE wireless. Plus, there is the simple truth that fiber cannot be deployed to every cell site due to financial and topological issues. That’s why microwave technology remains the world’s first choice for backhauling wireless networks. So let’s look at last year’s FierceWireless webinar slide presentation and refresh our memories.

These slides present the findings of an Ovum survey of North America’s largest backhaul players to understand their strategies regarding media types used to supply cell-site backhaul.

Ovum found that demand for wireless backhaul equipment in North America will continue to grow as mobile operators upgrade their networks to support higher-speed LTE networking technologies. The most common backhaul strategy for mobile operators in the region comprises leasing services over fiber combined with owning and operating microwave-based facilities. Microwave has a distinct advantage vis-a-vis leased services over the long-term due to the opex associated with leasing.

If you would like to see more, you may register for the on-demand replay of the full webinar. It will also present the latest trends and advancements in microwave transmission technology that support the evolution of mobile backhaul networks to all-IP.

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Wireless Services: Stepping Outside the ‘Box’

Map of Nigeria

Nigeria, in the heart of West Africa, is home to leading mobile operator MTN Nigeria and the hottest wireless carrier market on earth.

Customers are looking for partners who can do more than just provide them with “boxes.” To really partner with customers, sometimes you have to step outside of the box. Providing a comprehensive, advanced Spares Management Program solution to MTN NigeriaAviat Networks’ largest customer and a major Tier 1 mobile network operator in Africa—is a prime example of what can be accomplished when stepping outside of the box.

Challenging Environment

As many are aware, Africa represents a challenging operating environment where on a daily basis mobile operators have to contend with power outages, lack of infrastructure and a shortage of trained personnel. Due to these issues, MTN Nigeria was experiencing significant challenges with its spares management related to its overall installed base of network equipment. This included having more spares than were needed but never having the right spare in the right place at the right time.

Even though the customer had a large supply of spares as part of capital expenditures, it was actually very difficult to keep track of the physical inventory. In this situation, MTN Nigeria asked its suppliers to manage the problem. Each supplier was to take accountability for owning and managing the problem for the customer.

For more, see the complete customer success story.

Ross Gillette
Director of Services, Africa, Aviat Networks

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Small Cell Mobile Backhaul: The LTE Capacity Shortfall

With immense mass-market demand for mobile broadband services, and emergence of new high-capacity mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) and applications, many of the world’s most advanced mobile networks are struggling to deliver a high-quality consumer experience. Explosion of per-user data consumption, combined with subscriber growth and mobility needs, is putting today’s networks are under tremendous pressure. In addition, as operators continuously evolve networks with the latest technology (e.g., 2G, 3G, 4G) to meet these capacity and coverage demands, network costs are exploding and operators are struggling to keep up profitable businesses.

LTE, representing a 4x capacity improvement over current 3G networks, on its own will be insufficient to address all future capacity demands, as mobile data traffic will double every year equating to a 32x growth by 2014 (Figure 1).

32x backhaul capacity demand jump

Figure 1: The forecast 32x jump in data demand cannot be met alone by LTE, which can only offer a 4x increase over current wireless technologies.

Increasing spectral efficiency with new versions of LTE will help manage the shortfall, but these solutions are not yet available and again will not provide the volume of capacity necessary. Acquiring more spectrum would help but additional spectrum is costly and in most cases not available. Traffic management approaches such as caching and mobile data offloading are emerging to help manage the load but because of limited cache hit rates, these solutions will be insufficient to address the capacity shortfall. Offload techniques, such as in-home femto cells and mobile offload gateways, are emerging to reduce load on mobile infrastructure, but again they will be insufficient. A new approach is required.

Emergence of Small Cells

To meet these capacity challenges, and address ever-prevalent coverage issues, new small cell network architectures are emerging based on a new generation of low power, small cell (i.e., micro, pico, femto) mobile base stations. ABI Research estimates 4 million pico base stations will be shipped per year by 2015. Being deployed into an existing network on lampposts, utility poles and building walls, these base stations offer a way for operators to meet challenges of urban, suburban and in-building locations. Combined with existing base station infrastructure, these small cells are transforming the flat macro mobile network into a multi-level, hierarchical radio access network (Figure 2).

Macro, Pico & Femto base stations

Figure 2: Combined with existing macro base station infrastructure, small cells are transforming the flat mobile network into a multi-level, hierarchical radio access network.

Small Cell Backhaul: Wired or Wireless

When considering IP mobile backhaul options, operators must first ponder the choice between wireline or wireless solutions. There is generally no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and in reality we’re likely to see a mix of mobile backhaul technologies deployed to meet the small cell backhaul challenge. However, because of challenging utility pole and lamppost deployments, operators cannot count on fixed line options (e.g., fiber, cable, copper/DSL) being ubiquitously available. Moreover, more than 40 percent of the world’s macrocell base stations are backhauled wirelessly and because of these challenging locations, we’re likely to see a much higher percentage of wireless-based backhaul in small cell applications.

Wireless Backhaul for Small Cells: Challenges

Small cell deployments present a number of challenges—not the least of which is impact on mobile backhaul. Operators—and equipment vendors—must consider the key factors below when selecting (and designing) wireless backhaul solutions for small cells:

Lower cost solutions needed—Smaller cells mean more cells and thus more mobile backhaul. To meet overall cost objectives, lower cost backhaul solutions will be required to make sure small cells can be deployed cost effectively. Typical macrocell backhaul CapEx is about 50 percent of the total base station CapEx, and similar ratios will be required to ensure a cost-effective solution.

Space-optimized solutions required—To improve street-level coverage and capacity, small cells are being deployed on lampposts and utility poles. These challenging deployment locations place demands on the physical attributes of backhaul solutions. Unlike traditional cellsites, typical dish antennas will not be feasible for such deployments. In addition, because of space constraints and operations costs, backhaul and base station hardware integrated into common enclosures would be ideal.

Line-of-Sight (LOS) not possible—Street level, metro area deployments mean line of sight to backhaul hub locations are not always—in fact—rarely possible. Requiring large antennas, combined with lack of LOS characteristics, makes traditional point-to-point wireless backhaul ineffective for most small cell backhaul applications.

Interference must be carefully managed—When it comes to wireless backhaul solutions, close proximity of cellsites creates possible interference issues for the backhaul system. These interference issues are relatively new for backhaul systems and need to be considered.

High-capacity solutions required—Driven by increasing demand for mobile data, backhaul requirements for small cells are expected to approach macro cell capacity requirements (50-100Mbps per cellsite) in the next three years.

Which challenges matter most will depend heavily on how small cells eventually are deployed. Stay tuned for a followup blog post where I discuss small cell backhaul deployment options and available solutions to address these needs. In the meantime, feel free to leave me your thoughts, or comments.

Gary Croke
Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Aviat Networks

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Aviat Networks Training Center for Wireless Network Services

At the Aviat Networks full-service training facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Patrick Davis, director of global support services for Aviat Networks, discusses the numerous offerings that the site can provide. Bringing customers into a closed environment such as the Santa Clara facility allows them to focus on learning the technologies and theories behind microwave wireless backhaul, he says.

We sit down with the customer without distractions outside the office and go over the entire wide portfolio of end-to-end services we offer, Davis says. We cover everything—from IP theory to microwave theory to pathloss to transition from TDM, he says. Product training is on Aviat Networks equipment and other vendors’ devices, such as those from Tellabs.

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Aviat Networks in the News: Highlights & What’s Ahead in Wireless

France Télécom phone booth in Wellington, New ...

Image via Wikipedia

This month we have a few technology updates from our travels abroad to London and Amsterdam where we presented our perspectives on backhaul at two LTE conferences.

In May, Stuart Little, our director of global corporate marketing, presented at an LTE backhaul conference organized by Telecom IQ in London. Stuart hosted a workshop that focused on the current challenges faced by mobile service providers while preparing their backhaul networks to meet the demand of next generation LTE broadband services. Comprising an intimate crowd of mostly operators, the conference focused on a series of operator presentations, panel discussions and roundtable conversations. Representatives from operators such as BT, Telenor, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Mobitel and Saudi Telecom were in attendance. Some key issues discussed focused on the backhaul needs of LTE, which are difficult to predict. With a few exceptions, most LTE deployments to-date are limited or in the trial phase. Operators are also grappling with a mix of technologies in their networks, making migration to all-IP a huge and complicated task.

While in London, Stuart also spoke at the 13th annual Transport Networks for Mobile Operators (TNMO) Conference on May 10. TNMO is one of the largest conferences in Europe focused purely on backhaul transport networks. This year, Aviat Networks participated by presenting on the topic of “Realistic Capacity Requirements for LTE,” or why fiber is not the only answer, and took part in a panel discussion on Carrier Ethernet for mobile backhaul. The conference was fairly well attended, with a packed agenda that covered the full range of transport challenges from the access to the core. Numerous solutions to the problem of delivering more capacity to meet expected demand were discussed, including network sharing, microcells, network offload and intelligent backhaul optimization techniques. It seems that there is no single winner in the race to find a solution. Operators are going to have to choose from an array of options to get the right fit for their particular needs.

Over in Amsterdam, Peter Croy, our senior IP network architect, presented on the topic of Carrier Ethernet for LTE mobile backhaul requirements at the LTE World Summit. Not sure if you have read previous blogs or joined in our webinars on this subject, but Peter is a well versed expert on backhaul. See his overview from the conference.

With summer fast approaching and vacations looming, June will be a bit slower. Good thing as planning will begin for some major events and shows coming in the fall and early 2012.

An event you won’t want to miss is the 1588v2 Synchronization for Mobile Backhaul Networks Webinar on June 6. Hosted by Patrick Donegan, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. This webinar will bring together leading vendors and operators to develop best practice guidelines for operators as they deploy the 1588v2 standard. Drawing on real implementation case studies, industry leaders will demonstrate where some implementations have gone wrong in the past and what leading operators and vendors are now doing right to deploy this key standard. Please join us for this highly interactive webinar. The webinar is co-hosted by Errol Binda, our very own solutions marketing manager.

Another interesting event is the National Urban Areas Security Initiative Conference (UASI) conference held in San Francisco, June 20-23. This conference is in cooperation with Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Grants Programs Directorate. The conference will provide an opportunity for stakeholders from all areas of homeland security and emergency preparedness to gather and exchange important information to make the United States safer.

We will have a booth, No. 85 in the Continental Ballroom, at the conference where we will display our public safety solutions along with showcasing all-indoor configurations of Eclipse Packet Node. Ali Hirsa from Aviat Networks will be at the booth to answer any questions you may have.

That’s it for now. I will be back in touch next month to update you on the latest happenings at Aviat Networks. Until then, follow the dialogue and news on our social sites.

www.aviatnetworks.com

www.facebook.com/AviatNet

www.twitter.com/aviatnetworks

www.blog.aviatnetworks.com

www.youtube.com/aviatnetworks

Cyndy Johnson
Director of Corporate Communications, Aviat Networks

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