It’s pretty simple – network operators need to build more capacity to support active or future planned deployments of 5G. Even operators who don’t see 5G on the horizon yet are facing new capacity demands, whether they have 4G/LTE networks or are delivering rural broadband services using fixed wireless access.
Africell Sierra Leone is a mobile network operator in West Africa with over 4 million subscribers who had just launched 4G in 2018 on their radio access network. This launch caused capacity constraints on the transport layer of their network.
According to NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, broadband use has multiplied by more than twenty times since the early 2000s. However, three out of every ten Americans still do not enjoy its benefits. That represents a sizable market, and a good part of that market is in rural areas that lack the infrastructure for it. For service providers, the challenges lie in entering those markets quickly and effectively, and at lower ownership and operational costs than fiber or other solutions.
In many wireless networks, transport engineering looks after the microwave radio function while the IT department has domain over IP equipment. These two organizations started independently and grew separately over many years. It did not seem that there was any problem with this arrangement.
However, it led to the selection of equipment—radios and routers—that worked really well on their own but had no awareness of one another. Not surprisingly, these technology solutions did not perform together optimally.