February 14, 2012
LTE – Lessons Learned So Far
Aviat Networks has been deploying LTE networks for well over a year now to operators globally, including the largest live commercial LTE network in operation today. So, it’s probably a good time to reflect on some key observations and lessons learned to date. Here are the top 3 things we’ve learned from our LTE microwave backhaul deployments that are most notable:
1. LTE backhaul capacity needs are being easily addressed by packet microwave:
– When it comes to capacity there is a perception that fiber is the only answer. The reality is that based on current LTE deployments, 50Mbps is more than adequate for most LTE cell sites today. Yet, for comfort and long term growth most of our customers are licensing and deploying 100-200Mbps of microwave capacity to their LTE equipped cell sites. For intermediary sites that aggregate traffic, link aggregation techniques are being utilized to effectively bond multiple channels for higher capacities, all well within the multi Gbps reach of advanced microwave systems, such as ours.
2. Ease of deployment and fast time to market (TTM) are critical for success:
– This LTE operator quote speaks volumes regarding the real challenge he faces: “Whoever can deliver the quickest with the least amount of pain will win most of the business”. TTM is most crucial for operators trying to stay one step ahead of their competition… more markets served, better coverage etc. To address this, we have seen a growth in our customers seeking a one stop shop approach for LTE microwave backhaul deployment where we engineer, configure, test, and deploy the full end–to-end system, providing overall project management, frequency coordination, installation and a host of other services. The fact that most microwave systems can be installed in a few weeks as opposed to months for fiber, is also playing a key role in microwave growth in areas like North America where microwave penetration is low, but growing as a result of LTE rollout.
3. Backwards compatibility with multivendor interoperability is key:
– It’s all about LTE, right? Well, yes and no. LTE is driving the new investment and deployments, but the reality is that 2/3G will be around for a long time. So, while the new deployments are driven by all-IP LTE, there are still ‘legacy’ T1/E1s still hanging around that also need to be backhauled. This has been a perfect fit for Aviat’s all-in-one Hybrid (TDM+IP) and All-IP microwave systems, which allow our customers to easily software configure their mix of traffic. So, while the bulk of the transport bandwidth is provisioned for IP to support LTE, some is still reserved for good ‘ole TDM.
– Another related aspect is multivendor interoperability across a variety of product types. The backhaul market has flourished in the last few years as we know, and so has the variety of cell site switches, routers, packet optical devices etc. that our microwave systems interoperate with to fulfill our customers ‘end-to-end’ LTE backhaul solution. Consistent Carrier Ethernet standards applied across both the microwave and fiber core makes this very straightforward when it comes to provisioning Ethernet backhaul services, supporting packet network synchronization, and managing these services.
So, in summary, I would say we’ve learned that packet microwave is well suited for LTE capacity needs; it can be rapidly and easily deployed; and provides great flexibility for legacy services and multi-vendor interoperability. But the best proof of all this is in our customers’ live networks.
Fore more information on LTE microwave backhaul and a customer case study click here.