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Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

At first it doesn’t seem like modern transmission technology and accommodation booking would have many similarities!

In the abstract, however, they do share one key characteristic: the ability to dynamically reallocate resources according to demand.

In a PMP system the resources are units of time (of the order of microseconds) on a radio frequency carrier; in Airbnb the resources are units of time (in days this time) of occupancy of a room or apartment.

Why do we want to allocate resources dynamically in these two cases?

The answer is that we wish to increase the utilisation of the underlying asset: the RF carrier in the PMP case, and the room or apartment in the Airbnb case.

In a PMP system, if one link in a sector is instantaneously using less capacity than its “fair share”, then the system can reallocate those resources to another link that may have excess demand at that instant.

Likewise, if I am on holiday for two weeks, and so not using my apartment, then I may choose to rent it out while I am away.

In both cases, a resource that would have been idle - carrying no traffic, or sitting empty - is now utilised beneficially.

More importantly, this is not just a theoretical plus, but also translates into a financial benefit.

In the Airbnb case, the owner of the asset has extra income to pay for the purchase and maintenance of the asset. 

In the PMP case, overall spectrum requirements to carry a given volume of data across numerous links are reduced, and so is the financial cost of renting that spectrum from the regulator (we cover this reduction in much more detail here).

It’s this financial benefit that is driving the adoption of PMP, and also the uptake of platforms like Airbnb.

The same underlying characteristic is common to a number of other platforms and technologies; for instance Uber (like Airbnb dealing with physical resources), cloud computing and server virtualisation (like us dealing with intangible resources).

Incidentally, here at CBNL we often use Airbnb to meet our business travel needs, and we’ve stayed in some great and colourful places as a result!

Chris Wright, Marketing Manager, CBNL

It's five years since of the most significant landmarks in the telecommunications industry – when data overtook voice as the dominant traffic on mobile networks. 

This highlighted 3G and smartphone adoption across many high subscriber markets, but only really provided a glimpse of what was to come. 

Since then data has become five times that of voice. With 40 million new LTE subscriptions added during Q4 2013, data is only going one way.

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report provides an excellent summary and got us thinking.

What effect has the rise of data had on backhaul, and more specifically, how have we supported operators in developing products to meet the challenges?

Higher capacity, greater efficiency, lower costs and feature rich platforms to support quick deployment have all become staple backhaul requirements.

We’ve been privileged to support some of the largest operators in the world with solutions to meet these requirements, but have not stood still to achieve this.

Since 2009 we’ve launched four new product variants which efficiently backhaul today’s data demand trends, the latest being the wideband VectaStar Gigabit and Metro unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

To understand VectaStar’s progression over the last five years in more depth we analysed some key performance indicators which are shown on our new infographic.

As you can see, we’ve made vast technical advances which have united to establish VectaStar as one of the leading backhaul technologies on the market today.


Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

CBNL doubles mobile backhaul capacity for LTE networks At Mobile World Congress this year, CBNL launched ODU-W, its VectaStar wideband point-to-multipoint (PMP) backhaul solution.

As well as being the highest capacity PMP backhaul solution in the marketplace, ODU-W is the fifth generation of the VectaStar portfolio: 5G backhaul!

The VectaStar platform has been under continuous development for over a decade.

During that time the capacity the product line can serve in a single sector has increased by a factor of ten, from 120Mbps to 1.2Gbps, while at the same time the total cost of ownership of the solution has fallen dramatically.

Correspondingly the worldwide adoption of PMP as a backhaul technology has grown rapidly and VectaStar is now used by seven of the world’s top ten largest operator groups by subscriber numbers.

Of course we are being slightly tongue-in-cheek in referring to the latest version of VectaStar as “5G backhaul”.

Most people will understand this as referring to backhaul for the generation of RAN systems that will come after 4G (LTE and LTE-Advanced).

Audience at the NGMN Press ConferenceCBNL are members of, and significant contributors to, the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance, or NGMN, an industry collaboration that was pivotal in the worldwide adoption of LTE.

We are therefore extremely excited by the NGMN’s new initiative for 5G announced at Mobile World Congress, and look forward to collaborating on the first outputs, expected later this year.

This kind of industry partnership is one of the prime ways that CBNL ensures its products are suited to the most demanding networking applications on earth, soon also to include 5G backhaul!

Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

We recently spoke to The Mobile Network about some of the novel approaches our customers are taking to building next generation backhaul.

Just as application-specific physical servers in the data centre are becoming a thing of the past, at CBNL we think that application-specific networks are starting to go the same way. 

By re-using the same physical infrastructure to run multiple virtual network applications, our customers are making significant savings and creating additional benefits, such as lowered end-user churn.

Taking advantage of powerful, in-built QoS-aware scheduling and soft service definitions, CBNL’s VectaStar platform transforms a previously inflexible and costly part of the network. 

Multiple virtual networks are easily defined and new requirements like small cell backhaul can be added when needed.

The figure below shows data from one of our customers who are back hauling 3G, LTE and enterprise access across a high capacity VectaStar network at 26 and 28GHz. 

The network already comprises almost 5,000 links. Despite the mobile data traffic trebling in less than two years, there is plenty of room for further growth not just in the raw number of links, but also by adding completely new backhaul applications, such as small cell.

The feature can be found on pages 30-33 of the latest edition of The Mobile Network.

If you’re in Barcelona next week, please come and visit us at the CBNL stand - Hall 5, Stand 5H27

We’ll be running a live demo of the new VectaStar wideband platform showing how a high capacity mobile cell site can be backhauled within the same sector as an enterprise access customer with a custom QoS profile.

We hope to see you there.

CBNL stand location at Mobile World Congress 2014

Hall 5, Stand 5H27

Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

We recently talked about how to choose between PMP and PTP from a technical perspective, so now let’s have a look at this choice from a financial standpoint.

The following slides work through a simplified version of the TCO model we use with new customers, detailing all the assumptions we make.

We believe the total cost of ownership is by far the best way to make a rational choice between different types of equipment. 

After all, it is no use having very low cost equipment if the spectrum rental to operate it is extortionately expensive. 

Likewise free spectrum sounds fantastic, but if the equipment that operates in that band is itself very expensive the overall solution cost is not likely to be optimal.

As shown on slide 10, PMP begins to show very significant TCO savings as soon as the average number of sites per backhaul hub increases beyond one or two. 

In networks we deploy today, this average is usually 5 or 6 links per hub, and this number is steadily rising as networks continue to densify.

For our bigger customers, the savings realised run into millions of dollars per annum!