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Backhaul

Published 05 November 2015 in Backhaul, Events
Tags: AfricaCom, digital dividend, tower sharing, Backhaul, LTE

Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

One of the pleasures of attending AfricaCom is gaining insight into the most recent innovations in network architecture, and particularly in understanding how the business case for a mobile network can be improved by technical innovation.

The macroscopic telecoms environment features exponentially growing customer demand for data, delivered within a flat-to-declining ARPU envelope. 

This is particularly the case in Africa, and is driving a number of phenomena in all parts of the modern mobile network.

One example is tower sharing, whereby operators can reduce their capex and opex by amortising the costs of infrastructure across their combined subscriber bases.

Another example is the use of so-called ‘digital dividend’ ex-broadcast spectrum at 700 and 800MHz to create LTE coverage across wide areas more cost effectively. 

The physical propagation characteristics of these low frequencies mean that a given LTE base station can provide coverage to a larger radius. 

In turn, that means more subscribers are served by a single base station.

These approaches help in delivering services more cost effectively because they both increase the degree to which infrastructure is shared amongst subscribers. 

The neat part is that this increased sharing does not compromise the user experience in any way. 

This is because users’ data demands in mobile networks are statistically mutually asynchronous. 

In other words, it doesn’t matter how many other subs might use a given set of network resources throughout the day, only the number using those resources at a precise instant.

In the backhaul segment of the network, another example of a technology which can enhance network ROI is PMP microwave. 

Just as in the previous two examples, PMP microwave increases the amount of sharing of infrastructure that occurs. 

In this case, a single hub radio and its RF channel is time-division multiplexed amongst amongst multiple 3G or LTE base stations, avoiding the need for dedicated hub backhaul hardware for each base station. 

Again, because of the statistical asynchrony of backhaul requirements, there is no difference in the service delivered to the base station or end user. 

Using efficient technology in this way can create TCO savings of nearly 50% for the backhaul network.

African mobile operators are world leaders in adopting all three approaches described above, and in making a virtue of the necessity to do so. 

Because the growth in data demand shows no sign of abating, creating a relentless need to deliver more bits for the same cost, these techniques are becoming increasingly relevant in all regions of the world.

As in previous years, the CBNL executive team will be attending AfricaCom 2015 and look forward to meeting our customers and media from across the continent.

If you are attending AfricaCom and would like to meet us at the event, please email Chris Wright, CBNL’s Marketing Director, at cwright@cbnl.com who will be happy to schedule a meeting for you at the CBNL suite. 

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

Dr John Naylon, Chief Technology Officer, CBNL

Whilst Brazil is on course to stage two major global events, there is huge potential to learn from previous events, global best practices and technologies/applications.Millions of people are expected to flock to Brazil during the summer to attend one of the most widely viewed sporting events in the world.

Spectators will be equipped with smartphones and tablets to catalogue every moment, call family and friends or share photos and videos on social media.

With Brazil going through a mobile revolution of its own, mobile broadband subscriptions have increased year on year, the 2014 FIFA World Cup could be the biggest mobile event ever held.

However, the challenges facing Brazilian operators to quickly and flexibly increase mobile connectivity are considerable – the huge strain on Brazilian mobile and internet networks will be unprecedented.

The expected surge in mobile data demand, on top of an already strained network, will require a huge amount of infrastructure and capacity planning, as well as studying lessons learnt from previous major events.

The 2012 Olympics in London, for instance, was considered the most digital Olympics ever, with its high reliance on technology for infrastructure, services and information, as well as consumption by global audiences.

There was a significant dependence on mobile data and the network infrastructure needed to backhaul the surge in traffic.

The event saw over 627,000 Facebook check-ins across the 40 plus Olympic venues.

The surge in traffic meant operators had to quickly provide multiple areas of increased mobile coverage and capacity across venues and the wider city.

At a time where CAPEX for large communication projects is limited, the demand for next generation mobile services requires innovative infrastructure which not only provides the performance needed, but can be deployed quickly and cost effectively.

An approach taken by operators during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and London 2012 was to deploy high capacity point-to-multipoint (PMP) microwave backhaul.An approach taken by operators during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and London 2012 was to deploy high capacity point-to-multipoint (PMP) microwave backhaul.

By deploying PMP microwave, operators were able to quickly, flexibly and cost effectively bring the network closer to consumers at demand hot spots (stadiums, highly populated streets, etc) and provide a seamless high quality of service.

PMP microwave creates a sector of coverage from a single hub site which can backhaul a number of cell sites.

By aggregating multiple cell site traffic to a single hub, PMP saves on the large equipment costs of traditional backhaul technologies and is able to intelligently allocate 3G, LTE or Wi-Fi mobile capacity where it is needed most.

As network challenges grow at the same pace as user expectations, cost effective technologies like PMP microwave are particularly attractive to operators where the average revenue per user is low as it delivers every bit of data in the most economical way possible.

Whilst Brazil is on course to stage two major global events, there is huge potential to learn from previous events, global best practices and technologies/applications.

Though the challenges of delivering mobile communication infrastructure for major events are significant, by utilising the best and most innovative technologies, the FIFA World Cup and Olympics will be sure to deliver victory on the track and field that the audience can share the world over.

The CBNL team

LTE Backhaul Traffic EstimationCBNL has authored a white paper for the NGMN on “Guidelines for LTE Backhaul Traffic Estimation”.

The paper describes how a model is developed to predict traffic levels in transport networks used to backhaul LTE eNodeBs and how backhaul traffic is made up of a number of different components of which user plane data is the largest, comprising around 80-90% of overall traffic.

The impact of IPsec encryption and the particular traffic patterns of data services are also taken into account.

The result is that the aggregated traffic volumes allow better resource sharing than voice carrying networks – a detailed guideline for link capacity estimation is also provided.

Read the white paper here.