Every iPad that walks out the door kills another family outing for a mobile backhaul engineer somewhere in the world.
Okay, this isn’t technically true. But mobile data volumes are exploding as smartphones and tablets rise in use, and mobile backhaul networks are struggling to keep pace. Mobile data volumes are set to increase 25 times over by 2016, according to Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs (News - Alert) in an application note, IP/MPLS Mobile Backhaul for Heterogeneous Networks.
One way to cope with the data demands is through small cell backhaul.
Small cells help providers rapidly deploy extra bandwidth and fill in coverage, and they can be installed virtually anywhere: bus stops, lamp posts, within or outside buildings, and even in the back of a truck parked in a lot.
One challenge of small cell backhaul comes from its flexibility. However; it takes as many as 10 new small cell sites to equal one macro cell site, according to Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert). And, service providers need to choose the optimal solution from a wide range of technologies that can be used for a given set of circumstances which thereby necessitates proper management capabilities are in place for what will be heterogeneous backhaul networks. With small cell backhaul, a variety of technologies can be used: copper, Ethernet, fiber and microwave.
Mobile and fixed-line operators “need solutions for mobile backhaul that will enable them to cost-effectively support the build-out of complex, multi-technology or heterogeneous networks and the transition to 4G/LTE (News - Alert)-driven mobile traffic growth between cell/hub sites and the controller sites,” noted a recent Alcatel-Lucent application note on packet optical mobile backhaul, Responding to Mobile Capacity Challenges with Packet Optical Mobile Backhaul.
To address small cell backhaul challenges, Alcatel-Lucent recently has expanded its mobile backhaul portfolio on a number of fronts.
It has added new additions to its 7705 Service Aggregation Router family, introduced a new microwave backhaul option, expanded its professional services, and created broader copper- and fiber-based small cell backhaul access options.
The new service aggregation router equipment can support any mobile service--3G, 4G LTE or Wi-Fi—over any backhaul access using any network topology, according to a recent TMCnet article by Paula Bernier. The offering provides an end-to-end service layer for ease of management, advanced timing/synchronization, flexible powering options, and Auto-Discovery and Provisioning capabilities, and will ship the first quarter of 2013.
Alcatel-Lucent’s new microwave backhaul solutions, available now, include:
- 60gHz point-to-point line-of-sight solution
- Sub 6gHz point-to-point and point-to-multipoint non-line-of-sight option
- Increased capacity on its 9500 Microwave Packet Radio platform
In addition, wireline backhaul solutions now include a new DSL solution and a GPON that enables service providers to leverage existing backhaul infrastructure. DSL previously was too slow for backhaul, but new advances like pair bonding and vectoring have enabled 100-250mbps rates over legacy connections, making them a candidate for mobile small cell installations. Alcatel-Lucent makes GPON more attractive by adding a new pluggable component that connects with cell site radios or other network elements to enable backhaul functionality.
For additional information, check out Alcatel-Lucent’s mobile backhaul solutions portfolio and an insightful video on the subject.
Edited by Peter Bernstein