With broadband demand growing exponentially, service providers have a pressing need to upgrade their backhaul networks to support the demand. In particular, microwave transmission is one area where providers are upgrading.
Microwave long-haul transport networks are commonly used to extend optical transport networks in areas where optical fiber is either too difficult or too costly to deploy. Much of this microwave backhaul is still using time division multiplexing (TDM) technology and High-speed Packet Access+ (HSPA). However, operators need to move to Long Term Evolution (LTE (News - Alert)) to meet demand and be ready for future growth and hence they need next generation backhaul solutions to provide a more efficient and effective end-to-end network.
This move away from TDM backhaul is afoot. According to Dell’ (News - Alert)Oro, by 2016 roughly 90 percent of long-haul systems will be packet-based instead of TDM-based.
A recent paper by Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert), “Microwave for the Long-Haul with Alcatel-Lucent 9500 Microwave Packet Radio,” outlined some of the characteristics that operators should consider when selecting hardware for their microwave transmission upgrade.
First, it is important to look for strong radio frequency in microwave transceivers.
“When considering long-haul requirements to reach new outlying locations, few parameters are as important as system gain and modem performance,” noted the paper. “Higher system gain translates directly into specific benefits for the network operator. It can dramatically increase the path distance that can be covered, eliminating the cost of unneeded repeater sites in long linear networks.”
Even shorter paths can benefit, for higher system gain reduces the amount of antenna gain needed, allowing operators to install smaller diameter antennas.
Efficiency and reliability at scale needs to be considered. One approach that helps microwave backhaul transmit faster and more efficiently is the use of a multichannel approach that combines microwave channels together and delivers higher throughput to address the needs of new IP services and applications.
Operators should also look for power-efficient transceivers to maximize microwave link distance, and packet compression for increased efficiency.
Further, transceivers such as the Alcatel-Lucent 9500 MPR can deliver Cross-Polarization Interference Cancelation (XPIC) to double spectrum capacity.
When selecting a microwave transceiver, it also is important to focus on standards-based networking.
Demand won’t slacken any time soon, which means operators need to keep upgrading infrastructure to stay competitive. With backhaul representing 50 percent or more of the cost of providing mobile services, the importance deploying a cost-effective next generation microwave backhaul solutions, particularly in places where fiber does not and cannot reach, is as the research shows a priority for services providers as they deploy LTE.
Edited by Peter Bernstein