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Transmission Technologies

Business case for Mobile Backhaul (MBH)

by Michael W. – Instructor of Telefocal

Backhaul technologies have increased in requirements as each new smart phone comes to market. As the evolution of technical requirements has moved from 2G onto 4G LTE the high-speed links have become essential to ensure that high speeds can be fully utilized within the LTE spectrum.

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With the introduction of a three sector eNode-B with a channel of more than or equal to 200MHZ in each sector, it has enabled peak data rates that are over 300mbits in total. As eNodes-Bs is usually co-located with UMTS and GSM base stations, the required combined backhaul bandwidth could hence be even higher.  Backhaul technologies have become suitable for three types of connectivity which produce high data rates.

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Copper-based twisted pair cables have been used to connect base station sites to the backhaul network. Presently UMTS networks use 2mbits E1 links and the aggregation of a few links was fine for supporting backhaul bandwidth.  Another alternative is VDSL which can deliver data rates of up to 100mbits. This is not enough to cover peak periods when a cell site requires high throughput bandwidth.

As a Mobile operator who wants to use another operators backhaul network without increasing their operational cost they are able to meet their needs by this type of arrangement, as they do not need to invest in any form of network deployment but are able to offer a fast backhaul link to the base stations. They also have the option to use high-speed Ethernet-type microwave solutions that offer backhaul capabilities, of the scale of hundreds of megabits per second, or with the newer generation of microwave that is capable of generating bandwidth of Gigabits per second.

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LTE is purely an IP technology; the backhaul link should preferably offer native IP connectivity. UMTS base stations often require ATM connectivity, which can be simulated over IP. The current generation of UMTS digital modules in base stations is also capable of natively connecting Node-Bs over an IP connection to the RNC. GSM technology continues to be based on an E-1 timeslot-based architecture.  Virtualization of E-1 connections can help to transparently tunnel the backhaul link over the installed IP connection. This way, all three base stations can be backhauled over a single link. In future, GSM, UMTS, and LTE multi-mode base stations might only contain a single digital backhaul module and thus the different traffic types can be transparently routed over a single IP connection.

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The general idea behind a 3G/4G IP Ethernet Mobile network is that one network transports all information and services (voice, data, and all sorts of media such as video) by utilising packet switched networks. Ethernet backhaul networks are commonly built around the Internet Protocol (IP), and therefore the term “all-IP” is also sometimes used to describe the transformation toward backhaul networks.

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We are seeing that mobile carriers are investing heavily in Ethernet technology so that they can implement more services to the consumer. There is a business case – it can increase revenue quickly as can be see in the case when the IPhone 4S came out in October of 2011, data for users doubled in a month.

Referencing reuter’s article on mobile data on January 6 2012: When Apple rolled out the iPhone 4S in October 2011, its small improvements disappointed many analysts and reviewers. But consumers’ demand for the device have been strong, and buyers have extensively used their devices.

IPhone 4S users transfer on average three times more data than users of the older iPhone 3G model which was used as the benchmark in a study by telecom network technology firm Arieso.

Data usage of the previous model, the iPhone 4, was only 1.6 times higher than the iPhone 3G, while iPad2 tablets consumed 2.5 times more data than the iPhone 3G, the study showed.

The challenge for carriers is to keep up with the demand and not have slow downloads due to the network being capped out. As Ethernet becomes the de factoe standard to carry IP traffic it will become easier and cheaper for the carriers to keep up with the demand once the network is in place. Ethernet has become the universal spanner and TCP/IP is the nuts which will fit any application that the consumer demands.

Why Ethernet?

Today Ethernet is the most widespread communication technology in electronic data processing systems. In the office environment, Ethernet has become established as the standard technology.

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Ethernet offers a wide range of transmission media such as copper, glass fiber, and wireless; data transmission rates range from 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s through 1 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s.

Why IP?

IP is the most widely used network protocol with several billion users worldwide. IPv6, sometimes termed IPNG (IP Next Generation) will allow for many billions of users. IP is a robust packet system with excellent routing capabilities and with the addition of recent new protocols, has the capability of carrying almost any type of data, including Data, Voice, Video and Multimedia. It is vendor independent and is capable of operating between almost any operating system including Microsoft, Linux, UNIX, Solaris, and Apple etc.


Combining both Ethernet and IP they have become a De facto for best in place technologies where any type of service can run over any type of transport. Mobile backhaul networks has become a NGN and has evolved to offer a personal level of boutique services that consumers and business expect in a connected world for the 21st Century.


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