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Gearing up for 4G – Backhaul Evolutions

12 марта 2009

With mobile WiMAX deployments and the prospects of LTE deployments not far off, demand for supporting solutions for backhaul is on the upswing. In the early days of the mobile wireless services, backhaul connectivity was a relatively straightforward but not always inexpensive undertaking.

Extending a T1 or E1 facility from the telco switching center to a cell site was the usual approach – limited in bandwidth and depending on how it was provisioned, sometimes a significant operational expense.

But times have changes for carriers and service providers. The days of circuit switched voice are on the decline and demand for high capacity, rapidly deployable backhaul is quickly becoming the norm. With the evolution of mobile IP networks came the need for more flexible and capable backhaul solutions – enter Ethernet interworking. The evolution seems logical enough, standards-based, proven, robust, scalable and secure; the list of positive attributes is lengthy. But those attributes aren’t without their challenges.

What is fairly easily accomplished over a
100 metres of copper or a 100 km of glass isn’t always the panacea for a mobile wireless network. Mobile networks have unique challenges for connectivity that include requirements such as timing (synchronization), low link latency and resiliency. These requirements continue to challenge engineers and designers alike and are resulting in some very compelling solutions.

To provide the type of backhaul bandwidth required, vendors are now pushing ever higher into the RF spectrum. Gigabit wireless connectivity is now being offered by vendors like ProximWireless and E-Band Communications who are now leveraging the 71/81 GHz licensed spectrum. This piece of spectrum offers some favorable characteristics for link distance, rain fade and other environmental influences.

And despite the dismal state of the global economy, investments in backhaul solutions continue to advance. Exalt Communications of Campbell, CA, announced last week that it has raised $15 million of funding to allow it to expand operations and its product portfolio. Another backhaul vendor, DragonWave Inc. recently announced its deal with Italian wireless broadband service provider Linkem Spa. DragonWave’s Horizon Compact Wireless Ethernet product will be deployed to support Linkem Spa’s new nationwide WiMAX backhaul network.

Further investment in and evolution of wireless backhaul technology continues to show promise. As carriers continue to commit to a path to 4G the backhaul industry will need to gear up to not only deliver solutions but to differentiate them as well.


By Andrew Mitchell

Источник: WiMAX Trends

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