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Invaders of the last mile


03 August 2011

Invaders of the last mile
Following on from our 'Small cell, big opportunity' article, these critters have certainly been invading the media in a big way and there’s no surprise that backhaul is high on the agenda.

It’s been obvious for a long time that the data wave will crucify those operators that aren’t prepared and yes, many are addressing it with LTE.

Yet it’s clear that additional ‘densification’ of the radio access network is also needed, something we’ve been saying for the past three years - small cells are the latest solution and one that looks very attractive.

Small cell strategies might incorporate a range of options including outdoor picocells, metrocells and carrier-grade enterprise femtocells but the challenge for operators is that this fundamental change in network architecture requires a fundamentally different backhaul solution; a solution that can support the number of deployments and a variety of different small cell technologies.

Existing technologies may play some role in small cell backhaul but there are some glaring obvious problems for widespread adoption.

Wi-Fi might work for low-value data traffic but as more operators look to monetise their high-value data traffic in an attempt to increase ARPU, they need transport networks where they control the quality of service.

If operators want to take full advantage of LTE, using the additional speed and capacity to satisfy mobile user demand and even ‘stealing’ business from fixed line providers, they need a technically and economically viable backhaul solution.

Multipoint microwave is clearly the obvious solution and it’s for that reason that we are seeing tier 1 operator’s trialling the technology in Europe.

Whichever technology is adopted, it’s important that we remember that mobile services are now considered as important as power, gas and water for many and any backhaul technology needs, like VectaStar, to be trialled, tested and proven comprehensively in the field.

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