The small cell backhaul has been a bit quiet recently… but now it’s back with a vengeance, as operators demand affordable gigabit backhaul to meet next generation capacity requirements everywhere.

The principle market for small cell backhaul is urban densification. Initially we saw relatively small deployments as operators used them tactically as a precision tool to fix isolated problem areas in their network. Operators are now urgently scaling up deployments to become part of their densification strategy. And this is where backhaul is needed. According to consultants IHS Technology, backhaul connections for urban small cells are set to multiply by 20 times between 2016 and 2020, driving cumulative spending of $6.4bn in the same period.

At a recent Small Cell Forum webinar, operators didn’t mince words when describing the challenges they’re facing, and how they’d like things to change. There were calls to unify planning which differs from city to city, let alone country to country. At the same time, there is great interest in using higher frequency spectrum for 5G access. However, this places uncertainty around the microwave and millimeter wave backhaul solutions which currently use these bands.

As the road to 5G beckons, the essential role of automation in deploying and operating dense HetNets becomes increasingly evident. SON today is largely RAN centric – automating cell ID and neighbor list allocations. In future, operators need to automate all aspects of end to end service delivery, including backhaul. Operators need small cells and backhaul to be plug, play and forget to avoid high and unexpected O&M costs.

Virtualization of small cells is also changing the game for backhaul. The Small Cell Forum has now published its nFAPI interface which enables C-RAN benefits over packet Ethernet type connections, unlike CPRI based C-RAN which generally needs fiber. Other so-called ‘functional splits’ of the small cell are possible, each providing a different tradeoff between the benefits of centralization and the required backhaul performance. In the longer term, virtualized functions can be moved around according to transport performance, allowing operators to squeeze the most from their deployed assets. This is why the need for guidelines on transport performance requirements for different splits is an early priority.

So after the hype and the disillusionment, small cell backhaul is once again re-asserting its place as an essential ingredient in the future HetNet.

News & Events

21st Century Santa

At Real Wireless, we’re known for our world-class consultancy and expertise in all things wireless and connectivity. It was ‘snow’ surprise therefore when we were asked to deliver recommendations on how to use wireless technology to modernise a toy production facility...

Rail connectivity: don’t reinvent the wheel

Why should we improve wireless connectivity along transport corridors? And how? The answer to the first question isn’t difficult. Good connectivity is no longer a selling point; it’s an expectation. End users don’t know the complexities involved in guaranteeing a...

We’re back to talking HetNets

Users buy experiences. And in today’s continually connected world, connectivity is an experience we seek out and cannot do without. We want instant access to online information and services, whether at home, out and about or on the move. Connectivity is increasingly...

We are members of

Tech UK
Cambridge Wireless
Networld 2020
Telecom Infra Project
Wireless World Research Forum
Wireless World Research Forum
Telecom Infra Project

Our awards

 

We are members of

Tech UK
Cambridge Wireless
ESSMA
Networld 2020
Telecom Intra Project
Wireless World Research Forum

Our awards

BSI Assurance ISO
BSI Assurance ISO

Copyright ©2008- Real Wireless Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Company registered in England and Wales no. 6016945.
Registered address: Crown House, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX.