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Getting capacity up for backhaul links

Posted: 30 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:backhaul links? LTE WiMAX? network connection capacity?

The capacity crunch is coming. In fact, it is already here. Demand for mobile data services is booming, driven by the growing popularity of media-rich applications such as Facebook and YouTube, and by new devices such as Apple's iPhone. Worldwide data and Internet traffic in mobile networks was estimated to be around 100 petabits per month (1petabit = 1,015bits or a million gigabits) in 2008, and it is doubling every 18 months or so. In fact, some report packet data usage to have increased by as much as eight times in a year.

This huge leap in traffic has been spurred by HSDPA-capable devices and infrastructure, which are being rolled out in mobile networks around the world. The most bandwidth previous generations of mobile phone required was a few hundred kilobits per second. Now, the capacity of each connection is increasing to tens of megabits per second.

The demand for higher capacity is relentless, and the data rate of next-generation LTE and WiMAX networks (being deployed in the coming years) can rise to a peak of 150Mbit/s per connection.

Millimeter wave is obviously not a panacea for all of the issues in high-capacity data backhaul, but does offer very wide bandwidths and is easily installed. Although lower range than low-frequency (and usually lower-capacity) microwave links, millimeter wave will be used in urban and suburban areas where the capacity demand is greatest and small antennas are very desirable, often in new network architectures with multiple paths to guarantee resilience. As new semiconductor and module technologies are widely adopted, millimeter-wave equipment costs will become competitive with lower-capacity microwave radios.

Millimeter wave is already a clear winner on cost-per-bit-per-second, and will be the major factor in solving the backhaul-capacity crunch.

View the PDF document for more information.

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