Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, March 02, 2012

Fiber-Enabled Mobile Service Backhaul Growth

The next generation of consumer electronics (CE) devices has made mobile connectivity a key focal point. Mobile phones are something of a gateway device -- enabling consumers to select the most interesting mobile content.

Between mobile applications, data, voice, and video, global wireless bandwidth usage has increased ten-fold since 2008, and there are no signs of it slowing.

The process by which these consumer electronic devices communicate with the content source is called backhaul.

According to the latest NPD In-Stat market study, they now forecast that the number of fiber-enabled mobile service backhaul macro base stations will approach 1.8 million in 2014.

"For mobile operators the challenge is to match the best backhaul solutions with the needs of their networks. In tailoring the proper backhaul solution, operators have to balance considerations like cost and time of deployment," said Chris Kissel, Senior Analyst at NPD In-Stat.

At the same time, operators must leverage their existing investments, while being able to scale their networks. If the target bandwidth for a current backhaul solution is 100Mbps, five years from now the same operator may need 1Gbps at that site.

Therefore, operators seek cost-effective backhaul solutions that can be scaled in the future at a reasonable cost. There is a mosaic of solutions that help mobile operators to meet these goals.

NPD In-Stat latest research found the following:
  • China Mobile estimates that 96 percent of its base stations have fiber-optic access.
  • Cable operators can generate revenue by using all of their bandwidth in their hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) cable. Revenue would be derived from cable TV/data and mobile backhaul.
  • In the U.S. market, a point-to-point microwave license costs $1,800 and expires in ten years. Licensees are entitled to 50MHz in the frequency band for which they apply.
  • As it is with macrocells, fiber is the preferred backhaul medium for small cells.