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Mobile Subscriber Usage Drives Backhaul

Mobile phone service providers and backhaul transport providers are expected to spend $8.2 billion on mobile first mile backhaul equipment in 2010, with Ethernet copper and fiber equipment growing the fastest, according to Infonetics Research.

Based upon their latest market study, the top 3 drivers behind the rapidly increasing numbers of mobile backhaul base stations, cell sites, base stations per cell site, and required bandwidth include:

- A fast-growing number of worldwide mobile subscribers, which is jumping from 2.6 billion in 2006 to 4.2 billion in 2010.

- Heavy competition, which is forcing operators to upgrade their equipment and network capacity to improve and add new subscriber services.

- An explosion in mobile data and video use, which requires providers to significantly increase the bandwidth they offer, from Kbps to a few Mbps to tens of Mbps.

"Clearly, 2008 will be the year of adoption for IP/Ethernet backhaul, and 2009 will kick off the Ethernet mobile backhaul revolution," said Michael Howard, principal analyst of Infonetics Research and lead analyst on the report. "Ethernet made up just 1 percent of total mobile backhaul equipment revenue in 2006, but will grow to 21 percent of the market by 2010. The Swisscom Mobile contract that Tellabs won recently for IP, Ethernet, and pseudowire cell site backhaul is the first of many we'll see over the next 18 months."

Additional highlights from the Infonetics report include:

- IP first mile mobile backhaul equipment sales are forecast to increase at a phenomenal 210 percent 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2006 and 2010.

- The number of mobile first mile backhaul connections is expected to nearly double between 2005 and 2010.

- The use of Ethernet over copper, fiber, and microwave for installed and new mobile backhaul connections will accelerate in 2010 -- very dramatically for new connections -- while PDH wireline and PDH/SDH microwave connections sharply decrease.

- By 2010, service providers using PDH and ATM over PDH for their first mile mobile backhaul connections will be paying more than 5 times as much in service charges per connection as those using new wireline services (Ethernet copper and fiber, DSL, cable, PON).

- Many operators in Europe, and to a lesser extent in North America and Asia Pacific, are planning to use Ethernet packet backhaul over DSL due to DSL's cheaper prices, wider availability, and reliance on copper-fed cell sites.

- EMEA -- with Europe, Middle East, and Africa all contributing -- accounts for 42 percent of worldwide mobile first mile backhaul equipment revenue in 2007; Asia Pacific for 37 percent, CALA 14 percent, and North America 6 percent.

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