Wireless Backhaul

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March 05, 2008

Wireless Backhaul Q and A

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

 

 
To find out more about wireless backhaul, TMCnet turned to Scott Sumner (News - Alert), Vice President of Marketing at Accedian Networks. Accedian provides, within its EtherNID product line, a wireless backhaul solution called Performance Assurance Agent. This is a hardware-assisted engine that allows constant and seamless in-service monitoring of Service Level Agreement parameters.
 
TMCnet: What is wireless backhaul?
 
Sumner: Wireless backhaul is the network, either fiber or microwave, that connects cellular towers (base stations) to the mobile switching center (MSC).  Telecommunications data received and transmitted from the towers is “backhauled” through these access, metro and core networks for transmission across the PSTN or to other cell sites. Traditionally, wireless backhaul is provided over leased T1/E1 links, but is moving towards Ethernet as bandwidth requirements per site increase up to 20x for 3G and 4G/LTE (News - Alert)/WiMAX networks.
 
TMCnet: How is the wireless service provider market now changing, and what role does wireless backhaul play in that evolution?
 
Sumner: Wireless operators are increasingly focusing on the evolution of their networks towards packet-based 3G and 4G/LTE/WiMAX (News - Alert) technology, and the real-time VoIP, video, instant messaging and data applications that will enable future revenues. As a result, they are increasing outsourcing their wireless backhaul networking to alternative access providers, cable MSOs and ILECs.
 
TMCnet: How are today’s service providers using Ethernet in ways that differ from previous applications of the technology?
 
Sumner: Ethernet has traditionally been a best effort service, lacking the standardized operations, administration and maintenance (OAM) and service level agreement-backed performance guarantees required for 4G/LTE/WiMAX backhaul networks. To enable the cost-benefits and bandwidth efficiencies of Ethernet-based wireless backhaul, providers must establish carrier-grade Ethernet services and monitor them with packet performance assurance solutions.
 
TMCnet: What are some of the specific challenges that wireless service providers face with Ethernet wireless backhaul, and how does service assurance and Ethernet service mapping make their jobs easier? 
 
Sumner: Millisecond Jitter and latency requirements, high availability and committed throughput are some of the challenges facing wireless backhaul networks based on Ethernet technology. Establishing carrier-grade Ethernet Virtual Circuits (EVCs) with service mapping, bandwidth policing, traffic filtering and shaping functionality creates the links required for emerging packet-based services, allowing providers to meet stringent wireless backhaul SLAs. The ability to perform remote, in-service testing, one-way delay and jitter monitoring, service assurance over mesh networks and to establish end-to-end OAM is critical to ensuring quality of service (QoS) and SLAs are met.
 
TMCnet: What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and how are they normally defined in wireless backhaul?
 
Sumner: SLAs are a contract between the wireless backhaul provider and the mobile operator, specifying performance and availability levels for the service provided.  Typical SLA parameters specify Commited Information Rate (CIR, throughput), Excess Information Rate (EIR), as well as burst capabilities, delay and jitter (typically 1-5 msec), and 99.99 percent to 99.999 percent availability. These represent some of the most strict SLAs in communications, and require well designed and monitored networks to deliver this level of performance.
 
TMCnet: What are the SLA-Meter & EVC Service Creation from Accedian Networks (News - Alert) — what do they do, and how does it relate to wireless backhaul?
 
Sumner: Accedian Network’s EVC Service Creation allows service providers to quickly create Ethernet Virtual Circuits (EVCs) for E-Line, E-LAN, and E-Tree services using advanced networking functionality built right into EtherNID demarcation units installed at cell sites and the MSC (News - Alert). Ideal for operators with mixed-vendor, multi-technology networks, EVC service mapping transparently creates Ethernet LAN services and avoids interoperability issues that result in provisioning delays and costly network upgrades.
 
Accedian Networks SLA-Meter combines three advanced test functions into a complete in-service SLA assessment tool. The PAA Performance Assurance Agent provides one-way jitter and delay measurement with an industry-leading microsecond resolution, while advanced per-SLA flow traffic statistics, stored directly on-board EtherNID and MetroNID demarcation units, provide usage information for trending and troubleshooting.
 
TMCnet: Can you briefly describe the EtherNID family of products from Accedian?
 
Sumner: Designed to demarc the edge of your network, EtherNIDs offer advanced Packet Performance Assurance and service creation directly from customer premises and cell-sites to central offices and mobile switching centers.  With a full range of Ethernet rates and interfaces, the comprehensive EtherNID family is designed to assure wireless backhaul and business services from end-to-end.
 
TMCnet: What differentiates ESAP from other backhaul assurance solutions?
 
Sumner: Accedian Networks’ Ethernet Service Assurance Platform (ESAP TM) provides in-service monitoring, loopback testing, remote troubleshooting, service management and network demarcation for high-performance wireless backhaul, business services and carrier hand-off applications. 
 
ESAP provides both service creation and assurance functionality for EtherNID and MetroNID demarcation units, which feature an all-hardware data-path and packet processing engine capable of in-service measurements with microsecond resolution, in-service RFC-2544 testing that doesn’t affect customer traffic, and intelligent layer 1-4 loopbacks for complete network and application QoS testing.  ESAP also provides complete, end-to-end OAM and SLA assurance functionality over any network, even multi-vendor, mutli-technology and multi-carrier networks.
 
TMCnet: What else should people know about Accedian Networks and wireless backhaul?
 
Sumner: Accedian Networks is currently a leading provider of wireless backhaul packet performance assurance and service creation solutions to a number of alternate access providers supporting WiMAX projects worldwide.
 
With the capability to provide complete SLA monitoring, including microsecond resolution one-way jitter and delay measurements, the Accedian Networks solution is regarded as an efficient, highly capable, carrier grade assurance solution that easily scales in mesh network environments.

To learn more about the technologies and products discussed in this article, please visit the Wireless Backhaul channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Accedian Networks.
 
Mae Kowalke is an associate editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.
Wireless Backhaul


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