Wireless Backhaul

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March 05, 2008

Introducing Wireless Backhaul

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

 

 
With the demand for bandwidth increasing, many providers are turning to a technique known as wireless backhaul. Backhaul is a method of transporting telecom traffic between distributed sites (in the wireless world, usually access points) and centralized points of presence.
 
A variety of backhaul configurations are possible. For example, wireless base stations can be connected to base station controllers. Or, an enterprise’s wireless site might be connected to a metro-wide Ethernet network. Or, a digital subscriber lines access multiplexer (DSLAM) might be connected to an Ethernet aggregation node.
 
Service providers employing backhaul must take into account a variety of factors, including capacity (bandwidth), cost, reach and how other necessary resources (e.g. frequency, optical fiber, rights of way) will be obtained.
 
As suggested here, a variety of technologies are used for backhaul. For example, point-to-point access technologies like WiFi (News - Alert) and WiMAX can be employed for backhauling. So can DSL and its variants (ADSL, SHDSL), and Ethernet.
 
Many service providers today are coming to the conclusion that Ethernet is a better technology for wireless backhaul than T1, which was often used in the past. The reason? One guess. That’s right, bandwidth. Ethernet is a more efficient technology for ensuring that bandwidth for mission-critical applications isn’t compromised, and that service level agreements (SLAs) can be met.
 
Although traditionally wireless technologies have been viewed as inferior when it comes to bandwidth, research firm Pioneer Consulting recently found that wireless backhaul is actually more cost-effective for 3G network setups than wireline solutions. 3G economics, the firm said, favor wireless backhaul in urban areas.
 
Further, Pioneer predicted that economic benefits associated with wireless backhaul will drive growth of the technology in North America, resulting in a penetration increase from 6 percent in 2006 to 10.6 percent in 2012. Because wireline backhaul is also dominant in other part of the world, there is room in most places for a similar level of growth for wireless backhaul.
 
To learn more about this technology, especially the benefits of Ethernet compared to T1 for backhaul, please visit the Wireless Backhaul channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Accedian Networks (News - Alert).
 
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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