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February 22, 2013

Study Finds Mobile Operators Continuing to Augment Backhaul Capacity

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

Latest study by market research firm Visant Strategies shows that mobile wireless carriers to augment backhaul capacity outside of urban areas to meet subscriber demands for more bandwidth. And as 3.5G and 4G usage rises, mobile carriers will further increase high-capacity backhaul in urban areas that have already been addressed with improved backhaul, predicts Visant Strategies’ newest report "US Mobile Backhaul 2013: Broadband Wireless Realized."

In a statement, Andy Fuertes of Visant Strategies, said, "By year-end 2017 we foresee US mobile carriers almost doubling the percentage of their urban and near-urban BTS sites utilizing backhaul capacity between 301 Mbps and 622 Mbps."

The study suggests that overall mobile wireless carriers have embraced fiber backhaul carriage in urban areas in order to offer capable and affordable backhaul in the ten percent of cell sites which receive most of the peak network traffic. In fact, according to Visant Strategies, US Mobile carriers have now reached over 80 percent of these urban base stations with fiber coverage.

In another statement, Visant Strategies’ Larry Swasey commented, “Carriers will continue using a mix of technologies for better backhaul due to a greater diversity of backhaul capacity needs, which of course depends on the location of the base station in the network." Furthermore, the study finds that the limited fiber availability outside of major metro areas will require carriers to look to PTP solutions.

The report indicates that backhaul capacity per site, per base station and to the switches that connect these network elements will increase through 2017. Consequently, about 40 percent of middle network switches are expected to require more than 1 Gbps of capacity by the year-end 2017 while base station sites requiring less than 45 Mbps will decline by over 50 percent by 2017.

The report details the current and future US mobile backhaul market through subscribers, 3.5G and 4G subscribers, base stations, base stations by backhaul capacity, base stations per site, BTS sites and technology choice for backhaul. The report also defines the growth of network elements and the backhaul needs for these elements.

Moreover, the report provides through 2017 the backhaul costs to the operator, operating and backhaul cost per subscriber and voice, data and overall ARPU. Also provided are backhaul cost per last mile, tower rental revenues and market share by backhaul technology and by ILEC, MSO, or CLEC, among other figures.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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