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LTE Capacity Shortfall: Why Small Cell Backhaul is the Answer ?

LTE Capacity Shortfall: Why Small Cell Backhaul is the Answer ?

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Published by Aviat Networks
With exploding demand for mobile broadband services, networks must evolve to meet expanding capacity and coverage demands. Small cells are emerging as a viable technology. This paper reviews how backhaul for small cells will need to adjust to meet the specific challenges for small cell deployment.
With exploding demand for mobile broadband services, networks must evolve to meet expanding capacity and coverage demands. Small cells are emerging as a viable technology. This paper reviews how backhaul for small cells will need to adjust to meet the specific challenges for small cell deployment.

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Published by: Aviat Networks on Apr 10, 2011
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1 AVIAT NETWORKS FEBRUARY 2011
TECHNICAL BRIEF
THE LTE CAPACITY SHORTFALL: WHY SMALL CELL BACKHAULIS THE ANSWER
With exploding demand for mobile broadband services and emergence of new high-capacity mobiledevices and data-intensive applications, the world’s most advanced mobile networks will increasinglystruggle to deliver a high-quality consumer experience. As networks continuously evolve to meetcapacity and coverage demands with the latest technological capabilities (i.e., 3.5G, 4G), network costsare exploding, network upgrade costs are passed on to the consumer via data caps and operatorsstruggle to maintain profitable businesses.Although Long Term Evolution (LTE) promises two to three times capacity improvement over current3G networks, this will be insufficient to address future expected capacity demands. Mobile data trafficis forecast to double every year, growing 32 times by 2014
1
.Acquiring more LTE spectrum would help operators provide more capacity, but additional spectrum iscostly and in most cases not available. The latest enhancement to LTE, LTE-Advanced, will increasespectral efficiency and new traffic management approaches such as caching and mobile offloading(e.g., mobile gateways, femto-cells, Wi-Fi, etc) also offer promise of higher network capacities.However, due to the vast amount of mobile data demand these solutions will be insufficient to addressthe capacity shortfall. A new approach is required.
EMERGENCE OF SMALL CELLS
To meet these capacity challenges and address ever-present coverageissues, new small cell network architectures are emerging based on a newgeneration of low-power, small-cell (micro/pico/femto) mobile basestations.ABI Research estimates 4 million of these small base stations will beshipped per year by 2015. Small cells can be deployed into an existingnetwork on lampposts, utility poles and building walls, to augment themacro-cell network, providing capacity as well as coverage.Because there are now many more sites in hard-to-reach locations, smallcells create a host of new challenges for the backhaul network. As a result,backhaul will be the central challenge for enabling widespread adoption ofsmall cells.
SMALL CELL BACKHAUL: WIRED OR WIRELESS
When considering backhaul options, operators must first ponder the choice between wireline andwireless backhaul. As there is generally no “one-size-fits-all” solution, we are likely to see a mix ofbackhaul technologies deployed to meet the small cell backhaul challenge.However, because of challenging utility pole and lamppost deployments, operators cannot rely on fixedline options (such as fiber, cable, copper/DSL) being ubiquitously available and will insteadincreasingly rely on wireless solutions for small cell backhaul.
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Cisco VNI: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast 2010.
 
 
 
2 AVIAT NETWORKS FEBRUARY 2011
TECHNICAL BRIEF
SMALL CELL BACKHAUL
 
SMALL CELL BACKHAUL: CHALLENGES
Operators and equipment vendors should consider the following key factors when selecting anddesigning wireless backhaul solutions for small cells:
 
Lower cost solutions needed
. Smaller cells mean many more cell sites and thus more backhaullinks. To meet overall cost objectives, dramatically lower cost backhaul solutions are required.Macro-cell backhaul CAPEX is typically on the order 50 percent of total base station CAPEX. Alower ratio would be desired to ensure a cost-effective, acceptable solution.
 
Space-optimized solutions required
. Challenging lamppost and utility pole deployment locationsplace restrictions on the physical attributes of any backhaul solution. Unlike traditional cell sites,typical dish antennas will not be feasible for such deployments. In addition, because of spaceconstraints and operational costs, integrated backhaul and basestation hardware will be required.
 
Line-of-Sight (LOS) not possible
. Street level, metro area deployments mean line-of-sight tobackhaul hub locations is not always—in fact, rarely—possible. Directional dish antennas,combined with lack of LOS characteristics, mean that traditional point-to-point wireless backhaulwill be unsuitable for most small cell backhaul applications.
 
Interference must be carefully managed
. When backhauling multiple sites simultaneously, theclose proximity of cell sites creates possible interference issues for the backhaul system. Theseinterference issues do not exist with licensed point-to-point microwave backhaul, althoughcareful attention for spectrum re-use will be needed because many more frequency pairs will beneeded.
 
High capacity solutions required
. Driven by increasing demand for mobile data, backhaulrequirements for small cells are expected to approach macro cell capacity requirements (50-100Mbit/s per cell site) in next three years.
WIRELESS NLOS BACKHAUL FOR SMALL CELLS
To tackle the challenges posed by small cell backhaul, new non-line-of-sight (NLOS), point-to-multi-point wireless backhaul solutions are emerging. These solutions involve deploying a central “hub”node along with “end” nodes at the pico/micro cell sites. The end nodes would typically be all-outdoorunits deployed atop a pole alongside the pico-cell. The central hub would be located ideally at anexisting macro-cell tower or other site where high-speed backhaul is available.These wireless solutions are easily deployed and will work well in dense urban areas where LOSconditions are not always available.
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