The popularity o smart phones and tablets, motivatedby the launch o the iPhone
(2007) and the iPad
(2010) have created a dramatic increase in mobile dataconsumption . The need to provide higher throughputsat the base station level to serve this demand hasconcerned operators, equipment vendors and industrywatchers about a possible bottleneck in the backhaulnetwork.The basis or this concern is that microwave technologywill not be able to provide sucient capacity, and thatonly ber is able to meet the capacity needs o 4G/LTEnetworks. This apprehension is being capitalized on bysome optical network providers who argue that berconnections are needed to provide gigabit levels at eachbase station. Although a gigabit connection in eachbase station is desirable, extremely high costs, slowdeployment and infexibility o ber optic networks preventthis rom being a viable option or operators who areCAPEX and OPEX constrained.Aviat Networks’ studies, based upon our early involvementin some o the largest LTE network deployments, showthat an average o 100 to 200 Mbps o backhaul capacityper LTE cell site is more than adequate , which is easilyachievable with current microwave technologies.At the short and medium term the spectrum situationis more consistent at LTE base station side, where theshortage o available spectrum, and the implementation omore spectrum ecient solutions will take considerableinvestment in time and capital . This situation is drivingNorth American operators to threaten price increases andservice caps i more allocations are not provided by theFCC  .In Europe, where operators have been slower to deployLTE, and are in many cases in early trials, operators mustconront a ragmented requency band arrangement aswell as the lack o availability o sucient spectrum, tomake their business models work .Although LTE network operators are demanding morespectrum allocations (especially in North America),there are some industry commentators that argue thatthe claimed spectrum shortage is largely exaggerated. These commentators argue that techniques areavailable to mitigate any potential shortage, such as theemployment o smarter antennas, the ofoad o mobiletrac to Wi-Fi, the use o small cells, and the deploymento new technologies such as agile radios, all o which canpotentially prevent any crisis .However, although these measures could provide relieto enable operators to keep up with increasing tracdemand, operators will need economic incentives andtime to study the easibility o these potential solutionsor eventual implementation. The mix o economic andtechnical aspects aced by operators and regulatorsmakes access to LTE spectrum an issue more complexthan the congestion on the backhaul spectrum side orurban environments.
BOOMING DEMAND DRIvESBOTTLENECK CONCERNSIS THERE A SPECTRUMSHORTAGE FOR LTE ACCESS?