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A Brief Survey of Radio Access Network

Backhaul Evolution: Part II
Humair Raza, Juniper Networks

ABSTRACT made within the last five years on the specifica-

tion of the next RAN technology based on 4G
In part I of this article we presented the design requirements from the International Telecommu-
alternatives, issues, and challenges for designing nication Union (ITU). Therefore, in this article
backhaul for 2G (GSM, CDMA) and 3G (UMTS, we not only cover the evolution of RAN backhaul
CDMA2000) radio access networks (RANs). Part to address current Long Term Evolution (LTE)
II extends the survey of backhaul technologies to requirements, but also preview the impact of
address LTE-based RANs. We present various upcoming 4G RAN on LTE backhaul.
alternatives to deal with the specific require- In addition to flat IP architecture, EPS impos-
ments imposed by Evolved Packet System archi- es a number of additional requirements on the
tecture on the backhaul design. In particular, we backhaul, such as introduction of the X2 inter-
address handling of the X2 interface, network face, distribution of frequency and phase syn-
security through IPSec, distribution of frequency chronization within RAN, enhanced network
and phase synchronization, the impact of small security through IPSec, and end-to-end quality
cell design, self-organizing networks, and end- of service (QoS) management through exposing
end QoS management within backhaul. We also the QoS class indicator (QCI) to the transport
present a brief overview of active debates with network, to name a few. Some of these require-
respect to some of these design options as open ments become critical when both data and voice
issues, in particular the impact of LTE-Advanced services are supported over EPS. Since the
requirements on LTE backhaul design. majority of operators plan to introduce LTE ini-
tially for supporting data services, these require-
INTRODUCTION ments may be introduced in phases based on the
method and timing of introduction of voice ser-
About five years ago, when the first part of this vices through the EPS.
article was written, there were predictions about In this article the discussion of the backhaul
expected growth in data demand based on evolution is with respect to Third Generation
advancement in RAN technologies such as High Partnership Project (3GPP) standards; where
Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and 1xEvolution- applicable, we highlight the differences in 3GPP2
Data Optimized (EV-DO). Even though that standards-based evolution. Readers are encour-
wave of mobile infrastructure investment aged to refer to part I of this article for salient
enabled the supply side, the true growth has only differences between 3GPP and 3GPP2 based
recently begun with the complementary demand backhaul [1]. In the subsequent discussion we
side enhancements through widespread adoption use the term EPS to refer to both LTE and EPC;
of smart-phones, tablets, and various other the context makes it clear if the reference is with
mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Once both sup- respect to RAN or a core aspect of EPS.
ply and demand sides of the mobile data equa- The article is organized as follows. We intro-
tion are in place, there is little doubt left that duce the reference architecture for LTE RAN
“the age of mobile data is upon us.” Hence, the backhaul design. This is followed by the discus-
timing is right to review some leftover aspects of sion of specific requirements related to LTE and
radio access network (RAN) backhaul technolo- the ways to address these requirements within
gies enabling a transformation from the voice- the backhaul. The open issues and a brief discus-
centric to the data centric mobile world. sion on the impact of LTE-Advanced require-
In Part I of this article we surveyed backhaul ments on the backhaul design are covered. The
technologies to address migration from second to article ends with a summary of LTE backhaul
third generation (2G to 3G) RAN technologies in design options.
details. However, at the time of writing of Part I,
some aspects of the Evolved Packet System (EPS)
architecture were not fully specified; hence, we REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE FOR
briefly introduced the implication of flat IP archi-
tecture on RAN backhaul design without dealing
This article was submitted with the specific design issues of EPS architec- In part I of this article we discussed the back-
in May 2011, when the ture. Furthermore, as expected from the stan- haul reference architecture applicable to 2G and
author was at Tellabs. dards point of view, significant progress has been 3G RAN technologies. In this section we extend

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Radio access network (RAN) Evolved packet core (EPC) The choice between
integrated or overlay
UTRAN Aggregation Edge router backhaul network
design is typically a
business decision
Iub IuCs MME
MSC S1-MME driven by a number
X2 Owned or Owned or
leased leased S1-u S-GW of factors including,
transport transport EPC but not limited to,
network network
IuPs the existing technol-
S1-u/ IuCs
eNb S1-MME IuPs ogy investments in
the backhaul infra-
structure and the
Cell site Hub site EPC site
penetration of LTE
relative to the previ-
Figure 1. LTE RAN backhaul reference architecture.
ous generation RATs.

the same reference architecture for LTE back- Overlay backhaul network design: In this case
haul design. Since EPS architecture is designed the LTE backhaul network is designed as an
to provide interworking with a number of radio overlay on top of the existing backhaul network
access technologies (RATs) [2], we have includ- for 3G/2G RATs. The LTE backhaul overlay can
ed UMTS terrestrial RAN (UTRAN) alongside be either Ethernet or IP/MPLS based; however,
enhanced UTRAN (eUTRAN) for highlighting to avoid repetition, only an operator owned Eth-
the most common case for interworking in the ernet based option is shown in Fig. 2b. To fur-
reference architecture shown in Fig. 1. ther differentiate this architecture from option
The salient points of the reference architec- (a), the hub and EPC site backhaul devices are
ture shown in Fig. 1 have already been discussed shown as a packet optical transport system
in part I of this article [1]; hence, in the current (POTS) providing optical transport network
article we focus only on the differentiating fea- (OTN) or synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH)
tures to satisfy LTE requirements. From the based transport services to the Ethernet switches
backhaul design perspective one of the distin- placed at the cell and/or hub sites. In this case
guishing features of EPS is support for flat IP the non-LTE overlay can be based on any of the
architecture. Alongside adoption of open IP technology options discussed in part I of the
interfaces, Ethernet has become the de facto article.
layer 2 technology for mobile RAN and core The choice between integrated or overlay
equipment. This is also true for recently backhaul network design is typically a business
deployed 3G infrastructure, such as HSPA, but decision driven by a number of factors including,
not for the previous generation of 3G radio but not limited to, the existing technology invest-
technologies, where the support for IP-based ments in the backhaul infrastructure and the
interfaces was optional. Therefore, it is expected penetration of LTE relative to the previous gen-
that for non-Greenfield LTE deployments, there eration RATs. Several other permutations of the
will still be asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) architectures shown in Fig. 2 are also being pro-
or even time-division multiplexing (TDM) based posed, for example, using IP virtual private net-
interface requirements for the backhaul trans- works (VPNs) instead of pseudo-wires shown in
port equipment until these older technologies Fig. 2a. For brevity these additional options are
are phased out. The backhaul network design for not discussed here.
LTE with support for multiple RATs with non- The discussion presented in part I of the arti-
IP-based interfaces can be handled in different cle to justify the deployment of backhaul devices
ways; two such options are shown in Fig. 2. at cell and hub sites is mostly true for EPS net-
Integrated backhaul network design: A com- works as well. However, in the following section
mon backhaul network is used to transport mul- the discussion of the LTE-specific backhaul
tiple payload types from the cell site to the EPC. requirement clarifies the relative significance of
As shown in Fig. 2a, the cell site router (CSR), each of these devices.
hub site router (HSR), and EPC router (EPCR)
all support IP/multiprotocol label switching
(MPLS) based interfaces to transport backhaul LTE SPECIFIC RAN
traffic from multigeneration RATs through
pseudo wires. The network facing interfaces on
these routers can all be Ethernet based. Howev- DESIGN OPTIONS
er, at least for CSR the client-side interfaces
may need a mixture of TDM, ATM, and Ether- As expected with every new generation of RAT,
net support. The owned or leased networks con- LTE has introduced several requirements for the
necting these routers can be Ethernet or IP backhaul network design, which are discussed
based. below.

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The LTE air interface Pseudo wire encapsulation

edge-edge (PWE3)
is designed to oper- BSC
Abis (TDM)
ate with varying BTS Owned or Owned or
Iub (ATM/TDM) leased leased S-GW
channel widths, Nb transport transport
network network
modulation schemes, S1 (IP/Eth)
and antenna config-
urations. Therefore
the computation of
the theoretical maxi- S-GW
mum downlink rate Ethernet
switch POTS POTS
is dependent on the
actual design config- (b)

uration used in a Figure 2. a) Integrated; b) Ethernet overlay transport options for LTE backhaul.
given network.
TOTAL BANDWIDTH REQUIREMENT AT THE minimize the network cost. In such a model the
CELL SITE end-to-end QoS support, through DiffServ or
similar techniques, becomes a necessity to satisfy
The LTE air interface is designed to operate the requirements of real-time application and is
with varying channel widths, modulation discussed later.
schemes, and antenna configurations. Therefore,
the computation of the theoretical maximum SUPPORT FOR X2 INTERFACE AND
downlink (DL) rate is dependent on the actual NETWORK DOMAIN SECURITY THROUGH IPSEC
design configuration used in a given network. To
compute the expected traffic load on a CSR, we For LTE, X2 interface was introduced to facili-
assume spectral efficiency of 8.64 b/s/Hz for 2 tate fast handoffs between groups of eNbs. How-
2 multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) DL ever, regarding X2 interface two separate but
[3]. For a 3 sector eNb operating with 10 MHz related issues are:
of channel width this translates into 259 Mb/s of • Is X2 needed?
peak rate. However, an increase in bits per sec- • If used, what is the optimal switching place
ond per hertz for a wireless technology makes for X2?
frequency reuse more difficult resulting in a Regarding the first issue it suffices to argue that
reduction in the system spectral efficiency. X2 will eventually be needed, especially when
Hence for backhaul design purposes 200 Mb/s of VoLTE gets widely deployed. Regarding the sec-
peak throughout from each eNb with the afore- ond issue, in Fig. 3 two options are shown for
mentioned specification is more realistic. The the X2 interface switching placement. The option
peak throughput from eNb is further combined in Fig. 3a assumes that a CSR is deployed at all
by the operator with various oversubscription of the eNb locations, hence switching or routing
parameters for the air as well as transport links of X2 can be handled at CSR. The option in Fig.
to drive the backhaul interface capacity required 3b assumes that no such CSR is deployed.
at each of CSR. Hence, X2 interface is handled at the aggrega-
Using wide channel widths and MIMO anten- tion router placed at the hub site, HSR. In our
na arrays, High Speed DL Packet Access + view, the optimal place to handle X2 interface is
(HSDPA+) is also reaching very similar spectral as close to the cell site as possible, as taking X2
efficiency as shown for LTE above. Therefore, all the way to the EPC router will introduce
for a 3 sector HSDPA+ Nb operating with 5 unnecessary delays and render the existence of
MHz of channel width the peak rate of 100 Mb/s X2 interface, which is to accommodate short
can be expected. For a radio network controller lived bursts of data, almost useless. Therefore, in
(RNC) with a given bearer capacity, an increase cases where CSR is not deployed or does not
in the data rate per Nb due to HSDPA upgrade have enough scale to handle the full mesh con-
may result in the reduction of number of Nbs nectivity requirement of X2, HSR becomes the
that can be managed per RNC. In this case the logical place to handle X2 interface.
operator may prefer to move these RNCs from The use of IPSec based encryption for S1 and
core to larger hub sites. The change in the poten- X2 interface is a subject of a very similar debate
tial location of RNC is shown in the reference as described for handling switching of X2 inter-
diagram of Fig. 1. face above. The support for IPSec can be manda-
By using the assumptions on the peak data tory or optional depending on whether the S1
rate per cell site given above, HSR and EPCR, and X2 interfaces are transported through un-
each aggregating traffic from 20 and 100 cell trusted or trusted domains. Two options for sup-
sites, respectively, may need to handle peak data porting IPSec are shown in Figs. 3a and 3b. If a
rates of 6 Gb/s and 30 Gb/s, respectively. It is CSR is collocated at the cell site, it is possible to
expected, however, that most of the traffic will initiate IPSec tunnels from the CSR instead of
be of non-rea-time nature where oversubscribed eNb, as shown in Fig. 3a. If CSR is not available,
design for backhaul transport can be used to IPSec tunnels will originate from eNb, as shown

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Security GW Historically 3GPP

S1-u/ standard based RATs
SeGW S1-MME SeGW have mandated fre-
S1-u/ quency synchroniza-
tion between base
HSR HSR stations and RNCs
Trusted domain for for correct operation
eNb CSR IPSec initiated Trusted domain for backhaul to EPC
from CSR backhaul to EPC of RANs. However,
IPSec initiated
(a) (b) from eNb with LTE there is also
a need for support-
Figure 3. Options for handling X2 interface and IPSec termination within backhaul: .
ing phase/time-of-
day synchronization
in Fig. 3b. The IPSec tunnel termination for S1 common technology options talked about in the for some specific
and X2 interfaces can be performed at a number industry are Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) scenarios.
of points along the backhaul or the EPC itself. based on the ITU standard G.8261 and Precision
An appropriate place to perform this function is Time Protocol (PTP) based on IEEE standard
at the demarcation between the trusted and un- 1588v2. It is beyond the scope of this article to
trusted domains for the backhaul. Since a large discuss the details of each of these options.
number of mobile operators have deployed or However, a general synopsis of these two proto-
are planning to deploy their own transport infra- cols is given below.
structure between hub and EPC sites, without Synchronous Ethernet distributes the fre-
loss of generality it can be assumed that the quency synchronization information through a
trusted domain for the backhaul starts at the physical Ethernet interface. It is considered sim-
HSR location. Based on these considerations, in ple to implement with minimal additional hard-
Figs. 3a and 3b, an IPSec security gateway ware support. However, the drawbacks are that
(SeGW) is shown to be deployed at the HSR it does not provide phase synchronization and
location. requires that each node in the network should
It should be noted that even though the dis- be SyncE aware with direct SyncE physical con-
cussion above, and the rest of the article, is with nectivity between adjacent nodes, implying sig-
respect to the nomenclature of the IP/MPLS nificant upgrade investment.
based backhaul architecture shown in Fig. 2a, Precision Time Protocol distributes the fre-
the same discussion applies to the Ethernet quency and phase synchronization through pack-
overlay architecture shown in Fig. 2b as well. et-based transport between PTP-aware nodes
and is not dependent on the underlying physical
DISTRIBUTION OF FREQUENCY AND layer. The advantages are:
PHASE SYNCHRONIZATION • Support for frequency, phase, and time-of-
day synchronization
Historically 3GPP standards-based RATs have • No requirement to be implemented across
mandated frequency synchronization between the whole network
base stations and RNCs for correct operation of The disadvantages are:
RANs. However, with LTE there is also a need • It requires specific hardware for timing
for supporting phase/time-of-day synchronization measurements.
for some specific scenarios, such as: • The synchronization performance is depen-
• When LTE is operated in time-division dent on the design of the underlying physi-
duplex (TDD) mode cal network.
• When multi-user MIMO is enabled in FDD It is difficult to argue that only one of these
mode protocols can satisfy the varying synchronization
• When multimedia broadcast and multicast needs of the continuously evolving backhaul net-
service over single frequency network works. Based on this assumption a hybrid syn-
(MBSFN) is deployed [4] chronization scheme is shown in Fig. 4 that
Depending on the plans of an operator to sup- highlights various options at the disposal of a
port these specific scenarios, phase synchroniza- backhaul planner. For option (a), the HSR acts
tion can be considered either mandatory or as a PTP slave and distributes the frequency syn-
optional. chronization through SyncE for the physically
When backhaul networks were based on connected CSR and eNb. For options (b)–(d),
TDM circuits over synchronous optical net- the HSR acts as a PTP router, passing the PTP
work/synchronous digital hierarchy (SONET/ messages to the respective slave nodes using IP
SDH) networks, this synchronization was built unicast forwarding. For option (b) the CSR acts
into the underlying transport layer. However, as a PTP slave and passes the synchronization
migration to packet-based transport technologies information through SyncE to an Ethernet con-
such as Ethernet is creating a need for a dedicat- nected eNb. Option (c) is similar to (b) with the
ed mechanism to carry this synchronization assumption that the eNb is connected to a CSR
information from the reference time source to through TDM circuits. Hence, the synchroniza-
the base stations. In this regard the two most tion from CSR to eNb is achieved over the TDM

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One of the key

drivers for LTE design SyncE
was the reduction in PTP-master
Option (a)
cost and complexity SyncE

of RAN. Since the S Owned or L

Owned or S M
leased leased
operational cost is SyncE transport S1-u
Option (b) CSR transport
network network
typically a significant S-GW
portion of the total PTP-router
cost, the concept of MME
SON was introduced SyncE
Option (c) TDM
to minimize PTP-slave
the operational Option (d)
cost of RAN.
Figure 4. Frequency and phase synchronization distribution within backhaul.

domain. Finall,y option (d) assumes that eNb is ated with the small cell design, non-line-of-sight
itself PTP aware and can act as a slave to receive (NLOS) wireless backhaul technologies, such as
both the frequency and phase synchronization TDD-LTE and WiFi, will be more suited than
information. The operator can utilize some or all the conventional LOS wireless backhaul tech-
of these options in various parts of the network nologies.
based on capabilities of equipment deployed at
the hub and cell sites. SELF-ORGANIZING NETWORK
In addition to SyncE and PTP, the Global One of the key drivers for LTE design was the
Positioning System (GPS) also provides robust reduction in cost and complexity of RANs. Since
frequency as well as time/phase synchronization. the operational cost is typically a significant por-
In this regard, the operators in the process of tion of the total cost, the concept of the self-
migration to LTE based on existing 3GPP2 infra- organizing network (SON) was introduced to
structure have an advantage as code-division minimize the operational cost of RANs. The
multiple access (CDMA) RANs have historically proposed use cases within 3GPP and the Next
been synchronized with the help of GPS Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) Alliance
receivers at the cell site. Therefore, the existing cover a wide range of categories including plan-
GPS infrastructure can be utilized or enhanced ning, deployment, self-configuration, self-opti-
to satisfy the frequency, phase/time synchroniza- mization, fault management, and so on [5]. It is
tion of LTE RANs. quite likely that the operator may adopt SON
through a phased approach, where initially the
SMALL CELL DESIGN use cases are supported in manual or semi-auto-
The argument for small cell design within LTE mated mode. However, once the operator confi-
architecture is fueled by two observations: dence builds on the processes and algorithms
• Aggressive data demand growth assump- used in the manual mode, the self-reconfigura-
tions tion and self-optimization can be turned on.
• Limited spectral efficiency enabled by LTE For the case where the operator has decided
over existing 3G RATs to deploy SON capabilities to automate the
Hence, the desired coverage and capacity configuration and optimization of a RAN, it
requirements may eventually drive operators to makes a lot of sense to expect the same capa-
deploy micro and picocellular nodes to augment bility from the underlying transport. One can
their planned macrocellular footprint for LTE. argue that the advantage of self-configuration
Since the micro and pico nodes will be deployed and optimization of radio parameters alone can
in large quantities at unconventional locations, only result in a partial reduction in the operat-
the backhaul design for the small cell architec- ing cost if these reconfigurations result in
ture needs special attention to minimize the cost changes at the transport layer that have to be
and operational complexity of such a network. enacted through conventional manual process-
There are several options for providing the back- es. Hence, the assumption that the use of a
haul for small nodes (e.g., wired broadband, SON at the radio layer will eventually require
wireless, and fiber-based transport services). the use of similar capabilities within the back-
Since some of the micro/pico nodes will be pole haul transport is not far from reality. The con-
or strand mounted, where fiber access may be cept of joint self-configuration of radio and
limited, fixed broadband such as commercial sig- transport layers is shown in Fig. 5. This feature
ital subscriber line (DSL) service may be utilized would require the SON-enabled backhaul to
to backhaul traffic to the EPC. directly interface with the SON deployed for
At places where wired broadband is not avail- the radio layer. Therefore, any changes during
able, wireless backhaul technologies can be used radio layer reconfiguration that require corre-
to transport traffic back to a hub site. For sponding changes within backhaul can be acted
addressing the size and cost requirements associ- on autonomously.

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One of the significant enhancements introduced
within EPS architecture is the simplification of
the QoS model. The simplified QoS model con-
sists of the negotiated values for QCI and alloca-
tion retention priority (ARP). During EPS SON based
bearer setup, based on the application require- eUTRAN
ments, the specific QoS value is negotiated
between UE and P-GW. The 3GPP Rel 8 stan- Addition of new cell Changes introduced through
results in neighbor radio layer reconfiguration
dard specifies up to nine values for QCI. These list updates
standardized QCIs have well defined QoS are autonomously reflected
within backhaul domain
attributes, such as priority, packet delay, and
packet loss, so that consistent QoS can be guar- SON enabled
anteed in a multivendor environment. During backhaul
periods of congestion, the ARP value is used by
the network to allow or block certain bearers Transport links adjusted to
reflect neighbor list updates
during setup or modification. EPS supports 15 HSR
values for ARP compared to three values pro-
vided in 2G/3G networks. Figure 5. Coordination of SON feature within radio and backhaul domains.
One of the benefits of the simplified QoS
model within EPS is the straightforward map-
ping of the negotiated QCI values to the trans- hauled through wired broadband service at
port layer. Therefore, as a part of EPS bearer homes or small offices
management, P-GW and eNb can map the QCI Category 2: The mobile core is distributed so
values to respective DiffServ code points that the Internet bound traffic can be offloaded
(DSCPs) within IP headers and p-bits within the closer to the RAN. Various techniques in this
virtual LAN (VLAN) tag of Ethernet frames for category enable Internet traffic offload through:
downlink and uplink traffic, respectively. The • H(e)Nb using Network Address Translation
use of DSCP or p-bits marking allows consistent (NAT) — applicable to 3G/LTE femto net-
QoS treatment for the user application at the works
bearer as well as the transport layer of the archi- • Traffic offload function (TOF) at IuPS —
tecture options shown in Figs. 2a and 2b, respec- applicable to 3G macro networks
tively. In addition to bearer level QoS • Local PDN GW selection — applicable to
management, EPS also defines service level QoS LTE macro networks
management that operates on individual flows These options are discussed in the 3GPP specifi-
within each EPS bearer. Such QoS management cation on Selected IP Traffic Offload (SIPTO)
is defined as a part of policy and charging con- [6].
trol (PCC) architecture, and its impact on back- The main difference between these two cate-
haul design is discussed later. gories is that in the first category the offloaded
traffic is still backhauled to the centralized core
network, whereas in the second category an
OPEN ISSUES Internet breakout point is created closer to the
A number of design options to address LTE RAN so that the impacted traffic is not required
backhaul requirements have been discussed in to be carried back to the core network. The
the previous section. However, some require- choice of a particular offload technique to use is
ments and their associated design options are usually driven by technical as well as commercial
still being debated within the industry and stan- merits in a given deployment scenario.
dards forums. We provide a brief overview of
some of these debated issues in the following. COLLAPSED BACKHAUL AND GW ELEMENTS
The adoption of flat IP architecture has resulted
DATA OFFLOAD in a number of simplifications for EPS. One of
The widespread adoption of smart phones the side effects of using open IP interfaces on
has resulted in a tremendous growth in mobile backhaul transport, and the S/P-GW is the possi-
web browsing and various Internet applications. ble consolidation of these functional entities. A
Therefore, the operators are taking measures to prime candidate for this consolidation is EPCR
minimize the cost of transport and expensive and SAE-GW (combination of S and P-GW).
packet core resources by deploying various forms The argument for this approach is the obvious
of data (Internet) offload schemes. There are reduction in equipment cost, as a number of
two broad categories of data offload techniques: functional blocks can be shared in a collapsed
Category 1: A cheaper alternative is used to product. The elimination of duplicate interfaces
backhaul traffic to a centralized mobile core. also results in nontrivial cost savings. The argu-
Some of the techniques in this category are: ments against this approach are the suboptimal
• DSL backhaul at the cell site: for details performance of the collapsed product due to
please see part I of the article [1] increased complexity and the potential violation
• WiFi offload: WiFi hotspots leveraged for of operational demarcation between groups
preventing capacity exhaust in the macro- managing the backhaul transport and mobile
cellular network packet core elements. In general, the consolida-
• Home(e)Node b offload: Also known as tion of network elements have to be analyzed on
femto offload, where mobile traffic is back- a case by case basis, if feasible in a given situa-

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As backhaul net- Web and

video cache Backhaul policy based on the PCRF
works are being current state of the network

planned and Gx
Owned or Owned or
deployed for LTE, the leased leased S1 S5/8
transport transport
standards are being network network
finalized for the 4G HSR EPCR

mobile access tech- Control plane for BW

and QoS management
nologies. To satisfy
the ITU mandated Figure 6. Policy based backhaul traffic management.
requirement for
IMT-Advanced, 3GPP tion, it may lead to reduction of total cost of nent question for the present discussion is how
ownership of the network. many of the LTE-Advanced requirements should
has proposed influence the LTE backhaul design. This ques-
LTE-Advanced as a CONGESTION MANAGEMENT WITHIN BACKHAUL tion can be answered by the observation that
candidate option. there is always a trade-off involved in minimizing
As discussed earlier, LTE has introduced the cost and future proofing a given network
major simplification in RAN architecture design. Therefore, based on the timeframe of
including containment of radio related func- deployment of LTE, an operator may decide to
tions within eNb and the use of open IP inter- incorporate some or all of the requirements
faces. Therefore, the S1 interface between from LTE-Advanced.
eNb and S-GW carries each subscriber’s data From a backhaul design perspective, the
within individual GPRS Tunneling Protocol salient features of the LTE-Advanced are:
(GTP) tunnels. This simplification is resulting • Peak throughput of 1 Gb/s on downlink and
in the possibility of managing the backhaul 500 Mb/s on uplink
BW allocation and QoS at the subscriber flow • Coordinated multipoint (CoMP) transmis-
level. The business models to make such an sion and reception
intensive BW and QoS management within • L3 relays, also known as self-backhauling
backhaul viable are beyond the scope of this relays
article. However, the technology options are The increase in peak throughput for LTE-
available to implement this within backhaul Advanced will influence the size and density of
transport elements at a time when such a man- the backhaul devices deployed at cell, hub, and
agement becomes commercially feasible. The EPC sites, and can be handled by the technolo-
most obvious trade-off, to decide on imple- gy options presented in this article for LTE
mentation of this feature within backhaul, is backhaul (Figs. 2a and 2b). However, the use
between operational complexity and quality of of CoMP and layer 3 relays will introduce
end-user experience. changes to RAN topology with associated
An implementation of a subscriber policy changes to the backhaul design, identified in
based backhaul traffic management scheme is Fig. 7. In comparison to the distributed anten-
shown in Fig. 6. It is assumed that the backhaul na system deployed for 2G/3G networks, the
policy, based on the current state of the network use of CoMP enables an architecture where
and the user subscription information, gets the baseband processor (BBP) can be separat-
pushed to the head-end backhaul node, EPCR. ed from a collection of dispersed antennas. As
This policy information is utilized by EPCR to shown in Fig. 7a, the backhaul design from
allocate bandwidth and install local QoS param- eNB-BBP to the EPC remains the same; how-
eters. The desired subscriber level bandwidth ever, additional backhaul links between BBP
and QoS management rules are then propagated and antennas are required. Based on the dis-
to the other backhaul nodes using a control tance and data rates involved, radio over fiber
plane. The architecture in Fig. 6 also indicates (RoF) or similar technologies can be used to
the possibility of introducing localized video and achieve the objective.
web caches adjacent to cell or hub sites to pro- The concept of layer 3 relay is introduced as
vide a repository for the commonly accessed a part of the LTE-Advanced specification [8]. In
content. Utilizing granular bandwidth allocation contrast to the passive repeaters used in current
and intelligent caching within backhaul may alle- mobile networks, layer 3 relay works in conjunc-
viate network congestion during busy hours and tion with the donor eNb (DeNb) only when
may result in the increased quality of user expe- needed to enhance the data rate available at the
rience at the cost of additional complexity within terminal. From the backhaul perspective, the
backhaul. impact of L3 relays is shown in Fig. 7b. These
relays operate on a self backhauling principle,
IMPACT OF LTE-ADVANCED REQUIREMENTS where the LTE radio will be used to backhaul
As backhaul networks are being planned and traffic between the relay and the DeNb. This
deployed for LTE, the standards are being final- approach has an advantage in that it does not
ized for 4G mobile access technologies. To satis- require any external wired or wireless means for
fy the ITU mandated requirement for backhaul. The main disadvantage is the con-
IMT-Advanced, 3GPP has proposed LTE- sumption of scarce spectrum resources for self-
Advanced as a candidate option [7]. One perti- backhaul links.

176 IEEE Communications Magazine • May 2013

RAZA LAYOUT_Layout 1 4/30/13 11:42 AM Page 177

It is quite likely
RLC RLC RLC that the use of
MAC MAC MAC SONs for self
RoF CSR configuration and
optimization of
RANs will require
L3 relay
Baseband DeNb CSR associated support
Baseband backhaul within the backhaul
Self backhaul
(a) (b) network to achieve
the desired
Figure 7. a) Coordinated multi-point backhaul; and b) L3 (self backhauling) relays. operational cost
[1] H. Raza, “A Brief Survey of Radio Access Network Back-
In this article we have reviewed a number of haul Evolution: Part I,” IEEE Commun. Mag., vol. 49,
no. 6, June 2011, pp. 164–71.
LTE requirements and their impact on the back- [2] M. Olsson et al., “SAE and the Evolved Packet Core:
haul networks. We have presented two represen- Driving the Mobile Broadband Revolution,” 2009.
tative design options to handle LTE backhaul: [3] E. Dahlman et al., “3G Evolution: HSPA and LTE for
an IP/MPLS-based option to provide backhaul Mobile Broadband,” 2008.
[4] 3GPP TS36.300, “E-UTRA and E-UTRAN; Overall Descrip-
for LTE, and a multi-generation RATs and tion, Stage 2.”
POTS based Ethernet overlay for LTE backhaul [5] 3GPP TS32.500, “Self Organizing Networks (SON), Con-
only. For a typical deployment option with no or cepts and Requirements.”
limited capacity CSR, we have identified the hub [6] 3GPP TR 23.829, “Local IP Access and Selected IP Traffic
site as a logical place to provide switching for [7] 3GPP TR 36.913, “Requirements for Further Enhance-
the X2 interface as well as for hosting an IPSec ments for E-UTRA (LTE-Advanced).”
SeGW. It is shown that a hybrid scheme, consist- [8] 3GPP TR36.806, “Relay Architecture for E-UTRA (LTE-
ing of SyncE, PTP as well as TDM components, Advanced).”
is needed to address the frequency and phase/
time synchronization requirement in a practical BIOGRAPHY
deployment scenario. It is quite likely that the H UMAIR R AZA ( is a member of the
use of SONs for self configuration and optimiza- advanced technology team at Juniper Networks. He recent-
tion of RANs will require associated support ly worked at Tellabs as a member of the wireless technolo-
gy and strategy group, where he was responsible for
within the backhaul network to achieve the evaluation of existing and emerging technologies for possi-
desired operational cost savings. The introduc- ble integration into Tellabs’ product portfolio. Previously he
tion of data offload, collapsing of backhaul and was a system architect at several early stage startups focus-
GW elements, and subscriber-level bandwidth ing on disruptive networking technologies, and has also
held various positions in the GSM and Optical Networking
management within the backhaul needs further Groups at Nortel Networks. His research interests include
investigation to determine their feasibility. It is design and performance analysis of distributed systems
too early to ascertain the full impact of LTE- and networks. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical
Advanced requirements; however, the use of the engineering from the University of Southern California, Los
CoMP feature and layer 3 relays will require
nontrivial design changes to the LTE backhaul

IEEE Communications Magazine • May 2013 177