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Small Cells, DAS & Het-Nets

U.S. Front/Backhaul Market Forecast, 2014-2019: Connecting the RAN to Everything Else

As mobile operators have deployed LTE over the past few years, so the need for reliable, scalable and cost effective fronthaul and backhaul has increased. The high-bandwidth demands of LTE, and now LTE-Advanced, have driven the mobile industry to predominantly use fiber for the important connections from the cells to the rest of the network. And with 5G networks starting to be implemented toward the end of the decade, the demands on backhaul will increase yet again.

While the macrocells have been upgraded (and will continue to be), small cells and heterogeneous networks are a common topic of discussion in the wireless and mobile industry. Because small cell deployments can and will vary so greatly in location, no single backhaul solution is best for them. While fiber has been the preferred solution for small cells to date, wireless backhaul solutions offer many advantages.

The main advantages for wired backhaul, fiber in particular, are: high throughput, low latency and substantial throughput scaling over time. But there are two significant challenges with fiber: it is not always where it is needed and it is relatively expensive to deploy. However, once fiber is in place, the incremental cost of adding new capacity is relatively low. On the other hand, the main advantages for wireless backhaul, as compared to fiber, are: lower cost, faster (and easier) deployment and sufficiently scalable throughput (depending on the use case and technology chosen).

This market study discusses the wireless and wired front/backhaul technologies available and the main market drivers for each type of backhaul to support macrocells and small cells. It also presents iGR’s U.S. forecast for wired and wireless front/backhaul to support the radio access network (RAN) over the next five years.


Key Questions Answered

  • What is the anticipated growth of front/backhaul in the U.S. through 2019?
  • What is the difference between fronthaul and backhaul?
  • How is the type of front/backhaul split between fiber, wireless and copper?
  • What is the forecast for backhaul to support outdoor small cell deployments?
  • What are the major concerns of the mobile operators with regard to each type of backhaul and how can these concerns be addressed?
  • What is the role for wired and wireless front/backhaul in small cell architectures?
  • How is wired and wireless front/backhaul deployed?
  • How do PTP, PMP, NLOS, millimeter wave and traditional microwave solutions differ?
  • How do fiber (point to point and passive), VDSL2 and coaxial (hybrid fiber coax) differ?
  • How does wireless backhaul compare to fiber backhaul?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators, particularly those servicing the U.S. market
  • Mobile backhaul providers, including telcos and cable MSOs
  • Wired and wireless backhaul vendors and solution providers
  • Mobile OEMs, particularly those servicing the U.S. market
  • Wired and wireless infrastructure vendors, particularly those servicing the U.S. market
  • Financial analysts and investors.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
    • First choice is Fiber, but wireless has a place
    • Backhaul concerns and issues
    • U.S. Cell Backhaul Forecast
  • Methodology
  • Basic Mobile Operator Network Architecture
    • Location
    • Key Backhaul Requirements
  • Impact of LTE and 5G on Backhaul Requirements
  • Wired and Wireless Backhaul Options
    • Copper
    • xDSL
    • Coaxial cable / HFC
    • Fiber
    • Fiber Deployment Options
    • PON and PTP
    • Carrier Ethernet
    • Wireless Backhaul
    • Typical Mobile Backhaul Topologies
    • Point to Point (PTP)
    • Point to Multipoint (PMP)
    • Non Line-of-Sight (NLOS) vs. Line-of-Sight (LOS)
    • Licensed vs. Unlicensed Wireless
    • Briefly: Millimeter Wave versus Microwave
  • The Case for and Against Wireless Backhaul
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Summary
  • U.S. Front/Backhaul Forecast
    • Major Assumptions
    • U.S. Cell Sites Deployed
    • Bandwidth Required
    • Macrocell Backhaul Forecast
    • Outdoor Small Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast
    • U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast
  • Wired Mobile Front/Backhaul Vendor Profiles
    • Accedian Networks
    • Actelis Networks
    • ADTRAN
    • ADVA Optical Networking
    • Alcatel-Lucent
    • Brocade Networks
    • Calix
    • Canoga Perkins
    • Celtro Communication Ltd.
    • Ciena
    • Cisco
    • CommScope
    • Coriant
    • Crown Castle
    • ECI Telecom
    • Ericsson
    • ExteNet Systems
    • Fibrolan
    • Fujitsu
    • GENBAND
    • Huawei
    • Infinera
    • IPITEK
    • Juniper Networks
    • Level 3 Communications
    • Lightower Fiber Networks
    • MRV Communications
    • NEC
    • Nokia Networks
    • Overture Networks
    • PalmettoNet, A Spirit Communications Company
    • Positron Access Solutions
    • RAD Data
    • SOLiD
    • TE Connectivity
    • Telco Systems
    • Time Warner Cable
    • Wilcon
    • Windstream Communications
    • Zayo
    • Zhone Technologies
    • ZTE Corporation
  • Wireless Mobile Front/Backhaul Vendor Profiles
    • Airspan Networks
    • Aviat Networks
    • BLiNQ Networks
    • BridgeWave Communications
    • Cambium Networks
    • Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited (CBNL)
    • CCS
    • Ceragon Networks
    • Cisco
    • DragonWave
    • E-Band Communications
    • EBlink
    • Ericsson
    • Exalt Wireless
    • Fastback Networks
    • Huawei
    • Intracom Telecom
    • LightPointe Wireless
    • MAX4G
    • NEC
    • Proxim Wireless
    • RADWIN
    • Siklu
    • SkyFiber
    • Sub10 Systems
    • Tarana Wireless
    • Vubiq Networks
    • ZTE Corporation
  • Definitions
    • General
    • Device Types
    • Services
    • Network Technology
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Benefits of Neutral-Host DAS
  • Table 1: U.S. Cells Deployed Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Table 2: U.S. Bandwidth to be delivered per month (TB), 2014-2019
  • Table 3: Average bandwidth to be delivered per cell per month (TB), 2014-2019
  • Table 4: U.S. Macrocell Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Table 5: U.S. Macrocell Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (%)
  • Table 6: U.S. Outdoor Small Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Table 7: U.S. Outdoor Small Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (%)
  • Table 8: U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Table 9: U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (%)

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: U.S. Cells Deployed Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Figure B: U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2013-2018
  • Figure C: U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2013-2018 (%)
  • Figure 1: Simple View of Backhaul and a Mobile Operator’s Network
  • Figure 2: Mobile Network Architecture with Fronthaul and Backhaul
  • Figure 3: Cell Backhaul Capabilities and Use Cases, Wired and Wireless
  • Figure 4: Simplified Example of an All Fiber PON
  • Figure 5: Simplified Example of a PTP Fiber Network
  • Figure 6: Wireless as a Mobile Backhaul Solution
  • Figure 7: Typical Mobile Backhaul Deployment Configurations
  • Figure 8: Possible Small Cell Backhaul Topology, Dense Urban
  • Figure 9: PTP Microwave Configuration
  • Figure 10: Typical PMP Configuration
  • Figure 11: Millimeter Wave vs. Traditional Microwave
  • Figure 12: U.S. Cells Deployed Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Figure 13: U.S. Bandwidth to be delivered per year (TB), 2014-2019
  • Figure 14: Average bandwidth to be delivered per cell per month (TB), 2014-2019
  • Figure 15: U.S. Macrocell Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Figure 16: U.S. Macrocell Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (%)
  • Figure 17: U.S. Outdoor Small Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (Log scale)
  • Figure 18: U.S. Outdoor Small Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (%)
  • Figure 19: U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019
  • Figure 20: U.S. Cell Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019 (%)

For additional information on the U.S. Front/Backhaul Forecast, 2014-2019: Connecting the RAN to Everything Else market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.