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White Paper

Technology Synergies for Small-Cell Backhaul in 4G Networks
pdf (991kb)
Executive Summary

The evolution of 4G networks will initially be realized through the LTE transformation of macro cells, and ultimately through the deployment of small cells that will increase the size and capacity of the network. A significant advantage of the small-cell approach is the low cost of ownership. The associated challenge is to select an appropriate backhaul solution that would fit the small-cell concept, technologically and economically wise.

This paper examines the available state-of-the-art technologies for small-cell backhaul in the 2 GHz and 80 GHz frequencies, namely Point-to-Point (PtP) and Point-to-Multi Point (PtMP). While every technology exhibits distinct advantages, as well as some constraints, currently, none of them can be considered as generalized solution.

However, an optimum solution for the small cells can be achieved by leveraging synergies between two best-of-breed technologies: PtMP and E-Band PtP. Such a synergy could overcome inherent constraints, with respect to LOS condition availability, and appropriate range / capacity performance, and at the same time achieve a very low cost of ownership. The cost-per-bit-per-link, as well as the spectrum licensing fees, could be quite reduced compared to the costs associated with the macro-cell backhaul technologies. This is especially significant considering the fact that a deployment of 2 to 5 small cells - per macro-cell - is expected in the upcoming years, scaling up the size and expenses of the network.

In this context, Intracom Telecom is a vendor that can offer a wide variety of state-of-the-art backhaul technologies, but most importantly, can leverage technology synergies to establish an optimum solution for small-cell backhaul. Since 2009, Intracom Telecom has already adopted and implemented technology and equipment synergy strategies by means of high equipment integration and a unified management system.

This paper is organized as follows:

  • Section 2 outlines the evolution path of 4G networks.
  • Section 3 discusses the significant growth in the access domain that is expected with the introduction of small cells. Backhaul infrastructure owners will be able to provide "backhaul as a service".
  • Section 4 introduces the "unified macro-cell / small-cell concept", which provides an important perspective of how small-cell backhaul systems can be integrated into the existing infrastructure.
  • Section 5 provides a comparison of the candidate small-cell backhaul technologies.
  • Section 6 proposes a synergistic solution among the best candidate technologies to choose from. Synergies can leverage the advantages of technologies and alleviate any constraints, leading to efficient networks.
  • Section 7 introduces the "converged backhaul solution" concept, which is referred to small-cell backhaul as an extension of the existing infrastructure.
  • Section 8 concludes this paper.
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