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Solving the Mobile Backhaul Challenge


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4G World Mobile Backhaul Summit. If you missed it in person, feel free to view it online.

Mark Casey, CFN Services, Incorporated
Mike Dodson, Utopian Wireless
Doug Smith, Digital Bridge
Dan Graf, Leap Wireless/Cricket Communications

If you have any questions please contact CFN Services at

Published in: Technology, Business
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Solving the Mobile Backhaul Challenge

  1. 1. Wireless Transport Network Optimization: Solving the 4G Backhaul Challenge This document is confidential and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed.
  2. 2. Solving the 4G Backhaul Challenge   Clearly 4G requires more fiber and microwave in the backhaul network   But how much, and how much of each?   Where and how do I get it cost effectively? ILECs, CLECs, MSOs, AAVs?   When and how much do I deploy?   Do I deploy as TDM or Ethernet?   The answer of course depends on your particular situation   How much bandwidth do I need today, next year, in 5 years?   Am I migrating an existing network or building out “greenfield?”   Do I have voice traffic considerations or is this purely broadband data?   Am I deploying high density urban sites or lower density in rural markets? This document is proprietary and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed. CFN Services 2
  3. 3. 4G Backhaul Rules of Thumb   The higher your bandwidth requirements the more fiber you’ll need   A 90% microwave architecture can safely support 50-100Mbs per site today   Increasing the ratio of fiber hubs will support increased capacities per site   At 50% microwave; 50% fiber capacities can grow to 200Mbs+ per site   Planning the RAN and Backhaul together reduces lifecycle costs   Planning the RAN sites with a view towards fiber availability is critical   Failure to plan appropriately leads to high fiber and thus backhaul costs   This holds true equally for incumbent and green-field providers   You can add more fiber to the Backhaul “diet” as the bandwidth grows   Ethernet is cheaper but packet over SONET (TDM) offers a smoother transition for existing networks with voice traffic migrating to 4G   Rural deployments are more costly than urban environments This document is proprietary and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed. CFN Services 3
  4. 4. Fiber Access for 4G Backhaul - Where Do I Get It?   ILECs and MSOs are aggressively building out the fiber infrastructure   Verizon (ILEC) will have fiber to 80%+ of all sites in region by 2012   AT&T (ILEC) has fiber deployed or planned to most high capacity sites   Time Warner, Comcast, COX, and other MSOs are adding cell sites to their existing (typically Ethernet) fiber networks   These alternatives will offer broad coverage, but uncertain lifecycle costs   CLECs, Utilities, and other Alternative Access Vendors   Over 200 non-ILEC/MSO fiber operators nationwide, over 500 when you count municipal fiber deployments   More limited fiber footprint than incumbents but better economics   Better opportunity to leverage ‘owners economics’ via dark fiber and/or shared build outs, thus providing more predictable lifecycle costs This document is proprietary and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed. CFN Services 4
  5. 5. Plan the RAN with a view toward fiber access for backhaul CFN Services FiberSource® Deployment Planning Platform This document is proprietary and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed. CFN Services 5
  6. 6. Initial RAN design with fiber hub sites pre-selected… CFN Services FiberSource® Deployment Planning Platform This document is proprietary and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed. CFN Services 6
  7. 7. …enables broad-based 4G coverage and lower lifecycle costs CFN Services FiberSource® Deployment Planning Platform This document is proprietary and is intended solely for the use and information of the client to whom it is addressed. CFN Services 7
  8. 8. 4G World Conference Mobile Backhaul Summit Panel Discussion Mike Dodson Utopian Wireless September 15th, 2009
  9. 9. Substantial 2.5 GHz Spectrum Portfolio •  License areas reach over 7.4 million people in 22 states. •  Focused on bringing WiMax mobile broadband services to rural, remote, and suburban markets. 9
  10. 10. Utopian’s Approach to Market Planning WiMax as the Technology Choice   True mobile internet, available TODAY with the momentum and developing ecosystem necessary to deliver high value products and solutions for our customers. RAN and Backhaul Considerations   Native Ethernet is the desired backhaul choice.   Must achieve owner’s economics to make business cases work.   Wireless backhaul, ring vs. hub architectures.   RAN designed to deliver targeted services and data rates over the designated footprint.   Sites selected not just on best RAN coverage, but also to satisfy backhaul needs. IP Core Considerations   Central vs distributed traffic aggregation, internet handoff.   Quality of Service tradeoffs.   Security, harmful content management considerations. Vendor & Services Partners   No time or funds available to “re-invent the wheel”.   Partners who can scale as required to achieve rural, remote, and suburban market business objectives are critical to success. 10
  11. 11. Utopian’s Broadband Landscape Suburban Markets   Roughly 80k pops and greater, higher population density supports a more efficient network   Significant spectrum depth   Competitive fixed and wireless incumbent providers   Attractive demographics, strong demand for wireless broadband services   Highly mobile usage Rural & Remote Markets   Limited or no broadband service (fixed or wireless)   Sparse population   Social and economic need for broadband services   Fixed and nomadic usage over mobility Challenges in both cases   Time to market   Minimize capital and operating expenses   Bandwidth is the commodity 11
  12. 12. Backhaul Challenges Wireless Backhaul   Delivers scalable bandwidth with owner’s economics.   Many options in terms of vendors, path length, capacity, licensed vs unlicensed, etc.   Licensing, site entitlements add time and cost to the deployment.   Good RAN sites won’t all be good microwave sites; microwave backhaul will drive higher candidate site fallout as compared to traditional wired backhaul. Traditional Leased Services   T-1s are commonly available from the LEC, even in underserved areas.   CLEC and Cable MSO native ethernet services may be great for on-net sites.   Special construction adds time, cost, and overall risk to the deployment.   Bandwidth for leased TDM or “Lit Fiber” services are “pay by the drink”; as bandwidth needs increase, so do operating costs. Dark Fiber   Great for on net sites and establishing fixed cost for nearly unlimited bandwidth.   Limited availability, higher cost, and rural market bandwidth long term needs likely rules out “dark fiber to the site” as a viable backhaul solution. 12
  13. 13. Solutions & How to Get There Source the Fiber First   Successful deployment requires a pool of on-net locations suitable for microwave hubs.   Dark fiber always the preference, provided the market (or groups of markets) can make the economics work.   Lit services or even TDM hubs can be viable, so long as the economics support the business case and time to market advantage offsets higher operating costs. IP Core Design Approach   Hybrid centralized / distributed architecture   Nodes selected based on access to fiber providers and the internet In-Market Microwave Backhaul   Hub and spoke vs ring architecture choice depends on the market.   Hub & spoke OK for smaller markets where the number of “spokes” are few.   For larger markets, ring offers many more choices for fiber aggregation points, more tolerant of site candidate fallout, and higher reliability. 13
  14. 14. CFN as a Key Services Partner Rural Broadband Stimulus Funding Opportunity   Federal Government’s Broadband Stimulus Funding Program administered by RUS and NTIA aims to deliver broadband services to unserved and underserved areas across the US.   Utopian Wireless developed a proprietary methodology for determining underserved areas in its licensed Geographic Service Areas (GSAs).   Utopian engaged it’s infrastructure vendor partner to collaborate in the development of RAN and Backhaul designs for each area as key elements of the application process.   Applications require project-specific details for complete end to end designs which demonstrate connectivity from the end user to the internet backbone. The Challenge: Integrate Underserved Area Designs with the IP Core   CFN supported Utopian’s efforts via it’s in-house expertise and tools including FiberSource.   From a list of over 140 target service areas, CFN was able to rapidly identify for each area the fiber providers, on-net locations, mileage and cost.   This data enabled Utopian to develop preliminary end to end designs for each of the area and produce very high quality funding applications fully compliant with the criteria set out by the agencies. 14
  15. 15. 4G World Backhaul Summit Doug Smith Chief Information Officer
  16. 16. Company Highlights 2nd Largest WiMAX Operator in the US Focus on smaller, more rural markets in the US Differentiated Product Offering Deep Spectrum Position Averaging 114 MHz Across Footprint Repeatable, Scalable Market Model Highly Capital Efficient Deployment Model National Partnership with Rural Telcos and Electric Cooperatives 16
  17. 17. Small Business MDUs Visitor-based network Schools NOC Single Family Fiber or Wireless Homes Internet Backhaul Military Housing First Mile Flexible, low-cost back office Middle Mile Last Mile •  Outsource/integrate: Low-cost, high-capacity backhaul New WiMAX technology to reach ‐  Arise (customer care) •  Regional fiber capacity end customer ‐  Aria (billing) •  Municipally-supported transport networks •  Underserved/exclusive markets ‐  TNI (order mgmt) •  Utility-owned fiber networks •  Self-provisioned, fast install •  Outsource overhead •  Portable  personal broadband •  Scalable – invest as you grow •  No one between DBC and its customers 17
  18. 18. Backhaul Best Practices •  DigitalBridge employs an array of backhaul solutions: - Fiber and microwave are most often deployed. •  Cost-efficiency is a primary driver in the selection process. •  Reliability determines the ultimate network solution. 18
  19. 19. Unique Challenges of Backhaul •  Operators have to think differently about backhaul solutions in context of 4G broadband delivery. •  Rural markets present unique challenges and backhaul requirements: –  High-capacity circuit backhaul solutions needed for 4G broadband delivery are not always present. 19
  20. 20. The Future of Backhaul Backhaul technology is evolving… –  Wireless point-to-point solutions are improving. –  Fiber solutions continue to be enhanced. –  Other creative in-band solutions are being developed. 20
  21. 21. LEAP Wireless Dan Graf 4G World Mobile Backhaul Summit Dan Graf Leap Wireless
  22. 22. Company Background •  Leap Wireless provides innovative, high-value wireless services to a fast-growing, young and ethnically diverse customer base through its subsidiary, Cricket Communications, Inc. •  Leap is primarily the company’s financial brand, used mostly with investment and industry audiences, not consumers. •  Leap is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “LEAP”. •  Leap is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. •  For more information, please visit 22 Confidential/Proprietary
  23. 23. Cricket Communications, Inc. •  Cricket Communications, Inc. is the operating subsidiary of Leap Wireless. •  Cricket is a simple, affordable, flat-rate wireless service offering unlimited usage with no long-term commitments or credit checks. •  Cricket offers customers access to a variety of the latest handsets and feature-rich mobile applications such as popular games, ringtones, ringback tones and wallpapers. •  Cricket’s phone service is available on a monthly pay-in-advance basis or daily with Cricket PAYGo, a traditional prepaid service for consumers who want unlimited services on a more flexible payment schedule. 23 Confidential/Proprietary
  24. 24. Cricket Communications, Inc. •  Cricket also offers an unlimited wireless internet service, Cricket Broadband. •  Cricket is designed to make wireless communications simple, affordable and worry-free. Predictability, simplicity and value are the foundations of our business. •  Cricket owns and operates its own high-quality, all-digital CDMA2000 1X and 1xEV-DO network that regularly ranks 1st or 2nd in overall market quality from independent tests. •  The company and its joint ventures now operate in 30 states and hold licenses for 35 of the top 50 U.S. markets. 24 Confidential/Proprietary
  25. 25. Current Challenges in Planning for 4G •  4G will require bandwidth that current TDM networks cannot provide economically. •  How do we cost effectively build and maintain 3G and 4G networks simultaneously. •  How do we provide seamless transition between 3G and 4G networks. •  Competition for last mile backhaul including alternative providers and technologies. •  Some alternate technologies are new and may not be ready for prime time. 25 Confidential/Proprietary
  26. 26. Best Practices in Planning for 4G •  Trials –  Feasibility testing of Ethernet and other technologies –  Integration of equipment with new technologies –  Training and knowledge base •  Partnering with vendors on solutions and trials. •  Backhaul RFQ – What’s available and where available. •  Create a by market Playbook that includes a set of solutions. •  Plan solutions based on what’s available and geographical topologies. 26 Confidential/Proprietary
  27. 27. Future Challenges •  How to manage current networks while migrating to 4G networks. •  Thinking IP and cost per bit. •  Maintain quality while reducing costs per MB. •  Reduce legacy TDM networks with least impact to customers. •  Overall challenge of migration to an all IP network. 27 Confidential/Proprietary