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January 2010

From smart phones to superphones – are we heading for capacity meltdown?

The media frenzy spurred by the launch of Google’s Nexus One has begun. Reviews have quickly circulated, spanning technology blogs to mainstream media. Dubbed the new ‘superphone’ some critics accuse it of being ‘nothing but an Android clone of the iPhone’ while others consider the launch of Nexus One to be one of the great moments in tech history.

This long-awaited device runs on Google’s Android system and will gradually be rolled out across networks, starting with T-Mobile, to be followed shortly by Verizon in the US, and Vodafone in Europe. As Nexus One expands across networks, this ‘affordable’ alternative to Apple’s iPhone is set to hit the mainstream at high speed.

Nexus One: where the web meets the phone

Access to the latest apps along with voice recognition software, which allows the user to ‘speak’ their emails into the handset has fueled the media buzz. Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering at Google has called the Nexus One an exemplar of what’s possible on mobile phones through Android and said the name, meaning point of convergence, is “where the web meets the phone.”

“The Nexus One belongs in the emerging class of devices which we call ‘superphones’ with the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset making it as powerful as your laptop computer of three to four years ago.”

– Andy Rubin, Google

It now sits firmly with the operators to ensure that the capacity demand does not exceed what they are capable of delivering.

Cell sites struggling due to weak backhaul

Although some cell sites are managing increased traffic rates comfortably, others are struggling due to weak backhaul links. City centre cell sites can be particularly strained during peak times and as data-hungry devices become commonplace, the struggling cell sites are heading for meltdown. As mobile operators consider their backhaul options to support these new devices and to prepare for new technologies like LTE, the perfect solution is increasingly elusive.

What is missing from the roadmap for many operators, is a plausible short term strategy that links seamlessly with their long term goals. In their latest report, Infonetics discuss the need for enhanced mobile backhaul bandwidth, suggesting the ‘mobile broadband boom’ is causing operators to look for a new route to fast, affordable backhaul.

PMP wins as PTP falls from favour

As point-to-point (PTP) solutions begin to fall out of favour with operators, due to the limited available spectrum and limited antenna space, Infonetics comment that PMP is an approach being rapidly adopted by operators around the world due to its cost saving benefits and reduced capex cost.

PMP has been recognised as a significant driver of the overall market moving forward, as operators choose this approach, combined with their long term fibre strategy to ensure they are well placed to deliver record-breaking capacity whenever it is required.

Point-to-multipoint accounts for only a modest proportion of the overall microwave market today, represented mostly by smaller specialist players such as Cambridge Broadband, but it likely to become much more significant…

– Infonetics report


The good news

The good news is that operators now seem to be grabbing the bull by the horns and tackling the issue of limited capacity due to weak backhaul links. We can be certain that the mobile broadband landscape will continue to change and evolve with tablet devices like Apple’s Slate predicted to be the next wave of high-capacity devices that hit the market.

The bigger picture tells us that the only way is up for data-hungry devices, but it seems that it is only the operators with the strongest long and short-term backhaul strategy will be ready.

2009 retrospective: a record year for
Cambridge Broadband Networks

2009 was another record year for Cambridge Broadband Networks. The first quarter was kick started with the appointment of former Motorola executive, Terry Vega, as chairman which hit the global media in January. Then, due to the trading success in 2008 which delivered another revenue hike, a well-publicised financing package was secured despite the economic uncertainty that was sweeping the country.

By far one of our biggest successes of ’09 was the launch of VectaStar Next Generation, the world’s highest performance point-to-multipoint (PMP) microwave platform and IP Backhaul solution for cellular networks, which was quickly adopted by Wana, Morocco’s leading operator, to increase the performance of its backhaul network and support the introduction of mobile broadband services. This launch resulted in a flurry of activity at the GSM Mobile World Congress in the same month, as journalists and customers were eager to learn more about the new product release.

Global Telecoms Business Award

Awards, awards …

Another high point came in June, with the presentation of the prestigious Business Innovation Award in collaboration with Vodacom’s Gateway Communication at the annual GTB Innovation Awards. This was awarded in recognition of the delivery of secure, high-quality, and reliable broadband connectivity to enterprises in Nigeria and across West Africa rolled out by Gateway, using our VectaStar wireless broadband platform.

A few weeks later, Cambridge Broadband Networks was named as a finalist in the ‘Best Technology Foresight’ category for the World Communications Award 2009, with similar category finalists including BT, Etisalat and Zain.

… awards!

The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 2009 recognised Cambridge Broadband Networks as the UK’s fastest growing wireless hardware company in September, ranking Cambridge Broadband Networks 21st in their fastest growing technology companies nationwide.

CEO Graham Peel regarded the ranking as “an honour, as the competition is as fierce this year as ever before”

Success in the Middle East

A significant contract was announced in October, with Saudi Arabian operator Mobily, partially owned by UAE operator Etisalat for the provision of VectaStar to backhaul its 3G high speed packet access (HSPA) network in Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh, the Western Region (Jeddah, Mekah and Medinah ), the Eastern Province (Al-Khobar, Dammam and Dhahran) as part of its plans to expand its VectaStar network nationwide.

Cambridge Broadband Networks at AfricaCom

Africa shows a storming success

North AfricaCom and AfricaCom were storming successes for Cambridge Broadband Networks at the end of 2009. Described by Steven Evans, CEO, Etisalat Nigeria as an “excellent show”, AfricaCom organisers welcomed a record number of telcos executives through the doors. Needless to say, the Cambridge Broadband Networks stand was a hive of activity, as industry professionals and the media filed in for updates on VectaStar Next Generation developments.

2009 completes with a new CFO

With another high profile addition to the management team, as Peter Welch was appointed CFO in December, Cambridge Broadband Networks finished the year on a high. We have experienced record profits since the company’s inception, we’re now looking forward to an even more successful 2010.

We’d be happy to meet you at MWC 2010

Join us in February at the 2010 Mobile World Congress at Hospitality Suite 4.3HS30.

MWC 2010

To book a meeting with a Cambridge Broadband Networks representative, please email our events team at

Network Design Services Group launching in 2010

Cambridge Broadband Networks has launched a suite of Network Design and Support Services to compliment its range of industry-leading VectaStar point-to-multipoint microwave products. The service offerings are designed to simplify the deployment of efficient, cost-effective mobile broadband microwave backhaul networks across the globe.

Modulation schemes

Cambridge Broadband Networks was recently named by Infonetics as a ‘leader’ in the point-to-multipoint (PMP) phenomenon. This is gathering speed due to the mobile broadband boom, driving Cambridge Broadband Networks to offer a more comprehensive range of products to its growing customer base. The range will deliver the highest level of quality, practices, materials and performance to its customers.

Network Design Services will include:

  • PMP network design integration and consultancy
  • VectaStar RF planning services
  • Network management system integration services
  • Comprehensive on-site training workshops, or training at CNBL global training centres

Services will also include a range of extended hardware and software warranties with 3rd line technical support options

This new suite of services will enable customers to take control of their networks, with the assistance and guidance of fully-trained consultants. Customers will also have the opportunity to access comprehensive training, developing in-house expertise.

CEO, Graham Peel said:

“We want our customers to be secure in the knowledge that their VectaStar network has been designed to extract it’s maximum cost and performance benefits.”

Find out more

To learn more about this new suite of services, contact your Cambridge Broadband Networks Account Representative or visit

Cambridge Broadband Networks will also be demonstrating the RF Planning Tools at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, February 15 – 18, Hospitality Suite 4.3HS30

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GTB Award Photograph courtesy of Andy Lane/Global Telecoms Business