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June 2010

Transformation in mobile data starts now!

by Lance Hiley, VP Market Strategy

As I write this article there is considerable excitement in England this morning because the iPad has finally arrived. We’ve all seen the furore that this device has created in the USA where it has been on sale for some time now.

Lance Hiley

I think we are all familiar with the innovations that this clever piece of technology from Apple promises to deliver and of course there are some sceptics like Claudine Beaumont, who wrote in The Telegraph, “Ultimately, the iPad is a large iPod touch: a great device to draw your inspiration from, but perhaps not the seismic shift in technology that we were expecting.”

I think it is a seismic shift – or perhaps a transformation, but not in the area that most people are looking. The Apple iPad-3G is the first (in my recollection) computing device to be shipped by a top-tier manufacturer with a SIM card slot built-in.

In a single stroke, Apple has made it OK to embed mobile broadband as well as WiFi and I think that is going to be an event that transforms our industry. As Dell, HP (recent acquirer of Palm), RIM and others race their competing devices to market, I’m sure we will see details emerge that they too are including SIM card slots on their devices.

Vodafone and others are already selling ‘iPad-ready SIM cards’ on attractive tariffs. No longer will you have to remember to bring your mobile broadband dongle with you, risk breaking it when someone brushes by you in a busy cafe, or have to decide whether you use WiFi or mobile broadband when you turn off your computer. It will all be embedded, seamless, and another factor that will drive increasing data usage on mobile networks.

Lets see if I’m right.

Is the transport networks community on a slope of enlightenment?

by Julius Robson, Wireless Technology Consultant

I have recently attended my first Transport Networks for Mobile Operators conference, and would like to share the thoughts and impressions that came to mind during this excellent event.

During the past few years whilst speaking on behalf of the LTE/SAE Trial Initiative on the maturity of LTE/SAE technology development, I became acquainted with the concept of the ‘hype cycle’. In order to raise awareness, new technologies often go through an initial period of over-enthusiastic hype until it reaches a ‘peak of inflated expectations’. There then follows a ‘trough of disillusionment’ as reality bites and everyone realises the claims may have been exaggerated or misleading. At this point the press loses interest and leaves the engineers to work through development and application of practical products – the so called ‘slope of enlightenment.’

The transport networks community climbs the slope of enlightenment

It seems to me that the transport networks community are just starting this phase with respect to backhauling LTE/SAE with an all IP packet core. Following previous panic over the need for an entirely new IPv6 network supporting hundreds of Mbps per cell with sub millisecond latency, many operator and vendor speakers are coming with the message that its ‘time for a reality check’. The following points were made:

  • LTE will not be requiring previously advertised peaks of 173Mbps backhaul per cell Real world rates are more in the region of 30–60Mbps per eNodeB. Several speakers commented that data does not have a ‘busy hour’ behaviour like voice. In fact peak rates are more likely to occur at the quiet times, when one user gets the whole cell to themselves. This work is also the subject of an NGMN study led by CBNL, so watch this space for further news.
  • Sync requirements for ‘vanilla’ LTE are the same as for HSPA. LTE (FDD) requires only frequency sync for RF carrier stability of 50ppb, which has already been achieved with either Sync-E, NTP or PTP (IEEE 1588v2). TD-LTE and MBSFN (Multimedia Broadcast with Single Frequency Network) do have tighter requirements for time and phase sync, which today can be achieved using GPS.
  • IPsec is not essential. This subject was addressed in a pre-conference workshop from the NGMN. FT/Orange stated that they felt this was unnecessary in their networks for user traffic. IPsec adds significant overhead, additional security gateways, and precludes use of DPI for monitoring and traffic management.
  • The new X2 interface is no cause for panic. Traffic on these inter-base station links is expected to be only 2-3% of S1, so will not require extra provisioning. It only carriers user traffic during handovers which is of course when they are at the edge of cell and have low data rates. It is possible to use Ethernet switching for X2, so L3 routing is not necessarily needed out to the edge.

So, why are we waiting?

Two operators, including CBNL customer MTN Ghana, presented success stories from their up and running all-IP core networks. They have both successfully deployed MPLS in the core and busted the myths over packet based synchronisation. Their message “What’s everyone waiting for?”

Now that these early ‘enlightened’ adopters have deployed the technology and demonstrated the benefits, the all-IP mobile core will soon be ready to enter the final phase of the hype cycle, namely ‘The plateau of productivity’.

Julius Robson

Julius Robson joined Cambridge Broadband Networks to ensure their point-to-multipoint backhaul product is LTE-ready and aligned with industry technology trends. He is also leading an NGMN workstream on Backhaul Provisioning for LTE. Julius joins us from Nortel where, in addition to working on their LTE product strategy, he also worked as Chairman of the LTE Trial group LSTI, set-up by key operators and vendors interested in evaluating LTE technology.

Review: Transport Networks for Mobile Operators

Transport Networks for Mobile Operators’ (TNMO) has been running for a decade now and continues to be the leading specialist forum for mobile backhaul, RAN and core transport networking professionals, offering networking opportunities to over 2000 industry professionals since 2000.


On Day 2 of this year’s London event, Michael John Paul, MPLS and Core Network Planning at MTN Ghana explained the challenges they face when planning and building high-speed networks across Africa, and why using VectaStar significantly speeds up deployment time and makes vital use of the limited tower space available to them, giving them the backhaul capability they need to help futureproof their network.

Download Michael John Paul’s presentation.

The following day, Lance Hiley of CBNL then went on to examine point-to-multipoint solutions in more depth, demonstrating how and why PMP is the future of microwave backhaul. VectaStar is costing the operators less, achieving high performance, reducing network complexity and bringing LTE ready functionality.

Download Lance’s presentation.

The event also hosted a demo of the new zero-footprint VectaStar Gigabit solution which was shown to delegates on the CBNL exhibition stand throughout the show.

The demonstration consisted of a live demo of a VectaStar Gigabit Access Point and two Terminals. The system operated without any additional ‘indoor’ equipment and could be clearly seen to be ‘zero-footprint’ or in other words, an all outdoor solution. The demo showed how you could transmit 150Mb/s of Ethernet data to the two terminals in the sector, thereby validating the 150Mb/s sector capacity. A variable attenuator was connected to one terminal enabling the 7-step adaptive modulation system to be demonstrated also. Due to the indoor nature of the demonstration, the antennas on the system were substituted with coax cables but nevertheless a convincing demonstration that VectaStar Gigabit Zero Footprint is real and ready for deployment!

Providing Hungary with fastest ever mobile broadband is all in (half) a day’s work for CBNL

NEC was in the global press last week, when it announced the high profile deployment of national enterprise access network in partnership
with Antenna Hungária.


The duo are working together on an initiative set to revolutionise mobile broadband in Hungary, using CBNL’s VectaStar to drive the network.

This project will deliver much-needed high speed internet to Hungary’s largest enterprises, as well as providing slicker, faster mobile broadband to its mobile operators.

NEC and Antenna Hungária recognised VectaStar as the best solution due to its low operating costs, combined with its rapid installation time. Antenna Hungária are rolling out networks at considerable speed, typically deploying each installation in half a day!

Read the press release

MTN and CBNL: a winning combination

by Graham Peel, CEO

A proven track record of delivering the fastest mobile broadband across Africa and up to 50% opex savings; just two reasons why MTN choose VectaStar to backhaul its HSPA RAN networks.

Here’s are some of the others:

Africa’s mobile giant, MTN, is continuing to take Africa by storm, as it delivers fast mobile broadband to countries that have traditionally been ‘offline’, breathing new life across the region as new mobile broadband networks pave the way for opportunities in business, education and broader social development.

This case study takes a closer look at MTN Ghana’s recent roll-out of a high speed HSPA radio access network in partnership with Cambridge Broadband Networks. The report looks in detail at the installation of point-to-multipoint networks, presenting the business case for point-to-multipoint (PMP) for last-mile backhaul over the traditional backhaul options of fibre and point-to-point (P2P) solutions.

The report tracks the progress of installing a low cost, high-speed network in one of the fastest developing and most competitive telecommunications regions in the world. CBNL’s VectaStar PMP links proved to be up to five times faster to commission than a comparable P2P link, at a fraction of the running costs.

MTN Ghana is continuing to raise the bar in telecommunications services, as it offers customers the widest coverage and the highest network reliability in this fast-moving and competitive environment. Using VectsStar to backhaul these high speed networks has slashed network OPEX, by reducing the number of radios, mast space and power consumption of equipment. While, ability for quick deployment enables unparalleled rapid generation of revenues and ROI.

Download this free case study and learn more about this partnership

NGMN and the next 20 years of backhaul


The NGMN Alliance published its ‘NGMN Optimised Backhaul Requirements’ some time ago.

Heralded by some as the ‘Roadmap for the next 20 years of backhaul’ it makes sense that any backhaul vendor meets its requirements.

Cambridge Broadband Networks has just published a whitepaper where it maps the NGMN requirements against the performance of its VectaStar PMP product.

Download the whitepaper if you are interested to learn how VectaStar can be a key part of your next generation network.

Join us at
NGMN summit
in Shanghai

CBNL are gearing up for NGMN’s third industry conference, taking place in Shanghai on 2 – 4 June.

CBNL will be just one of the NGMN member companies from throughout the mobile ecosystem that will be presenting during the two days of keynotes, panels and presentations from global industry thought leaders.

CBNL will be joining industry players such as Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson and NSN on the ‘world premier demonstrations’ stage, where VectaStar Zero Footprint will be in the spotlight.

Visit NGMN for more information about the third industry conference.

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