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May 2009

Industry sights are firmly set on LTE for future networks

The number of operators committed to LTE for their future mobile broadband is climbing steadily


In February this year, Cambridge Broadband Networks released VectaStar Next Generation. This new product release enabled operators to cost-effectively and rapidly build-out next generation mobile broadband networks and is the world’s highest performance point-to-multipoint (PMP) microwave platform

Read the press release

Since its launch, we have been meeting a high customer demand for VectaStar Next Generation. It has become apparent that, even against the backdrop economic uncertainties, our customers have been confidently moving forward with their network developments.

One key driver of the uptake of VectaStar Next Generation is the industry’s focus on LTE. The number of Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscriptions worldwide will grow at a CAGR of 404 percent from 2010 to 2014, a pace faster than any previous mobile standard including 3G, according to the latest report from Pyramid Research. With increasing visibility of the shape of the future landscape of mobile broadband, today’s operators are choosing a solution that offers a cost effective and sustainable method to backhaul unprecedented amounts of data on the networks they are building today.

The forecast for LTE is becoming ever clearer. Its promise to deliver users the benefits of faster data speeds and increased capacity, squeezed into the same quantity of spectrum, makes it the industry’s hottest topic. The number of mobile operators committing to LTE deployments today acts as a definitive barometer to the expected take-up of LTE networks over the next 3 years. With the first network forecast to enter service in 2010, the GSA reported recently that the number of mobile operators committed to LTE networks has risen from 26 to 31 in just one month.

What has been less clear until the launch of VectaStar Next Generation is the way the industry was planning to backhaul data-heavy traffic at unprecedented speeds. At the recent TNMO conference in Amsterdam, operators reported HSPA and LTE average cell site traffic requirements ranging from 10Mb/s – 50Mb/s and with rates peaking at 150Mb/s. This capacity is easily within VSNGs capabilities, but not all backhaul solutions can say the same.

So, what else are operators looking for in the run up to LTE?

Capacity is the most obvious focus area for most backhaul solutions providers, but the rapid take-up of VectaStar Next Generation suggests that operators are focussing on three additional key areas when evaluating their backhaul solution:

  • Simple migration to LTE, while supporting existing networks
  • An up-to-date backhaul solutions that is evolving with the fast-paced industry
  • Efficiency. Less spectrum, lower capital and less operational costs

These three areas are integral to the design of VectaStar Next Generation and allow operators to plan for LTE using a phased, cost-effective migration path. According to a recent report from Infonetics Research, the “big trend” towards microwave exists because it offers a scalable and cost-effective roadmap for managing the escalating bandwidth demands driven by the mobile broadband boom, and future 4G deployments.

Combine this scalable, cost-effective roadmap with the highest-performance PMP backhaul solution on the market and you have a clear market leader. VectaStar Next Generation.

In summary, it seems that the industry’s sights are firmly set on LTE for future networks. The number of operators committed to LTE for their future mobile broadband is climbing steadily, say the GSA

According to our customers, VectaStar Next Generation couldn’t have come at a better time. As operators look towards LTE and beyond, they are confident that a backhaul solution fits with their future roadmap in terms of capacity, LTE migration, cutting edge design and efficiency.

Join the debate

  • When do you think the first LTE networks will be ready for commercial use?
  • What do you think average and peak data rates experienced by users will be?

Blog your answer or email us and tell us your views

Read more blog articles like this at the backhaul blog

Cost effective mobile backhaul for mobile operators

Lance Hiley, VP Market Strategy discusses much-needed cost effective backhaul

We are living in exponential times: Mobile data consumption is spiralling. Mobile apps and ways to get them are springing up everywhere. Video streaming, games and good-old voice traffic are still growing. In fact, there is very little sign of the credit crunch when you look at operator’s network traffic figures – so why are their financial results not demonstrating the same characteristics?

The problem still remains for mobile operators that revenue per customer is plummeting, as all you can eat data/text/voice packages have become the norm and wireless operators are scrambling for new ways to generate profits.

Low cost + High Capacity = Low ARPU

This equation doesn’t seem to make sense, but for a mobile operator it’s undisputable. Today’s operators are having to offer their customers more data performance from their mobiles for less revenue thereby adding to their cost base but getting less money in return. If a mobile operator can offer high capacity at low cost to the end-user, while still keeping a healthy profit margin, they would have a considerable competitive advantage over their competition. Clearly they need to decouple the cost of delivering data capacity to customers from the traffic demand.

Mobile network services have evolved quickly to meet the need for connected lifestyles and data-heavy services. Through this evolution, we have empirically established that:

  • Mobile networks today are sophisticated infrastructure that need equally sophisticated backhaul solutions
  • What has worked in the past is generally not scalable for the future
  • Innovative architectural changes to the backhaul network can deliver big savings

Backhaul conundrum

ABI Research forecasts by 2013 operators will spend over $8.6 billion on LTE base stations infrastructure. LTE in many instances will overlay on top of existing networks and in some cases will reuse existing backhaul resources. However, for operators whose backhaul networks don’t scale to LTE or where existing sites are not ideally located for LTE, further investments in backhaul will be necessary.

One way that operators can reduce the Capex impact of deploying LTE is to change the architecture of their last mile microwave backhaul and introduce a point-to-multipoint solution like VectaStar. VectaStar has significant advantages over conventional microwave as shown below:

PMP Advantages

However, not all PMP solutions are created equal and in the case of VectaStar it has some special characteristics for operators designing flat, all-IP networks like LTE. Key to the VectaStar solution is its powerful access point that delivers 150Mb/s of sector capacity with a single 28MHz carrier at 26 or 28GHz. The access point is capable or serving multiple terminals in a sector.

PMP Capex and Opex focus

The Cambridge Broadband Networks vision for Ethernet networks is a new access point strategy that introduces a paradigm shift in microwave backhaul thinking. Our vision is to deliver significant cost benefits to operators on several levels:

  • The cost basis for VectaStar is such that for Ethernet networks, the cost of deploying VectaStar is less from as few as three links. Therefore Capex is much lower on modest to large networks
  • Fewer radios and antennas mean that recurring Opex costs are significantly lower
  • VectaStar’s architecture makes considerably better use of spectrum resources stretching available bandwidth, reducing the complexity of dense networks and dramatically reducing planning costs
PMP Advantages

All in all, our planning work with customers indicates that VectaStar is the most cost effective way to build a dense network using an example of 15 cell sites:

  • Point-to-point is 40% more expensive at 5 links
  • Point-to-point is 80% more expensive at 15 links
  • Point-to-point 48% higher net cost over 5 year scenario

Anyone planning to build a new mobile broadband network or to off-load the traffic from an existing one should consider VectaStar for their backhaul needs:

  • All other microwave alternatives are more expensive
  • VectaStar makes your network simpler to design and build and uses less resources
  • It is the fastest time to deploy microwave solution
  • It has high performance – enough to backhaul LTE networks
  • It aggregates and statistically multiplexes packet data over-the-air reducing core traffic costs

Our conclusion? VectaStar is the most cost effective way to build a backhaul network!

Slides to support this are available here.

This presentation was given at this year’s TNMO

News from the team

The Addenbrooke’s garden project

You may have read about our project at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge on our Twitter page

Working together with the UK Charity WellChild, the CBNL team spent two days working towards regenerating the garden of a children’s ward. The aim of the project was to turn their tired-looking garden into a fun and vibrant play area.

In teams we gave the different sections of the garden a thorough make-over, with themed areas, a giant chess board and new toys and equipment.

Not only was this a fantastic team building exercise, but it has made a real difference to the lives of the children that use this garden every day.

Dr Mary Archer is the Chairman of Addenbrooke’s hospital and a famous face nationally. A letter from Dr Archer said:

“I know that all the children who come to Ward D2 in future will find their stay that little less stressful and more fun because of the environment you have created in the garden”

We’re looking forward to our next project!

Learn about VSNG