Ericsson tests strengthen wireless backhaul's suitability for 5G

Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom say the results of a wireless backhaul trial prove the technology can provide a genuine alternative to fibre for 5G networks in the future.

The two companies achieved speeds of 40Gbps over a distance of 1.4 kilometres at Deutsche Telekom’s service centre in Athens, Greece. This is four times the existing 10Gbps limits of millimetre wave (mmWave backhaul).

But just as important is latency. The total round-trip latency was less than 100 microseconds – an essential milestone for 5G networks that promise ultra-low latency characteristics.

5G wireless backhaul

The use of wireless backhaul could transform the economics of 5G network deployment and help operators bring coverage to areas where there is an absence of suitable fixed backhaul. Operators have frequently voiced their demands for more fibre networks to support rollout and have supported any move to ease regulations.

“Microwave continues to be a key technology for mobile transport by supporting the capacity and latency requirements of 4G and future 5G networks,” said Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks at Ericsson. “Our joint innovation project shows that higher capacity microwave backhaul will be an important enabler of high-quality mobile broadband services when 5G becomes a commercial reality.”

 “A high-performance transport connection will be key to support high data throughput and enhanced customer experience in next-generation networks,” added Alex Jinsung Choi head of Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.

“While fibre is an important part of our portfolio, it is not the only option for backhaul. Together with our partners, we have demonstrated fibre-like performance is also possible with wireless backhauling/X-Haul solutions. This offers an important extension of our portfolio of high-capacity, high-performance transport options for the 5G era.”

While Ericsson will be buoyed by the results of its latest tests, investors will be concerned at a 6.1 billion SEK (£540m) charge to its accounts after failing to achieve the desired  results from tis Business Support System (BSS) division.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.