Why Ethernet is the way forward for mobile backhaul

This is critical for an all-IP network, driving the evolution of timing recovery implementations, with standards maturing for integrated time and phase distribution over telecom networks.

Modern backhaul solutions, like the LSI® Axxia® Multicore Processor family, must provide mechanisms to seamlessly integrated legacy and IP-based networking, as well as effective and accurate timing solutions.

Leveraging Ethernet

A typical next generation wireless solution (e.g. LTE) would involve small cells, micro cells and macro cells providing connectivity into higher and higher capacity Ethernet backhaul based on an All-IP packet based network.

Such an architecture would be especially suitable for delivering real time video, although local content caching at the base station or operator servers will help to reduce video jitter/buffering.

However, operators need to consider the likelihood of base station topologies fragmenting, and the impact this will have on the ability of small cells and microcells to generate sufficient traffic to justify higher capacity Ethernet backhaul.

In this scenario, cells could communicate wirelessly back to a mother - or traditional - base station to access Ethernet backhaul. Base stations supporting hundreds or thousands of applications could be pooled together over one high speed IP over Ethernet backhaul connection.

Such a solution could make business sense for high density cell based coverage that then requires high speed uplink via the Ethernet backhaul.

Using Ethernet for backhaul may have an impact on microwave sites as well, since tower rent and infrastructure sharing can offset revenue on microwave sites as well as overall cost reduction in equipment capital expenditure.

However, the assumption here is that shared market costs require meaningful scale and density. In this respect, targeting attractive smaller or emerging markets using tower/infrastructure sharing can provide meaningful coverage and return on investment for service providers.

Ancillary Benefits

Having a consistent technology with Ethernet for mobile and fixed networks provides new opportunities for applications and services – and with them, additional revenue opportunities.

Convergence to an all-IP over Ethernet network for both mobile and fixed networks will, over time, allow for seamless inter-operability on a unified protocol platform.

Providing new opportunities for applications and services on a single platform is easier than supporting multiple different platforms and, assuming a common approach to service provider policy, this should enable additional revenue opportunities through new applications and services and enhance overall user experience (QoE).

In ways like this, Ethernet not only solves the "data deluge" problem of exponential growth in data traffic cost-effectively and efficiently, but also brings new opportunities through convergence from legacy to all-IP networks.

  • Ed Saba is product manager of the Axxia Communication Processor family within the Networking Components Division of LSI Corporation