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May 15th, 2013, Vol:1

Editor's Words

By Sridhar Pai, ceo, Tonse Telecom


Mobile Backhaul Gets All the Attention from Asian Carriers

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As more Asian carriers expand their 3G / 4G LTE footprints, one part of the network they realize cannot be ignored anymore is - mobile backhaul. This was amply evident in the recent 2-day mobile backhaul event from Beacon Events at Bangkok, Thailand. With most dominant carriers from the region present - including the likes of KDDI, Korea Telecom, Digi and most leading backhaul vendors in full attendance on both days.

Although different Asian carriers in the region are in various stages of growth and expansion, it appears that to all of them, backhaul continues to be a congestion zone - that needs careful management. Listening to the operators and their backhaul strategies, it became clear that each one has developed its own best practice to deal with the backhaul issue and here is a brief analysis of what I noticed.

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For starters, Mobile Backhaul strategy is certainly a function of the legacy network infrastructure prevalent in the region/country of operation. For example, for KDDI in Japan, where plenty of fiber has historically been available, the need for microwave was not very high. Still the uptake of LTE has been so strong and bandwidth consumption per consumer so high, that KDDI had to adopt a multi-level backhaul strategy including cable, fiber, part satellite and a dense combination of home and public hot-spot Wi-Fi. KDDI's high density Wi-Fi network includes about 1.5 million home Wi-Fi APs and about 200k public hot spots deployed to supplement macrocell network. Another operator that has done a similar roll out of Wi-Fi APs is Korea Telecom to supplement its 4G network's fast growth.

Small Cells (referring to a range of non-macro cells including Wi-Fi APs, pico and femto cells, metro cells) is no small debate any longer - and this event carried several sessions of discussions focused on Small Cells. The challenges of specific LTE bands in penetrating buildings for providing effective in-door coverage and the cost of large scale LTE macro-cell deployment are two strong drivers for Small cell growth. Of course another driver is user behavior, as increasing instances of large volume data sessions are seen to occur in-door.

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Small Cell layout and design, it appears to me is somewhat under-rated currently. The complexities of RF study, building layout (especially large public spaces, such as stadia, malls, gated communities in Asia) will require detailed study and design considerations. Emerging markets such as India, where price considerations are paramount, frequently force vendors to take shortcuts to deployment and subvert use of sophisticated design and planning tools. This is an important trap that carriers need to watch out for.

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Sridhar Pai runs Tonse Telecom, a Bengaluru-based telecom research and consulting house that is a research partner to Light Reading India.

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About Tonse Telecom

Tonse Telecom is a research, consulting and advisory services organization focusing on the India telecom sector. Tonse Telecom enables telecom equipment vendors, ISVs, infrastructure developers and investors for success in the Indian telecom marketplace.

Tonse Telecom has onboard, a team of reputed senior industry executives and consultants who provide advisory services on specific projects. Tonse covers a broad spectrum of telecom technologies that include 3G, Wi-Fi /BWA, IMS, FMC and Triple Play, VoIP, Mobile VAS, End-device Applications and Mobile Content.

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