Small Cell Backhaul for 3G/4G/5G/LTE

Solutions: 3G and 4G/LTE Small Cell Backhaul

Small Cell LTE 3G Network
LTE Cellular Networks Small Cell

Small Cell backhaul refers to the transmission links between the small cell and the mobile network operator’s core network. This can take many forms:

For residential and many enterprise small cells, this can be almost any broadband internet service, including DSL and Cable. Sometimes mobile operators mandate that only their own fixed broadband service can be used with their residential small cells, but at least 50% don’t. The performance of the broadband link can affect the quality of service, but residential femtocells have been found to work with as little as 256kb/s broadband throughput. Sometimes, a benchmarking performance test is conducted during the online sale of a residential small cell, to ensure this will be adequate. In live operation, small cells monitor the bandwidth available and restrict their own capacity to handle calls where there is insufficient available – for example, limiting to one or two concurrent calls rather than multiple.

CableFree Small Cell Backhaul using CPRI over MMW
CableFree Small Cell Backhaul using CPRI over MMW

For metrocells, deployed in streets and other public areas, a combination of wireless (for the last few hundred metres) and fibre seems ideal. A wide variety of technologies are being considered or adapted for this purpose, and we explain how a toolkit approach to metrocell backhaul is most likely. In particular, the last few hundred metres from a remote metrocell to the nearby hub will be a wireless link, and this (dubbed “fronthaul” or “streethaul”) has attracted the most attention.

For rural small cells, an existing broadband wireline service can also be used. However, for the more remote locations, satellite backhaul is now a cost effective option. A related use case involves dealing with natural disasters, where satellite connected small cells can quickly restore service.

Why is Small Cell Backhaul needed?

GSM, 3G and 4G operators and upcoming 5G networks are faced with exciting challenges – including extending networks to provide adequate connectivity in dense regions with a rapidly expanding user base. In rural areas the cells which comprise the network are relatively sparse – and frequently connected using microwave links. However, in urban areas the high density of GSM subscribers and radio propagation issues mean that “Microcells” are created – often to cover a small locality, building or an RF ‘blind spot’, connecting GSM Base Station Transceivers (BST) and Base Station Controllers (BSC), or 3G “NodeB” base stations.

While take-up is slower than originally forecast, the cellular industry is beginning to show signs of densification through urban small cells. One of the constraints has been suitable backhaul, with fibre being strongly preferred but not universally available.  Several wireless backhaul vendors have recently launched higher speed products. Throughput is a critical factor for adaptable and rapid urban small cell roll out.

CableFree 4G to 5G Evolution Small Cell Backhaul
CableFree 4G to 5G Evolution Small Cell Backhaul

Traditional Wired Solutions lack capacity and flexibility

Traditional wired connectivity solutions for Small Cells use VDSL, ADSL+ links using copper wires or fibre optic links – but there can be drawbacks. Copper is slow and limited in reach, and often unreliable due to ageing plant, installed in a pre-broadband analogue era. In some areas fibre circuits are already available – but often patchy in availability – and sometimes impossible if proposed links are across a river, road or railway, or in a developing country where the existing telecommunications operator has limited or unreliable infrastructure.

High Capacity Backhaul up to 10Gbps, 20Gbps and beyond

CableFree MMW offers  up to 10Gbps or 20Gbps today.  Free Space Optics (FSO) and Millimeter Wave (MMW) links can offer 1.25Gbps capacity, and Microwave solutions can offer up to 3Gbps capacity using latest-generation technology.  Non-LOS MIMO radios in 2-6GHz band can be used as well.

CPRI FrontHaul Options using MMW and FSO

CPRI “Front Haul” Links can be achieved using Millimeter-Wave (MMW) and FSO with CPRI options for ultra-low-latency direct connection between Base Station Infrastructure and Remote Radio Heads (RRH).
CableFree offers a complete range of solutions using high-capacity, highly reliable wireless solutions with low cost of ownership. CableFree products offer up to Gigabit capacity with NxE1 integrated multiplexers and are installed in hours, not weeks.

4G/LTE backhaul solutions

Sometimes operators have access to alternative spectrum such as 3.5GHz or similar, ideal for fast non-LOS urban, suburban and rural broadband links to Small Cell sites.  CableFree offers complete LTE solutions including Base Stations, EPC and a complete suite of CPE products, plus backhaul links up to 10Gbps

3G 4G 5G LTE Small Cell Backhaul

A CableFree solution offers the following features and benefits:

High performance: Gigabit Ethernet (1.25Gbps) and CPRI (1.22Gbps) capacity using FSO, 10-Gigabit Ethernet using MMW, up to 3Gbps using Microwave and 550Mbps using Radio links
Rapid Installation: 15 minutes deployable on tripods, 3 hours permanent installation is achievable
Highly reliable: 99.999% availability achievable
License-Free Operation: No fees to pay on license free band
No monthly rental fee: Low maintenance solution
Diverse Technology Options: Complete range of FSO, Broadband Radio, Microwave, MMW, WiFi
Fully Manageable: Advanced software tools
Resilient solutions: 1+1 and N+1 Hybrid resilient link options
Highly Secure: Proven inherently secure technologies
Moveable asset: Low Total-Cost-of-Ownership (TCO)
Safe & environmentally friendly: Low disruption during installation

CableFree products are field-proven, with thousands of deployments in over 70 countries since 1997. Excellence in performance and reliability are not sacrificed in providing highly competitive priced solutions together with a comprehensive range of support services.

Application Note

Case Study

For Further Information

For further information on Applications and Solutions for the range of CableFree wireless networking products please Contact Us