5G is touted as the next generation of cellular networks, with its state-of-the-art technologies to completely alter the nature of interconnectivity. The world has changed drastically ever since the 3G network was introduced, and now 5G will make its mark in history as the most potent cellular network in existence. That said, the backhaul process to realize the full potential of the 5G has its challenges. 


Backhaul Requirements and Their Challenges

Up to its predecessor, the 4G cellular network, the challenges to meet its backhaul requirements were capacity, availability, deployment cost, and long-distance reach. However, the more powerful the network, the more difficult it is to meet its needs. New challenges such as the ultra-low latency and ultradense nature of the network are upon us. Due to the powerful technology of the 5G network, it will interconnect billions of people and devices and support the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. The ultimate end goal is to make it available on mobile networks.


The 5G network will need its cell site to perform without any hitch to avoid interference and provide quality of data transmission. This backhaul will require the 5G cell site to meet its requirements, such as traffic load intensity, latency, quality of service, and cost of implementing connections. However, the success of implementing the backhaul solutions is location-dependent. For instance, fiber connection could be the right solution in some places and other areas that are not available for fiber connection may host the line of sight for microwave connectivity. Hence, currently, there is no single technology that can dominate backhaul technology. Options are, of course, available, and it’s up to the operator to decide which solution works best according to the geographical area and economic state.


Accessible Backhaul Solutions

Fiber remains the first choice for backhaul due to its high capacity and low bit error rate before retransmitting any signal. However, the reality is that some areas are not equipped to implement this solution. A Deloitte Consulting LLP analysis estimated that it requires between $130-$150 billion over the next five to seven years to support broadband competition, rural coverage, and wireless densification. As one of the more advanced technologies in today’s world, fiber possesses grueling challenges before it can be implemented. Not only that but its deployment can consume up to several months when compared with its wireless counterparts. The cost is drastically higher than the wireless technology due to its logistics. Despite the challenges and cost of fiber, a successful fiber implementation would allow the 5G network to thrive and alter the connectivity landscape. This is precisely why it is crucial to hire industry experts when conducting fiber implementation.


Compared to fibers, wireless technology is not as powerful. However, its significant viability and cost-efficiency has made it a much more popular option to tackle the backhaul challenges. It provides end-to-end control of the network instead of installing a wired backhaul connection like the aforementioned fiber. Although the technology still has several factors to be considered before its implementation, one key difference with the fiber is that the wireless implementation process is much more feasible. The installment process is drastically cut short from several months from the fiber to just within a week. Not to mention, it is more efficient in almost all sectors of this technology.


Today, most wireless backhaul traverses copper-fed T1s/E1s at the cost of approximately $150-$400 per month. Wireless operators provide primarily voice services with defined revenues requiring small amounts of bandwidth with just $0.10/minute using approximately 13 kbps of bandwidth per call. Revenue for a wireless operator tracks directly to bandwidth usage and, ultimately, backhaul charges. This wireless technology may not bring the best quality backhaul, however its drastic viability and efficiency undoubtedly solidify its position as the next best thing.


In Conclusion

A successful 5G cellular backhaul will bring about a new age of interconnectivity between the people and machines or each other. Through a couple of backhaul solutions like the wired (fiber) connection or wireless connection listed above, the success of the next generation of cellular backhaul will inevitably come sooner rather than later. For more information regarding the 5G cellular backhaul, please visit this VIAVI whitepaper.

VIAVI Solutions has the expertise to implement new fiber networks or execute quality assurance on existing networks and assist you with 5G validation, 5G testing, and 5G visibility in pursuit of more reliable networking. VIAVI offers end-to-end network solutions through our 350+ global Channel Partners to meet your needs. Visit our website or contact us for more information.

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Channel Marketing Manager - APAC

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