A Telecomasia article, Global operators face challenge on increasing backhaul capacities based on a recent study by ABI, argues that operators around the world are facing bandwidth constraints in their backhaul networks due to the growth of data traffic and bandwidth intensive services like multimedia content. Backhaul are the high-capacity pipes phone companies and Internet service providers use to haul traffic over large distances.
Backhaul capacity in this context refers to the networks within a country or within a contiguous region. Backhaul is distinct from the under the ocean submarine cables which currently have excess, unused capacity thanks to the dot-com bubble driven investments into this high capacity links that connect continents.
A number of technologies are proposed for the backhaul links that are suited for specific regions based on what kind of infrastructure already exists. A number of new players are getting into the backhaul business, including Cable TV companies who are able to use the excess capacity in their networks.
“The study identifies six technology options for cellular backhaul: T1 over copper (dominant in the Americas), microwave and other radio technologies (dominant in Western Europe), Ethernet over copper, Ethernet over fiber, WiMAX, and cable.
“There is general agreement within the industry that Ethernet over fiber will be the long-term solution of choice,” says Arden, “but much of that fiber will have to be laid, incurring upfront capital costs. ‘How long is long-term?’ remains an open question.”