Small Cell Backhaul At The Oktoberfest?

At the Oktoberfest the overload in the mobile phones related cells might be onerous. 6,9 million visitors are passionate about sharing there experiences by their smartphones – mostly per MMS or email attachments. How is this enormous data traffic to handle? A backhaul is needed to connect the small cells to the core network, internet and other services.

So, in its run-up free Wi-Fi at the Munich Wiesn was considered publicly, too. With LTE services being rolled out to an increasing number of users worldwide, carriers and solution providers, now more than ever, need to have a Backhaul strategy in place.

Mobile operators consider small cell backhaul is more challenging than macrocell backhaul because small cells are typically in hard-to-reach near street level rather than in the clear above rooftops, and carrier grade connectivity must be provided at much lower cost per bit.

LTE Antenna at the Munich Oktoberfest 2013
© senderlistemuc, 2013

With Small Cells and WiFi gaining wider adoption, the technical standards are moving fast to develop new features and to integrate Small Cells and WiFi in the evolved packet core (EPC) with minimum possible complexity.

The advantage is less about technology and more about spectrum. The key requirements are the flexibility to deploy without having to wait for regulatory permission or having to deal with interference from other operators.

Thus, if you as a provider get permission for public Wi-Fi and small cell deployment then that could make the Service Provider Wi-Fi business more interesting. This gives intermediate players like Vodafone, T-Mobile or O2, who can deal directly with building, real estate and council owners, an important role to isolate network operators from many/multiple negotiations with location owners. This would make it much more convenient for operators to contract through intermediate players than directly themselves.

In a hierarchical telecommunications network the backhaul portion of the network comprises the intermediate links between the core network, or backbone network and the small subnetworks at the „edge“ of the entire hierarchical network.

In contracts pertaining to such networks, backhaul is the obligation to carry packets to and from that global network. A non-technical business definition of backhaul is the commercial wholesale bandwidth provider who offers Quality of service (QOS) guarantees to the retailer. It appears most often in telecommunications trade literature in this sense, whereby the backhaul connection is defined not technically but by who operates and manages it, and who takes legal responsibility for the connection or uptime to the Internet or 3G/4G network.

The most important issue for a Metrocell is to offload traffic from the macro network. Location is fundamental – the NGMN has indicated that cells need to be located within 10 metres of each traffic hotspot – so there really needs to be much more flexibility in backhaul. This is where wireless backhaul becomes more significant.

In one survey, 55% operators listed backhaul as one of their biggest challenge for small cell rollout (Small Cells Market Status, Informa Telecoms and Media, June 2012).

But forecasts should be tentative, as „we have to consider that in reality most operators are very conservative about adopting new technology“, said Esteban Monturus, Backhaul Market Analyst at Rethink-Maravedis.

The 3rd Annual Small Cells Global Congress (5 – 6 November 2013, Maritim proArte Hotel, Berlin) is the industry’s first event to focus on small cells, guarantees to provide forward thinking, topical and focused discussion needed to provide delegates with the understanding and vision needed to move confidently through this dynamic market.

So wireless backhaul may be more important than for macrocells, but not excessively so. The deployment of antennas at the Oktoberfest might be useful as a proof of concept.

A List of mobile, temporary antenna masts at the Oktoberfest 2013 is contributed by Philipp Scharl on (rb)

R. W. Brunner