By 2015, mobile operators will be paying €13 billion a year for backhaul leasing. Operators also face the challenge of high costs as they upgrade backhaul networks to support high data rates, often involving a change in backhaul technology, as well as adding capacity. These are big reasons for operators to look at ways to claw back some of the cash outflow by setting up their own cost-efficient mobile backhaul.
However, as technologies advance, complexity soars, and understanding the intricacies of how backhaul and radio networks interact is a key issue.
Helping people to understand better how to set up backhaul to effectively support mobile radio technologies was the mission that I and my Nokia Siemens Networks colleagues took on when writing our new book, Mobile Backhaul (Wiley 2012)*. The first publication to take an end-to-end view of the complete subject, the book looks at both the radio network and IP network sides of the equation. Of course, radio networks have been covered before and IP networks have also been written about extensively, but never as part of a cohesive whole that explores the importance of both aspects to the mobile backhaul system.
In addition, most previous books on IP have devoted substantial numbers of pages to office and enterprise apps, making it hard to dig out content relevant to backhaul. In many cases, it is far from obvious which of the many protocols would fit the backhaul application.
So who would find this book useful and what does it cover? The book is aimed primarily at experts like myself, working in the field of IP or mobile networks, as well as operator personnel, such as IP and radio system planners. It will also interest anyone seeking more knowledge on IP within the context of the latest high speed radio technologies: LTE and HSPA.
Presented in two parts, the first section gives the big picture, while the second part goes into more detail. Part 1 consists of an overview of the different aspects of mobile backhaul networks, while part 2 is a detailed discussion on protocols, functionalities and technologies, on both the radio network side and on the backhaul and networking technologies.
The book’s strength is that it does not isolate these aspects but considers how they are set up to complement and support each other – how the radio bearers are set up, from both the 3GPP signaling and IP point of view, how the radio network is secured with regard to 3GPP, how we obtain timing to the base stations via the IP network – all topics that are very specific to the mobile backhaul application.
The book is a distillation of the authors’ extensive experience in the field. I have been involved in mobile backhaul technologies since 1995, leading a specification team for IP in radio networks, while my co-author Juha Salmelin manages a backhaul research team in the company’s CTO department. Both of us have worked in the field of networking for more than 20 years, helping us to bring insight into the evolutionary steps and expertise in both IP and radio subjects.
With leased lines representing up to 50% of base station site costs, backhaul represents a significant outlay. We hope that the book will help operators get their mobile backhaul costs under control while still supporting high data rates for mobile broadband and for the mobile Internet – enabling a better network for all of us as users.
This post is by Esa Metsälä, Principal, Network & Transport, Nokia Siemens Networks.
* The book aims to present a generic description of mobile backhaul. Its content is based on the authors’ knowledge and does not necessarily reflect any official Nokia Siemens Networks viewpoints or describe technologies or products specific to Nokia Siemens Networks.