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Wireless Backhaul is Mostly… Wireless

T|Pack and Transwitch (TXCC) released a  whitepaper (.pdf link) on the use of Ethernet over PDH for wireless backhaul. The whitepaper is good reading, and contained within was an interesting chart.

The majority of existing wireless backhaul is… Wireless. The majority of new installs are… Wireless. Ethernet is still only 15% of new installs.

I’m not super-keen on Ethernet over PDH. What is funny about the whole situation is many of the vendors who sell Ethernet over PDH solutions also sell the inverse – PDH over Ethernet (circuit emulation). Both technologies are breathtaking tour de force achievements. I don’t think either will ever be a runaway commercial success, though circuit emulation should have a good run as wireless backhaul transitions to Ethernet.

Maybe wireless backhaul is the big market for WiMAX?


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  1. …and call it WoW (WiMax over WiMax).

    Posted by Bill Baker | May 8, 2007, 3:56 PM
  2. BusinessWeek has written several pieces regarding Sprint Nextel’s intent to use its WiMax network to provide backhaul for its CDMA cellular network.

    Apparently the economics are stunning — billions saved annually.

    Titled “Sprint’s Secret to Cost Cutting: WiMAX”

    Posted by Jim W | May 8, 2007, 5:04 PM
  3. Very interesting corrolary Jim.

    Is it possible that Sprint is just trying to find ways to justify spending money on Wimax?

    Last I checked, Microwave spectrum wasn’t at a premium. If most backhaul links are already wireless how is moving them to Wimax going to make a big difference?

    On top of this, I would have expected microwave to be deployed more often when a carrier doesn’t own the backhaul. Example: Verizon uses less microwave in the northeast than they do in the southwest since they control more infrastructure in the northeast. Sprint has little backhaul infrastructure hence they would tend towards microwave.

    Sprints explanation does not match the numbers above. Something is amiss.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | May 8, 2007, 6:26 PM
  4. The figures in the T|Pack/Transwitch whitepaper are global; microwave backhaul is far more prevalent in Europe, Asia, and Latin America than in North America. According to the Infonetics Research market data that T|Pack and Transwitch cite as their source, about 75% of NAM backhaul connections are wireline PDH (T1s), and about 20% are microwave. Sprint overwhelmingly uses leased telco T1s for backhaul.

    So moving to WiMAX makes a ton of sense for Sprint, because they avoid paying their main competitors (T and VZ) about $2B/year in T1 lease expenses. It wouldn’t have to be WiMAX – they could use PTP microwave – but WiMAX will presumably be lower cost than PTP microwave.

    Posted by DG Lewis | May 9, 2007, 10:14 AM
  5. Thanks for the excellent clarification.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | May 9, 2007, 10:25 AM
  6. Posted by Bill Baker | May 9, 2007, 10:31 AM
  7. DG’s clarification is correct. Sprint may save billions if it handles its own backhaul instead of leasing T1s.
    However, Sprint’s new planned WiMAX network is intended for (and suitable to) wireless access to cell phones, laptops etc. This is a classic point-to-multipoint NLOS (non-line-of-sight) mobile application, which was addressed by the new IEEE802.16e (AKA mobile WiMAX). Wireless backhaul is a point-to-point fixed LOS application, which was already addressed in the original 802.16 standard, and using 802.16e for it is a great way to waste spectrum (and money). Sprint could have started using WiMAX for backhaul years ago, and if it wants to start now, it will deploy a separate (and completely different) WiMAX system for this application.
    So Andrew, I wouldn’t bluntly say that “Sprint is JUST trying to find ways to justify spending money on WiMAX.” But that may be another good reason to embark on a backhaul project NOW.

    Posted by Adi Bonen | May 11, 2007, 12:39 PM
  8. i realise its been a while since this thread was active but with all the talk about Backhaul and how wireless 11n MiMo and wireless (mobile)WiMax becoming a really big item in the EU i am wondering.

    were is all the wireless 10GigE supplys and why is it we are not seeing anything of value in this market in the UK or the US for that matter.

    i was also given a lead of some old Tech ,something called

    almost half way down
    “If Resnick really wanted to make WiMAX happen on a global scale he might look into MILTON (Microwave Light Organized Network). It can have as many as 32 focused beams — in the unlicensed 5.8 GHz spectrum. Each MILTON beam can deliver some 50 Mbps a mile or more. Who needs fiber? VOD everywhere. The new digital translator.”

    it seems that its thought that if MILTON were updated and incorpoarted with current available processes then it can better match any costings so far.

    are we to assume that wireless 1GigE is still the best we can hope for based on off the shelf parts in this DVB/AVC/IPTV age?.

    Posted by david pop | May 29, 2007, 7:45 AM
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