Backhaul Network Sharing in the Packet Era

by RanAvital | Oct 2, 2013 8:30:15 AM

In this post Ran Avital analyzes backhaul network sharing and gives his post-conference thoughts about the 3rd Annual Packet Microwave & Mobile Backhaul event, which took place last week, September 23-25, in Dusseldorf, Germany.



Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual Packet Microwave & Mobile Backhaul event in Dusseldorf. Aside from the fact that this event is a great place to meet the competition, look at QAM dots on the scope in the neighboring stand, and touch the new slick design of the latest compact radios, it is also a great place to meet the analysts. The top six analysts covering our industry moderated or presented during the sessions. It’s not often that you get to meet in one room Emmy Johnson from Sky Light Research, Earl Lum from EJL Wireless, Glen Hunt from Current Analysis, Jimmy Yu from Dell'Oro Group, Esteban Monturus from Maravedis-Rethink, and Richard Webb from Infonetics Research. A really unique opportunity to get a 360-degree view of our industry!

It was soon apparent that this was not going to be one of those “small cell backhaul attacks adorned with Hetnet, NLOS, nLOS, V and E Bands, PtMP backhaul and fronthaul sobriquet kinds of conferences. Oh, we had plenty of those buzzwords, and SDN (Software Defined Networks), NFV (Network Function Virtualization), to top it off. But above the usual radio clutter emerged a more mature, business-oriented discussion led by some of the top operators. Just to name a few, Mike Ferris from EE, Peter Jennings from MLL Telecom and Shueb Ahmed from Telefónica O2 addressed one of the soaring subjects of our industry. Assuming there is only so much you can do in the existing regulatory and competitive environment to improve your top line, the best way to improve your bottom line is to go back to the lesson you learned in preschool: SHARE!

From separate to shared networks: Site and microwave link-sharing with separate RAN and core From separate to shared networks: Site and microwave link-sharing with separate RAN and core

These three gentlemen presented a UK-specific situation where almost every mobile operator is running its backhaul over different types of networks including those of his direct competition, a CoC or the incumbent. These operators are facing similar challenges.

Between the lines in the presentations, there was an indication of the secret behind good network-sharing relations between would-be rivals: keep it transparent, keep it fair.

You might be asking yourself, “Didn’t we solve this already with TDM?” Well, yes. In the good old days of TDM, we had DS1/E1 granularity with a clear hierarchy. You knew what you were getting. ATM extended this concept further.

But this is history. Today, we are all running packet networks and the 10 billion dollar question is: “How can we replicate this secure feeling of network cooperation over today’s packet networks?” In the discussions, the key was denoted as VLAN QoS. In layman’s terms, this means: a measurable and controllable hierarchy of services.

Over a single, shared packet, microwave backhaul network, several mobile operators are running numerous services such as synchronization, voice, mission-critical dispatch, software download, and video streaming. Each operator has paid for a certain level (or levels) of network “attentiveness” and expects:

  • Fairness
  • Transparent management
  • Accurate reporting and assurance
  • Correct setting and tracking of SLAs
  • Policy enforcement
  • These are the five necessary ingredients to successful sharing. Taken together, they indicate provisioning trust between all the parties.

In the next few weeks, I will continue to analyze the emerging trend of backhaul network sharing and its many aspects including technical requirements. For one: Hierarchal QoS is required in your packet microwave.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the conference if you attended. If you didn't attend, conversely, I'm also interested in hearing what you think are the biggest trends emerging in network sharing today. Be in touch and stay tuned!


Ran Avital is responsible for Ceragon Networks marketing strategy and positioning the company's product in next generation backhaul networks. Prior to joining Ceragon, Mr. Avital led ECI's broadband solutions marketing focused on delivering IPTV, VoIP, and Mobile services over IP based broadband networks. Mr. Avital has more than 15 years of extensive and varied experience in the telecommunications industry. In prior positions, he has served as R&D project manager, product marketing and solution marketing. Mr. Avital holds a MBA and a BSc degree in Physics and Computer Science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ran can be reached by email at [email protected]


Holistic HetNet Hauling (3H), ISPs & RSPs


Written by RanAvital