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Dark Fiber for Mobile Backhaul: Lighting the Path to Mobile Network Operator Growth 

  • March 2016
  • 9 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 3748574

Summary

Table of Contents

Dark Fiber for Mobile Backhaul: Lighting the Path to Mobile Network Operator Growth

Introduction

Data traffic on mobile networks is growing at exponential rates, and the growth is expected to continue into the near future. The numbers of users and access devices in the consumer and business markets is similarly increasing, as are user expectations for reliable, anywhere, anytime connectivity and support for real-time streaming applications.

The next generation applications (e.g., telehealth, mobile health and machine-to-machine remote monitoring, mobile education, smart grid infrastructure, smart transportation, smart homes, and various telematics applications) have already begun to tip some cell towers, or macrocells, over the “capacity cliff” in high-density mobile user areas, and will most likely overwhelm a greater portion of the network in the near future.
Mobile networks, as engineered, which rely heavily on macrocells, cannot provide the high level of quality of service (QoS) guarantees expected by consumers, and required by businesses, at every location. In an effort to extend 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage to their bandwidthhungry mobile users, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are increasingly embracing and deploying integrated heterogeneous networks (HetNet). HetNet helps with network densifications, and could include a combination of macrocell, small cell, and distributed antenna systems (DAS). Traffic from each of these wireless antennas must be backhauled—from macrocells to a mobile switching center (MSC), and from small cells/DAS to base stations, and then to an MSC.

2 MNOs have traditionally used a combination of lit fiber or commercial network services and leased dark fiber solutions for macrocell backhaul.3 To meet high capacity and specific QoS requirements (low latency being key among them) on their mobile networks, MNOs are increasingly turning to dark fiber for macro cell and small cell backhaul connectivity. In this paper, we take a close look at the mobile backhaul trends driving demand for dark fiber, and analyze how network service providers (NSP), cable MSOs and pure-play dark fiber vendors are meeting the market demand.

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