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MOBILE BACKHAUL: GET READY FOR THE NEXT WAVE IN BANDWIDTH DEMAND

By Spirent On November 4, 2011
Wireless
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By all indications, the rising demand for ever-richer broadband services is unstoppable. And inevitable.

As consumers increasingly rely on smart phones, tablets and mobile-enabled laptops as their portals of choice, operators are compelled to evolve their systems to keep pace. Service providers must rethink and reconfigure network technologies to meet the demand for spectrum. Goodbye TDM/ATM based systems, hello converged packet infrastructures. Only transformed networks will ride the big wave.

TALKIN’ ABOUT MY MOBILE GENERATION

With 5 billion+ mobile subscribers worldwide today, the next wave is just beginning to gain momentum as the use of ever-more-powerful new mobile devices signals a shift toward more multimedia-rich applications.

Video content is taking a bigger part of that bandwidth every day. Consider that video accounted for 51% of Internet traffic in 2010. In three years, video is expected to comprise more than 90% of Internet traffic. Voice revenues, too, are projected to increase steadily, albeit at a somewhat slower pace.

ImageAre mobile networks ready? Well, not yet. Perhaps we have become conditioned to expect the impossible from our data-centric services. Remember that the next time a dropped call tempts you to throw your cell phone through your sunroof.

Those leaders who are driving the evolution of the new mobile backhaul architectures have no option but to meet the new generation of tech-savvy users head on, or they will be down for the count. We can anticipate that the existing TDM technologies will, by necessity, evolve toward packet-based platforms in order to facilitate the emergent broadband services.

And the consumer thirst for more bandwidth will only increase as expectations for more advanced devices and richer content grows. Will RIM and MSFT be in the ring while heavyweights GOOG and AAPL are slugging it out? We’ll know soon enough which platforms consumers are most likely to embrace—and whether designers are willing to support them with reliable end-to-end solutions. However it all plays out, mobile operators are now entering a challenging new phase of development that will undoubtedly impact their backhaul technologies.

THE LITMUS TEST OF SERVICE QUALITY

Transitioning from existing backhaul architectures to technologies that support increasing broadband services is no small task. Key concerns include the cost of migration and an assurance of seamless functionality. And it’s not like flipping a switch—flexibility is paramount and blended networks will no doubt be the norm while migration from 2G/3G to 4G/LTE continues.

But how can you be certain your systems will work reliably in what is, arguably, an already over-subscribed environment? Answer: By throwing everything you can at it—and more—to challenge and validate your technology performance at every level.

While improvements in carrier grade Ethernet and router capabilities enable the Ethernet backhaul to better meet bandwidth demands, achieving TDM-like reliability raises challenges around timing, synchronization, manageability and QoE. Here are the essential questions to ask:

  • Can accurate synchronization be achieved and maintained among network nodes?
  • Can the Ethernet mobile backhaul achieve TDM-like reliability at scale?
  • Can redundancy and protection mechanisms fail-over without apparent impact to subscribers?
  • Can live backhaul networks be constantly monitored for performance and adherence to SLAs?

Remember, it’s all about delivering QoE. The next generation of mobile technologies demands testing solutions that are ahead of the curve in order to overcome these nascent challenges cost-effectively. It is essential that your testing solution provide both traditional performance measurement and rigorous analysis of actual network scenarios and traffic patterns. In plain terms, the transition to next-generation networks demands testing solutions appropriate to the needs of evolving technology. With the help of Spirent TestCenter, service providers can overcome these challenges with cost effective solutions.

How do you see next generation of mobile technologies impacting you?

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