Mobile backhaul options – Spectrum analysis and recommendations 

02 November 2018

The future of mobile broadband services relies on a variety of high performing and cost-effective mobile backhaul options. A report from ABI Research details backhaul trends across all network types, including the growing dependence on fibre and terrestrial wireless.

Backhaul is the link that connects mobile base stations to the rest of the operator’s network and then onto the internet. It is important because it has a direct impact on the speeds users get. A fast link from the base station to the user and vice versa falls flat if the backhaul link can’t keep up.

Fibre and terrestrial wireless dominate mobile backhaul services today and they will continue to dwarf other options going forward. On a worldwide basis, these two approaches will connect 97.3 per cent of base stations by 2025.

Together, they offer the capacity and affordability to connect broadband in rural and urban areas. They are also the only two that can truly keep up as access speeds surpass the gigabit barrier.

Still, other technologies are also used to fuel networks. Mobile backhaul via satellite plays a role in remote areas, and while it currently represents 1.9 per cent of backhaul links worldwide, it is expected to drop to 1.4 per cent by 2025.

Mobile backhaul cheat sheet

For regulators and governments that want to make the most of mobile’s massive potential, stimulating and simplifying mobile backhaul access is a key step. This work should include:

• Assigning spectrum with fair prices, terms and conditions;

• Designing investment-friendly regulatory frameworks; and

• Facilitating backhaul and streamlining planning approvals for widespread small cell installations.

The full ‘Mobile backhaul options – Spectrum analysis and recommendations’ report is available here. There is also an infographic that sums up the most important issues. It is available here.

The GSMA’s spectrum team also offers a wealth of other relevant reports, including an in-depth look at spectrum pricing.

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