About 150 operators are actively deploying a single (no TDM) all-IP/Ethernet backhaul in some part of their network in 2011, up from 25 in 2009 and about 100 in 2010, according to Infonetics Research. The accelerating move to “all IP” includes a mix of business drivers, Infonetics Research says.
In addition to the usual drivers for moving to all-IP/Ethernet backhaul (mobile broadband traffic, HSPA+, Long Term Evolution), a new driver popped up in 2011, namely fixed mobile convergence. Many carriers now plan to optimize their operations by converging mobile and fixed traffic in the same network core. And that means IP and Ethernet.
The growing carrier embrace of IP and Ethernet also suggests that former concerns about packet timing and synchronization are no longer a barrier to deploying IP/Ethernet backhaul facilities. The shift to IP and Ethernet backhaul seemed to accelerate in 2010, when Infonetics Research said it had “seen a wholesale shift in backhaul strategies as operators try to reduce the costs associated with skyrocketing mobile data traffic,” said Michael Howard , principal analyst and co-founder of Infonetics Research. “Six months ago (in late 2009) when we surveyed operators around the world, most were taking a dual/hybrid backhaul approach (TDM plus IP/Ethernet).”
“Just last month (March 2010) when we repeated the survey, most operators told us they plan to use a single IP/Ethernet backhaul, whether over microwave, fiber, or copper,” says Howard. “Mobile operators and transport providers now trust IP/Ethernet to do the whole job, including the tricky timing and synchronization required for most of the world’s mobile networks.”
“With operators increasingly recognizing Ethernet-based solutions as the best available means of accommodating backhaul traffic growth, and with microwave products now achieving 1Gbps in some scenarios, the Ethernet-only microwave segment is poised for rapid growth over the next few years, out-performing hybrid TDM/Ethernet solutions,” says Richard Webb , directing analyst for microwave at Infonetics Research.