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Mobile backhaul needs more dark fibre and more SDN to manage it with

cell tower-heav

via Flickr © by Montgomery County Planning Commission (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Expect mobile backhaul to be a big noise at Mobile World Congress this year. Yes, it’s usually a focus at MWC, but this year it has the spotlight. Coriant has been doing some research (via Heavy Reading) based on a survey of 75 mobile operators.

What’s happening? Unbundled fibre access services will be needed by two thirds of the companies surveyed. They’ll buy fibre or wavelengths but the bandwidth has to be there to meet continuing demand for data services. On the same theme, over half the respondents predicted increasing demand for routers at cell sites to create an intelligent edge for enhanced packet handling.

The white paper – New Drivers and Roadmaps for Mobile Backhaul Evolution sought to find the key trends and attributes transforming mobile backhaul networks. Another two thirds of the respondents saw SDN  as a promising means of addressing backhaul network challenges such as congestion that directly impact end-user Quality of Experience and nearly three quarters expect to hold trials of SDN in the backhaul in the next two years.

Even more heartening for the purveyors of SDN, 85 per cent of those surveyed said they expect live deployments in the 2018-2019 timeframe.

"This survey reveals that operators are positive about the potential of SDN in the backhaul and that optical networks are central to the next phase of backhaul evolution," said Patrick Donegan, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading. "The coming years will also see specific services begin to drive backhaul network evolution."

"Mobile operators will require advanced IP/MPLS and SDN solutions to transform the mobile backhaul network to support LTE-Advanced and new services," said Paul Smelters, Senior Vice President of Data Networks, Coriant. "Coriant continues to shape the evolution of mobile backhaul with our scalable portfolio of 8600 Smart Router solutions and innovations in SDN that create the foundation for highly programmable and service-aware networks."

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