Ericsson enables Liberty Global’s Access Network Expansion over high-capacity wireless trunk link

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), has helped Liberty Global to become the world’s first multiple-system operator (MSO) that can deliver high speed gigabit broadband and linear TV services to residential customers using Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) over a wireless backhaul ‘Trunk’ link. It is the result of an innovative trial between the two companies (NASDAQ: ERIC), in which the wireless backhaul was delivered using Ericsson’s MINI-LINK radio technology.

The trial demonstrates how service providers can significantly reduce build costs and avoid civil engineering works by utilizing a wireless trunk link instead of laying a traditional fibre trunk underground. Using millimeter wave radio frequencies in the E-Band (70-80 GHz), an on-network location in central Newbury (UK) was connected to an off-network location in Greenham over a three-kilometer line-of-sight 10Gbps link using Ericsson MINI-LINK 6352 radios.

Liberty Global carried out the trial within their Virgin Media UK business. Virgin Media believes that build costs can be reduced by up to 90 percent as a result of the wireless trunk link.

With the cable industry showing rapid growth within the FTTH domain, there is increased pressure on service providers to deliver more connections in a minimum amount of time and at the lowest possible cost. In addition, the industry migration to digital access networks in the coming years will also require the ability to connect a much broader set of technology applications.

The Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) decentralizes and virtualizes certain network functionalities to create a more software-defined network and bring digital fiber signals closer to premises. Combining DAA with a high availability and high capacity wireless is an innovation that has been trialed by Liberty Global and Ericsson.

The results from the trial have been very impressive with the trial homes receiving reliable 1Gbps download and 150Mbps upload speeds along with a full line-up of linear broadcast TV channels. The wireless trunk generated by the Ericsson MINI-LINK radio has been tested and delivered 99.5 percent availability in the most severe conditions over the past months in the UK withstanding high winds up to 80mph, 30mm rainfall and heavy snow. The solution also provides enough transmission capacity for years of growth.

Seamus Gallagher, VP for Access Networks at Liberty Global, says: “Alongside Ericsson, we have made the concept of wireless trunk backhaul a reality with this trial. We are very proud to present this as a new tool as part of our network expansion toolkit and look forward to continuing to collaborate on solutions with Ericsson’s leading technology.”

Everth Flores, Head of Ericsson Netherlands, says: “This innovative solution will bring speed and economic benefits to fixed MSOs which didn’t exist before. Potential applications for this trial solution include network expansion without having to compromise performance quality, faster-to-market applications, small-cell aggregation backhaul and business-to-business connectivity.  It shows the value that Ericsson’s radio solutions bring to the industry beyond mobile telecom operators.”

The trial utilises the 70-80GHz milli-meter frequency point-to-point link as a wireless backhaul as opposed to the 3.5GHz/26-28GHz milli-meter frequency being currently used in 5G Point-to-multipoint Fixed Wireless access scenarios by multiple mobile operators across the globe.

Furthermore, the trial has been set up in the UK for a stranded plant area where connectivity was not previously possible, however the opportunities also extend to all greenfield fixed networks expansion and capacity expansion in any country across the globe.

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