Industry Insights: Vic McClelland Publications - March 2018
“5G a Distant Dream for India when backhaul takes a back-seat”
As the authors, Danish Khan and Tina Gurnaney of ETTelecom, point out, widespread adoption of 5G requires “strong backhaul.”
It’s easy for us to assume that fiber is the only type of backhaul for 5G. We forget that in many countries, it’s microwave, not fiber, providing the backhaul connection to mobile base stations, and for good reason.
Indeed, what is needed in those countries, is a high capacity wireless solution for 5G. As we know, high capacity wireless backhaul means more spectrum, and more spectrum is available at higher bands. Thus, the shift towards mmWave or E-Band spectrum.
Therefore, in countries like India, where backhaul today is 80% microwave, it is very important that E-Band spectrum be opened up to light licensing.
However, E-Band backhaul technologies alone are not enough to solve wireless connectivity for 5G backhaul. They do not provide high enough capacity over backhaul distances between the small cells and the network edge, and they are not reliable enough in the rain for 5G use cases.
This is where hybrid solutions that use both Free Space Optics (FSO) and E-Band wireless backhaul are needed. 5G use cases will need very high capacity, and very highly reliable backhaul, and in many countries, this must be wireless as optic fiber is very expensive and very hard to deploy.
That this article acknowledges the need for strong wireless backhaul, in addition to deploying more optic fiber, in countries such as India is a positive step.