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Alliance unifies industry requirements on small cell backhaul

06 July 2012

Alliance unifies industry requirements on small cell backhaul
We were delighted to announce the release of the latest NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks) Alliance white paper on ‘Small Cell Backhaul Requirements’ at last week’s Small Cells World Summit, after editing it in our capacity as Co-Lead of the NGMN Backhaul Evolution Project.

But why is this significant? This is a big step forward in the world of small cells as the output of the Alliance is signed off by 18 operators that collectively represent over half of the entire worlds’ mobile subscribers.

We are talking about some of the biggest industry players here which is quite a feat and one the NGMN have executed gallantly.

Backhaul – the key challenge

So back to the white paper. Backhaul is increasingly cited as a key challenge for small cells, but there is uncertainty on the requirements and which solutions are most suitable.

In our capacity at the NGMN, we led a group of operators and vendors with the aim of gaining consensus on the specific needs for this emerging area of backhaul technology.

The white paper published the results which focus on operator deployed, open access small cells and the ‘last mile’ of the backhaul.

Small cell standards

As we so frequently hear, operators are considering the deployment of small cells as a complement to macrocell networks to improve coverage at ‘not-spots’ and ease congestion at ‘hot-spots’.

Many of the backhaul requirements for small cells are the same as those for macro sites, however there are some differences:

  • Cost per small cell backhaul connection must be lower than for macrocells, but user Quality of Experience cannot be sacrificed.


  • There is however scope to relax some aspects of the offered Quality of Service:
    • Backhaul availability may be relaxed for capacity sites at hot-spots.
    • Capacity provisioning may be relaxed for coverage sites at not-spots.
  • Small cells dictate the following new requirements for backhaul:
    • Coverage down to street level sites with sufficient QoS.
    • Security, small form factor, and low installation cost.

An initial consideration of several types of wireless and wired backhaul solutions shows that whilst each may be strong in one type of requirement, no one solution meets all requirements.

We therefore concluded that operators must address diverse small cell deployment scenarios with a ‘toolbox’ of backhaul solutions.

The white paper contains more information and is free to download from the NGMN website via this link.

I hope this white paper is as well received as previous NGMN publications which I have seen referenced by Operators at a range of industry events - proof the Alliance has been successful in standardising requirements.

Here's a video from the Small Cells World Summit where I provide more information. Small cells, here we come.

Categories: 5G FWA Blog

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