Market research, financial analysis and consulting on wireless technologies and services
Backhaul for small cells. Finding the right cost/performance tradeoffs to meet the backhaul challenge
 Report Highlights

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Report roadmap

Requirements: Definitions, deployment typologies and requirements for small-cell backhaul solutions.

Solutions: Assessment of different technologies (fiber, wireless), spectrum bands (sub-6 GHz, microwave, millimeter wave, licensed and license-exempt bands), architectures (LOS/NLOS, PMP/PTP, topologies, form factors, and deployment models)

Vendors: Vendor strategies and overview of innovative solutions.

Financial analysis:
Financial tradeoffs of alternatives, including fiber versus wireless, PTP versus PMP, LOS versus NLOS, and at the cost impact of integrated backhaul, relays, and wholesale business models

In their own words: Vendors' own statements on what makes their solutions stand out in the market


Fiber, sub-6 GH licensed and license-exempt, PMP and PTP microwave, 60 GHz, E-band


Airspan, Alcatel-Lucent, Aviat, Blinq, Bluwan, BridgeWave, Cambridge Broadband Networks, Ceragon, DesignArt, DragonWave, E-Band, Ericsson, Huawei, Intracom, NEC, Nokia-Siemens, Powerwave, Ruckus Wireless, Siklu, Skyfiber, Sub10, Taqua, Ubiquiti


LOS versus NLOS; PTP versus PMP; Star, spoke-and-hub, ring, hybrid topologies; relay hops


Capacity, latency, distance, spectrum bands, form factor, installation, power, LOS/NLOS, PTP/PMP, LTE-Advanced features



Backahul for small cells
Finding the right cost/performance tradeoffs to meet the backhaul challenge

Backhaul is crucial to the small-cell business case. Without high-capacity, ultra-compact, low-cost backhaul, the small-cell market will struggle to grow.

Backhaul for small cells requires more than just re-purposing existing backhaul solutions. This is a new market for backhaul vendors – a big opportunity but also a big challenge as they strive to meet a very different set of requirements from what they are used to in the macro-cellular environment. New products are not only required to be smaller and cheaper, but they have to operate in more challenging RF environments.

No single solution will suffice. A combination of fiber, line-of-sight (LOS) and non LOS (NLOS) will be necessary to build the new layer of backhaul infrastructure. Multiple options are available or under development, and they will have to coexist within the same deployment.

Mobile operators and vendors are both confronting these questions. No final verdict is available, but after an extensive interviews and a financial modeling exercise, we have identified a few important emerging trends that are shaping mobile operators’ requirements and vendors’ roadmaps.

The report presents what we found out in this process. It presents an in-depth overview of the market based on interviews with operators and vendors, and a financial assessment of the business case. Topics covered include:

- What are the backhaul solutions that will become prominent? LOS/NLOS? PTP/PMP?
- Which spectrum bands will be used?
- What are the emerging backhaul strategies among mobile operators?
- How well are vendors addressing this market? Where is innovation coming from?
- What backhaul solutions are affordable? What is the per-link price point that makes small cells viable?
- How should operators evaluate tradeoffs in cost and performance?

Source: Senza Fili

About the Senza FiliSenza Fili provides advisory support on wireless data technologies and services. At Senza Fili we have in‑depth expertise in financial modelling, market forecasts and research, white paper preparation, business plan support, RFP preparation and management, due diligence, and training. Our client base is international and spans the entire value chain: clients include wireline, fixed wireless, and mobile operators, enterprises and other vertical players, vendors, system integrators, investors, regulators, and industry associations.

We provide a bridge between technologies and services, helping our clients assess established and emerging technologies, leverage these technologies to support new or existing services, and build solid, profitable business models. Independent advice, a strong quantitative orientation, and an international perspective are the hallmarks of our work. For additional information, visit www.senzafiliconsulting.com or contact us at info@senzafiliconsulting.com or +1 425 657 4991

About the authorMonica Paolini, PhD, is the founder and president of Senza Fili. She is an expert in wireless technologies and has helped clients worldwide to understand technology and customer requirements, evaluate business plan opportunities, market their services and products, and estimate the market size and revenue opportunity of new and established wireless technologies. She has frequently been invited to give presentations at conferences and has written several reports and articles on wireless broadband technologies. She has a PhD in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego (US), an MBA from the University of Oxford (UK), and a BA/MA in philosophy from the University of Bologna (Italy).


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