SatellitePRO ME has interviewed industry players to talk about cellular backhaul and how it has evolved. Semir Hassanaly, Market Director Cellular Backhaul & Trunking at Newtec, points to the changes in mobile backhaul that came with the explosion of data in recent years. Additionally Semir talks about customers, the HTS influence and challenges.
To read the full article in SatellitePRO ME follow this link. Below we have asked Semir (SH) to give us a bigger picture addressing above topics.
How is satellite cellular backhaul evolving?
SH: Satellite cellular backhaul has initially covered rural areas and provided 2G voice connectivity through macro cells in C band. As time evolved, newer technology was made available which allowed increasing data service, higher speeds and all IP infrastructures.
Today more users enjoy smartphones and social media has radically changed the usage habits, satellite cellular backhaul coverage has expanded to sub-urban areas. And where satellite backhaul was primarily destined for emerging countries it is now addressing industrialized lands thanks to small cells, 4G LTE, High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and advanced technology such as Newtec’s patented Mx-DMA™ which incorporates the best features of MF-TDMA and SCPC technologies and at the same time solves the difficult choice to select one or the other.
With the explosion of mobile data in recent years, what has changed in backhaul from the times of 2G to 4G?
SH: There are many challenges in satellite backhaul which must be addressed, each of them require a specific set of solution to be effective:
- There is a large variety of projects types such as Universal Service Obligation (USO), small cells, backup, trunking. Each of these have different objectives (like low CAPEX, architecture, throughput) which require different features and capabilities
- There are different mobile architectures involving TDM circuit-switch, ATM, 3G iub, HSPA with varying interfaces, 4G LTE, VoLTE. Each of them have different behaviours and characteristics which must be taken care of.
- Usage is changing: from voice centric where latency and jitter matter extremely to data/video/P2P, Mobile broadband, from Rural/Extreme rural to semi-urban. This has a consequence on traffic patterns which are also changing from symmetric to Asymmetric, More data and more bursts.
- The Industry has traditionally been entangled in the SCPC/TDMA return technology battle for several years.
The industry has addressed these challenges as follows:
- There is a wide product offering from several vendors which address low CAPEX/low requirements equipment to highly efficient and performing platforms
- Specific solutions have been developed around the satellite offering to take care of the efficiency, of the TCP latency, and of mobile user experience.
- Newtec’s Mx-DMA™ (as mentioned above) for instance is the unique market solution which is really tailored for low-to-high throughput backhaul traffic requirements, for voice and data, for High Throughput Satellite (HTS) and C/Ku/Ka band.
The solutions are therefore totally different from the early 2G centric to today’s 4G.
Where are the main customers for backhaul? What markets use it the most?
SH: Traditional markets are mobile network operators in emerging countries (Africa, Asia and South America) who wish to offer quick service (or were obligated to) and coverage to their subscribers. However there are also a few deployments in US where wide distances and mountainous regions are suited for satellite backhaul. Today newer business opportunities are arising in Western Europe, US and Asia where customers want to provide affordable bandwidth in spot areas through small cells and HTS. Many mobility projects are also leveraging LTE for the core technology.
How will HTS help?
SH: HTS is a key player in driving down the cost of satellite bandwidth and make this technology ubiquitously available worldwide. While satellite quality of service and user experience has improved significantly over the years, the main issue related to OPEX was still being seen as a show stopper. The HTS, small cells and Mx-DMA combination for instance provides an optimized CAPEX/OPEX/QoS which is now extremely appealing to mobile operators and mobility markets.
What are the challenges? What technologies are in place to counter these challenges?
SH: HTS deployments rely on the satellite launches and the ability for satellite operators to demonstrate the benefits to the end customers. As projects in this space traditionally require a very long cycle, some delay has affected the availability of the promised services. However the needs are ever demanding in terms of bandwidth and costs: HTS is poised to succeed!
On the technical side, wideband capacity, multiple beams, high throughput and Ka band operation require relevant features and agility to provide seamless service with top QoS and subscriber satisfaction. The technology is here: it is now a matter of time to reap the fruits of the HTS promise.