Solving the Challenge of Small Cell Backhaul and More

By    February 14, 2014

LTE and LTE Advanced deployments are accelerating but demand for mobile data is accelerating at an even faster pace as any industry source or prognosticator will attest. As Service Providers move forward with 4G deployments, they are moving forward with packet networks not circuit, and as such lose the ability to time their networks with a TDM clock. At a slower pace, network operators are also coming to grips with the eventual transition to IPv6 based networks, in many cases operating in parallel with the existing iPv4 networks. A less certain trend is the broad deployment of small cell access solutions to provide additional capacity in high demand locations; although, service providers around the World have begun field trials and in some cases commercial deployments. One significant challenge to enable effective street-level deployment of small cells is backhaul. It is not surprising that fiber connections are not readily available where Service Providers require capacity; and the frequency of near and non-line-of-site paths limit the use of millimeter wave microwave solutions (not to mention the challenging cost structure of those solutions).

To address those specific issues Cambium Networks recently introduced the PTP 650S, an exceptionally powerful sub-6 GHz PTP platform designed specifically for urban deployments where size does matter. Total volume of the platform is less than 3 liters (180 cubic inches), measures only 307 x 206 x 69 mm, yet delivers up to 450 Mbps in aggregate throughput. We also introduced native support of both IEEE 1588v2 and Synchronous Ethernet to enable timing (phase and frequency) of the 4G access points on both the PTP 650S, and its big brother the PTP 650. Results from field trials with Service Providers in Europe and Latin America have proven out the capability of the PTP platform to operate in the difficult urban canyons where mobile data demand supports volume deployment of small cell access solutions. I do have to applaud Cambium’s development engineering team’s accomplishment with 1588v2 and Synchronous Ethernet – what their elegant implementation has accomplished in performance specifications that easily meet the NGMN and ITU standards is quite impressive!

An unintended but logical application of PTP 650S for enterprise access and video surveillance backhaul has rapidly emerged as we deployed the initial field trials and exposed the development to our partners and select end users. It seems that the PTP 650S diminutive size, performance, and deep QoS and VLAN capabilities may have a fan base outside its intended audiences and that’s all right! Time will tell if the small cell access market emerges as robust as some predict, or fails to gain critical mass as others have predicted. What is without doubt is that the demand for high capacity sub-6 GHz PTP has a role in in urban environment as the demand for access continues to climb.