5G wireless needs fiber, and lots of it
When the topic of 5G wireless comes up, your first thought likely isn’t about fiber networks running under the ground. 5G mobile networks will significantly affect both the wireless side (obviously!) and the wireline side of the global network infrastructure. In fact, 5G’s formidable network performance goals are heavily predicated on the availability of fiber, and lots of it, to cell sites.
By Brian Lavallée – According to the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) latest “Trends in Telecommunication Reform” report, ongoing capital investments related to fiber infrastructure are expected to total a staggering $144.2B between 2014 and 2019. One of the primary drivers for this immense capital investment into fiber infrastructure deployments comes out of thin air, in the form of tomorrow’s 5G radios.
5G mobile networks will significantly affect both the wireless side (obviously!) and the wireline side of the global network infrastructure, as airborne bits jump to and from terrestrial wireline networks. In a previous post, I summarized the main aspirational performance goals of 5G, which are listed below. These formidable network performance goals are heavily predicated on the availability of fiber, and lots of it, to the cell sites.
- Up to 1000 times increased in bandwidth, per unit area
- Up to 100 times more connected devices
- Up to 10Gbps connection rates to mobile devices in the field
- A perceived network availability of 99.999%
- A perceived 100% network coverage
- Maximum of 1ms end-to-end round trip delay (latency)
- Up to 90% reduction in network energy utilization
Traditionally, 2G and 3G mobile networks often used copper-based Time Division multiplexing (TDM) circuits, such as multiple bonded T1s or E1s, to connect cell sites to a nearby Mobile Switching Center over the Mobile Backhaul (MBH) network. Although this now legacy MBH architecture has indeed served the industry well for decades, it’s quickly showing its age with advent of 4G. MBH upgrades are taking place all over the world converting legacy copper-based MBH serving cell sites to packet-based transport over fiber, which enables far higher capacities to best future-proof MBH networks.
The increased adoption of 4G LTE and LTE-Advanced mobile network technology is accelerating these MBH fiber upgrades, which can and will be leveraged by future 5G networks, given the almost unlimited bandwidth that fiber-based networks offer.You can examine viable options for the road ahead with our Essentials Series guide: Mobile Backhaul. more>