The appetite for mobile broadband backhaul capacity is increasing, as expected. This will continue with the arrival of 5G, which will also put new requirements on microwave networks.
In the future, microwave share will continue to be high, supporting the requirements of LTE and 5G.
With the introduction of 5G in microwave bands, the availability and usage of microwave spectrum for fixed services will go through a major transformation in the next few years. E-band will grow in importance and in usage, and we will see an introduction of new bands around and beyond 100GHz.
The evolution of 5G new radio (NR) is rapidly progressing as more parts are being standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and other organizations, with a focus on both enhanced and new services.
This requires a closer look at the demands that will be put on the transport networks to achieve the desired results. Transport networks need to support new types of radio networks and additional interfaces with different requirements on bandwidth and latency, but the diverse deployment possibilities in 5G RAN cause actual transport demands to vary more than in typical 4G networks.
- It is forecast that, by 2022, the typical backhaul capacity for a high-capacity radio site will be in the 1Gbps range, rising to 3–5Gbps towards 2025
- It is also predicted that 80 percent of sites in an advanced mobile broadband network will still be operating under 350Mbps in 2022, and towards 2025 this will have increased to 600Mbps
- Due to the increasing number and size of LTE deployments in India, microwave share is now forecast to be higher than previously estimated
- Real 5G trials are on the horizon. Microwave technology is keeping pace in line with this, and today transport deployments of 10Gbps E-band links are an actuality
- Over the next few years, we will see the first 100Gbps links emerging from research labs using new frequency bands and MIMO technology, driven by rising traffic density and new, high-capacity radio interfaces in 5G
- Ahead of 5G’s rollout, improvements in operational simplicity, efficiency and cost are necessary. One way in which this can be done is to integrate transport further into the radio domain, as transport capabilities will impact the overall network performance for future 5G use cases