LTE is evolving rapidly and 5G is emerging as the next step to providing enhanced and diversified services and use cases, putting new demands on backhaul. Networks will evolve incrementally to higher throughput and lower latency, depending on available radio spectrum and service demands.
With the introduction of 5G, backhaul capacity needs will evolve further. Towards 2025, extreme capacity radio sites could require as much as 10 Gbps. However, the majority of radio sites will require less than 1 Gbps. Multiband will be increasingly used in backhaul to enable the efficient use of diverse spectrum bands in the coming years, and meet the performance and availability requirements over wide geographical areas.
There is a long term global trend of microwave spectrum usage moving up in frequency. So far, the reason for this has been to access wider channels. However, new factors are now coming into play that will accelerate this shift up in frequency and in particular, the usage of E-band. The low spectrum fee approach for E-band is dominating and will support the dramatic growth of E-band in the future.
Hans Mähler, Product Line Head of Microwave Nodes and Routers, Ericsson, says: “Microwave will continue to help mobile operators achieve a cost effective and high performing backhaul on the road to 5G. There is a momentum around E-band and together with multiband solutions, microwave is well prepared for future requirements.”
The dynamic capacity of microwave links, usage of unlicensed spectrum and an increased focus on energy efficiency are microwave-specific examples of how software-defined networking (SDN) functions can increase overall network performance. SDN drives the need for a microwave node interface standard that aligns with existing packet standards.
Microwave is a very flexible technology and will connect 65 percent of all radio sites by 2021 (excluding China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan). Today it already supports 10 Gbps capacities and very low latencies, and is very well prepared to support the future evolution of LTE and of 5G.