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Wireless backhaul represents the largest telecom build-out in the last decade. Mobile operators can’t deploy Ethernet to the cell sites fast enough.
Every wireless carrier is migrating to 4G/LTE with Ethernet backhaul to support the vast increase in data downloads driven by apps on smartphones and tablets as well as the increasing appetite for video by consumers and businesses. In addition to site upgrades, an industry analyst mentioned that AT&T is building out 5,000 new cell sites per year. As we see all around us each day, iPhones and Androids are jumping off the shelf at a record clip.
The build-out reminds me of the emerging telecoms rush to deploy fiber and switches in the late 1998-2000 era; except this time it’s to catch up to customer demand as opposed to speculating on such. There are important engineering and billing impacts of this wireless backhaul expansion.
Given that we sell solutions to many of these problems, I’d love to say, “Stop what you’re doing and go fix your back office,“ but that’s not realistic. The here and now for mobile operators dictates that they run fast and hard — that means deploying broadband to the cell sites as fast as possible.
However, when the dust settles in three years, the mobile operators will look back and find they have a plethora of suppliers and a Rubik’s Cube of Ethernet rate plans to deal with. At that point, there will undoubtedly be a corporate push to groom, optimize and re-engineer those backhaul networks based on actual capacity needs, new pricing and improved supplier agreements.
So what’s our advice? We recommend a two-step sort of military-style strategy: Deploy the troops first, then refine your ground tactical strategy once you’re in the battlefield. Meanwhile, consider the following points:
This article first appeared in Billing and OSS World.
Copyright 2011 Black Swan Telecom Journal