Report: High-capacity microwave is a key enabler for 5G
With 5G bringing in new possibilities for operators across the globe, a higher capacity microwave backhaul becomes even more important to ensure high-quality mobile broadband. This year’s Ericsson Microwave Outlook report discusses how this demand can be met with advanced microwave technology, spectrum, combination with fiber, and machine intelligence.
With 5G fast becoming a reality, microwave is also evolving as service providers require new solutions to meet rising demands for capacity in a cost-efficient way. The latest microwave technology offers wider channels, higher modulations, higher frequency spectrum and multi-band solutions. Microwave radios are equipped to meet future requirements set out by more advanced radio access networks.
Hans Mähler, Head of Microwave Systems at Ericsson says: “Service providers have the option of deploying varying amounts of New Radio (NR) spectrum and advanced radio features. That will increase the spread of needed backhaul capacity in a 5G network. We also see an ongoing shift in backhaul to future-proof frequency bands to support the introduction of 5G.”
Mähler adds that the combination of fiber and microwave solutions remains a winning backhaul strategy for evolving 4G and developing 5G networks.
“Microwave backhaul is a cost-efficient way to handle backhaul needs for LTE and 5G. Advanced microwave offers higher capacity and performance levels that to date was only believed possible for fiber solutions. Fiber is not the only option for building transport networks for 5G,” Mähler says.
Exactly when and how to launch 5G will be decided nationally for each operator. What they will have in common is the importance in securing spectrum not only for access but also for backhaul.
With the introduction of 5G, the interest in E-band is high, as it already provides up to 10Gbps for even the most extreme dense urban sites. But capacities are constantly growing in all parts of the network, from urban to rural areas. So, the next major threshold to reach is 10Gbps everywhere. This report looks at how 10Gbps can be reached not only for shorter distances but beyond.
Other report highlights include:
- 5G NR will bring a new backhaul option called Integrated Access and Backhaul or self-backhauling, which will enable faster, more flexible and very dense deployment of millimeter wave radio access sites at street level without the need for a denser transport network.
- E-band is not only becoming an essential backhaul band of high global alignment but, together with the 32 GHz band, will help aid the transition to 5G from other microwave frequencies. Operator trials, such as with A1 Hrvatska in Croatia, are proof of the value of E-band and multi-band as tools to increase backhaul capacities over longer distances.
- Machine Intelligence offers techniques that leverage the expertise of microwave planners and engineers, allowing for management of larger, more complex and efficient microwave networks.