While 5G is certainly one of the hottest topics within the wireless community, what exactly the 5G standard will entail remains largely undefined. There's certainly more than just speculation, as a number of industry veterans like Nokia and Verizon have been deploying trial networks and full-fledged transformations in anticipation of a future characterized by 5G. But many of the challenges related to network planning, testing, and in particular backhaul, are still being figured out.
That's exactly why the leaders in the global telecom community will be convening at 5G World in London from June 13-15. Our team will be on hand to lend our perspective on where the industry must focus to meet the lofty expectations of widespread 5G deployment within the next few years.
In particular, I will be part of the panel “Hetnet 2020 & Next Generation Backhaul” on June 15th at 12:35 p.m., discussing the complex considerations that will go into assuring fronthaul, backhaul and Xhaul across a myriad of different network architectures once 5G is officially on the scene.
Adapting Fiber to a 5G Future
The evolution of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), for instance, is going to be a key issue for MNOs in assuring these services, especially in North America where fiber is already prolific and used for existing wireless technologies. Businesses will need to look at adopting network configurations and technologies that can not only support backhaul, fronthaul and Xhaul for new wireless standards, but maintain assurances for legacy wireless technologies in order to meet existing customer SLAs.
Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON), for instance, have been taking up rapidly in North America when it comes to assuring next-generation backhaul on FTTH networks. This is because they meet the key requirements of being scalable for future topologies — i.e. CRAN — while delivering enough bandwidth for QoS and QoE monitoring for legacy tech.
MmWave as a Building Block for 5G
While fiber is prolific in North America, this isn't the case internationally. In locales untouched by fiber, the mmWave spectrum -- which is considered a primary building block of 5G access — will need to be leveraged to meet backhaul throughput requirements. This is hardly an ideal scenario, however, as it has the potential to put a crunch on the already crowded spectrum that operators use to make 5G delivery possible. Under this scheme, the spectrum would have to serve double duty as both a means for 5G access and backhaul.
In rural areas, however, where there isn't interference from spectrum-sharing technologies like WiFi, mmWave backhaul can take place on both licensed and unlicensed parts of the spectrum — that is, until more wireless technologies enter the area and force backhaul providers to seek alternative means.
It's at this point that network performance monitoring becomes critical for MNOs, because even unlicensed spectrum can be used for WiFi capabilities that drain its capacity for backhaul services. Operators therefore need constant insight into what factors are affecting their networks to understand what technologies make the most sense for assuring they meet customer SLAs. This is true for fronthaul, backhaul and Xhaul in any context, as reporting for SLAs needs to be on parity for new and old equipment, regardless of the wireless technology it serves.
Join us at 5G World to see how we fit into the equation and can provide the monitoring and testing solutions necessary for an array of network topologies as 5G starts to become a reality.