Home Asia-Pacific III 2014 All that glitters… could be copper!

All that glitters… could be copper!

by Administrator
Stephen CookeIssue:Asia-Pacific III 2014
Article no.:11
Topic:All that glitters… could be copper!
Author:Stephen Cooke
Organisation:Genesis Technical Systems
PDF size:407KB

About author

Stephen Cooke is the inventor of DSL Rings® and Founder, President and Chief Technical Officer of Genesis Technical Systems.

With more than 24 years telecom experience, Stephen’s specialties include innovation in optical networks and access infrastructure, as well as business models and customer solutions.

Prior to founding Genesis in 2005 Stephen was Vice President of Telecom Services at National Technical Systems, the largest independent testing organisation in the United States. This followed roles that included: Nortel Account Manager for Chatham Technologies, Transmission Engineering Manager at Nortel Networks, Senior Software Test Engineer at Fujitsu and System Design Authority at Bell Northern Research.

Stephen has a B.Eng., from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and is co-inventor on the DSL Rings patent, Shared DSL Network and Deployment Method.

Article abstract

Despite the rapidly changing technological landscape, Asia-Pacific operators know it is important not to lose sight of the technology already in place.

Full Article

The global mobile telecommunications industry is in the midst of another generational change, and Asia-Pacific is no exception. Over the last few years, the region has shown an insatiable appetite for innovation and technology, making it a hub of activity and a magnet for global enterprise and investment – particularly when it comes to telecommunications. However, growth and success brings its own challenges, in particular, how to meet the demand for capacity.

As 4G continues to outdate 3G, operators in the Asia-Pacific region are considering backhaul infrastructure developments to ensure their networks will have the capacity to deliver the massive increases in bandwidth demand and changing geographical patterns of data use.

The Cisco VNI Mobile Data Forecast predicts that global monthly mobile data traffic will increase tenfold from 2013 to 2018. In 2012, the monthly data usage in the Asia-Pacific region stood at just 281 Petabytes, but it is estimated that by 2017, it will have increased massively to 4,442 Petabytes.

The escalating use of mobile data is driven by the transition to smartphones, emergence of wearable devices, 3G and 4G deployments and increased video usage. While operators are keen to apprehend content and delivery revenues associated with mobile data growth, they also recognise the challenge of developing networks that can accommodate ever-increasing future consumer demands.

A 2013 Strategy Analytics study, commissioned by Tellabs, proposed that mobile operators were looking at a global backhaul investment shortfall of US$9.2bn and capacity shortfall of 16 Petabytes by 2017. The bulk of these deficits – US$5.3bn and 9.4 Petabytes correspondingly – is expected to be within the Asia Pacific region.

Providing backhaul to individual cells is becoming an increasing challenge for mobile operators due to the rising demand for bandwidth. Backhaul was already a demanding issue in a 3G world, but the rise in 4G RAN deployments only serve to amplify this challenge. While fibre, with its ability to provide virtually unlimited data throughput, is deemed the obvious solution to tackling the backhaul issue in an ideal world, it is by nature a very costly option and one that is often hard to justify financially and commercially.

Fibre is not only expensive to deploy, but also disruptive. Installation of fibre networks often require extensive civil works, which typically cost several times more than the fibre itself. In the developed world, installation of fibre networks can be priced anywhere between US US$40,000 and US $250,000 per kilometre. More commonly, mobile operators lease fibre from a fixed operator, but even at a lower rate, it still proves costly at up to US $7,500 per month, for an OC-3 lease of 155Mb/s capacity.

Microwave is another option and one that has been relied on heavily by operators in the past. Though high-bandwidth microwave solutions are increasingly capable, like fibre they are also expensive, and more importantly only an option in areas with a line of sight. This is a requirement that is often hard to find in the built-up urban and suburban areas that thrive in Asia. The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 746m in 1950 to 3.9bn in 2014, yet despite its lower level of urbanisation, Asia is home to 53 percent of the world’s urban population.

There is a growing realisation in the industry that copper still has a major role to play in releasing the backhaul bottle-neck. After all, copper-based connectivity has been the basis of many backhaul solutions in the past and has stood the test of time. While it is unlikely to be practical or commercially sustainable in meeting backhaul demands in its basic leased E1/T1 form, evolving technologies that enhance and stretch copper’s capabilities. A great example of these technologies is bonding which give operators an affordable option to upgrade their existing copper networks to meet these growing demands.

Copper bonding is a technique whereby multiple twisted pairs of copper are reconfigured to become a single ‘fat pipe’ that can meet the higher demands of today’s users. Some copper solutions can reliably provide over 150 Mb/s downlink capacity over 1.5 kilometres on copper which, configured as E1 lines, was previously only capable of 24Mb/s.

Revolutionising copper to reduce the backhaul bottle-neck is a very affordable solution in comparison to fibre and microwave. It not only enables operators to receive a quicker and higher return on their existing infrastructure investment, it is also rapid and straightforward to set up – saving operators both time and money.

Although the technological landscape throughout Asia is constantly changing and developing, it is important not to lose sight of the technology already in place. With the capability to deliver fibre-like throughput, bonded copper solutions can provide enough capacity to accommodate the rapidly increasing data traffic volume demand, especially in suburban areas where growth is strong and copper readily available

The business case for copper bonding is very clear. The copper is already in the ground, so there is no cost or disruption relating to civil works. There is no capex for fibre or new antennae – just an mBond rack-mountable unit at the cell and the local exchange and most importantly the cost comes in at under US $15,000 per cell, including installation.

While the world has moved on from copper and any new construction will be destined to house fibre, in all the locations where copper already connects a cell or is available to connect a cell, it must make more sense, both financially and commercially, to consider the use of bonded copper.
Capable of delivering the same bandwidth as an OC-3 line (up to 1.5 km out), bonded copper can do the work of fibre, at a fraction of the cost – and can be installed in a fraction of the time.

Operators from South East Asia are already trialling these solutions.

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