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Managing backhaul technologies with fewer tools and technicians will reduce operators’ costs

by david.nunes

Managing backhaul technologies with fewer tools and technicians will reduce total cost of ownership for operators, Analysys Mason reports

Need for increased network capacity and backhaul technology is paramount, with worldwide cellular traffic increasing from 570PB per month in 2011 to a forecast 3243PB per month by 2016

LONDON, UK, 16 August 2012 – IP and Ethernet technology provides networks with flexibility to scale up in order to support traffic growth as mobile operators deploy lower-cost IP-based radioaccess technology. Furthermore, growth in mobile data services has also putpressure on mobile operators to reduce their backhaul cost, and many mobileoperators are dealing with the difficulty of assuring quality of service and keeping operational costs under control, according to a new strategic report from Analysys Mason (www.analysysmason.com).

The report, Assuring mobile backhaul networks, contends that key considerations for mobile operators when evaluating suppliers for backhaul solutions include the deployment cost of the hardware, the potential integration of multi-vendor solutions and end-to-end management of the technology. Another principal factor is the service cycle required to manage and maintain the backhaul network until the next technology upgrade cycle.

The report recommends that operators select an operation support system solution that adheres to Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) standards.

“Some equipment vendors, in an effort to move products onto the market quickly, will implement proprietary management solutions for discovery and fault monitoring,” explained Patrick Kelly, lead author of the report and Research Director for Analysys Mason’s Telecoms Software research stream. “This type of implementation actually prevents effective scaling and increases the operational cost for mobile operators.”

The report contends that operators can mitigate this risk by selecting vendors that support MEF-backed standards (specifically, IEEE 802.1ag, IEEE 802.3ah and ITU Y.1731). Network equipment vendors should also look to implement quality-of-service measurement capabilities at network interconnect points,thereby removing the need for network interface devices.

According to the report, the most important factor for mobile operators when they aremaking investment decisions in this area is the total cost of ownership of the IP/MPLS backhaul network and the opex for assuring service. Operators that have standardised their network equipment and management systems to be able to scale effectively with rapidly growing networks have benefited the most in this area.

“A key challenge for mobile operators is how to assure service over backhaul networks,” explained Kelly. “For this reason, a lot of operators are resorting to policy management and control solutions for network protection.”

Kelly added that deep packet inspection probes in the radio access network working together with the policy charging and rules function helps regulate trafficcoming through the backhaul network, enabling mobile operators to avoid network congestion problems.

The report also includes the following.

  • The business environment for mobile backhaul assurance.
  • Challenges and recommendations for operators.
  • Market drivers and inhibitors.
  • Summaries of key vendors – network equipment manufacturers and independent software vendors.
  • A case study of backhaul best practice.

Assuring mobile backhaul networks is available to purchase for USD4999, or as part of a subscription to Analysys Mason’s Service Assurance or Telecoms Software Strategies research programmes. For more information, contact us at research@analysysmason.com or view the report summary: http://www.analysysmason.com/assure-backhaul.

About Analysys Mason (www.analysysmason.com)
Analysys Mason delivers strategy advice, operations support and market intelligence worldwide to leading commercial and public-sector organisations in telecoms, IT and media. Analysys Mason consistently delivers significant and sustainable business benefits. We are respected worldwide for the exceptional quality of our work, our independence and the flexibility of our teams in responding to client needs. The company has over 250 staff worldwide, with headquarters in London and offices in Cambridge, Dubai, Dublin, Edinburgh, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, New Delhi, Paris, Singapore and Washington DC.

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