5G’s Surprising BFFs

Group of young people with smart phones, digital tablets and laptop

By Chris Pearson

IAB, HFC, PON, Radio-over-Ethernet, and WDM, Join the Backhaul Game — 

There were approximately 82 5G networks around the world as of summer 2020, a number that’s expected to grow to 206 by the end of 2020. As 5G networks continue to expand, so will the density of cell sites needed to power them. Furthermore, the growth of 5G by enterprise and consumer growth is robust with 5G connections expected to grow to well over 1 billion by the end of 2023.

When it comes to building networks, there are many things to consider. Some of these include power, capacity, and overall data throughput demand. According to Ericsson, global total mobile data traffic will grow by a factor of 4 between the end of 2019 to 2025 — from around 38 exabytes per month in 2019 to 160 exabytes per month by the end of 2025.

How will wireless network operators be able to manage all of this data?

One key ingredient is having enough licensed spectrum, but the other is network densification. Network densification is the process of adding more cell sites to increase the amount of coverage and capacity on a network. In order to do so, the network must have a data connection at the cell site that brings together information that the radio access network (RAN) receives over the air from mobile devices, run through series of signal and data processing in the RAN, and managed all the way back to the core network.

To keep track of this data, network professionals use the terms backhaul, midhaul and fronthaul to designate of which parts of the network the data are connected. These designations can get challenging because there are several ways in which the 3 key elements of a RAN may be placed geographically.

Learn some creative strategies to help with 5G backhaul.

Originally published on isemag.com November 1, 2020