Cellular / Mobile Backhaul Capacity

- capacity issues affecting mobile or cellular backhaul systems, how to determine what is required and how this affects technology choice.

One of the key elements of any cellular backhaul system is its capacity.

The cellular backhaul capacity needs to meet the expected needs for the base station or other link that it serves, otherwise the data that needs to be transported will either be delayed or lost.

The backhaul capacity requirements pay a large part in determining the overall solution. As the investment in backhaul of a complete network is large, and also the cost of adding further capacity is large, it is essential to install the required capacity at the beginning.

One of the major factors that governs the type of mobile backhaul capability needed is the capacity expectations. When deciding upon the backhaul solution, it is necessary to estimate the maximum traffic that will be carried by the cell. Similar but different calculations are needed for the backhaul system between the BSC or RNC and the core network.

To estimate the capacity required for the mobile backhaul solution, it is necessary to look at the capacity for the radio access network, i.e. the radio interface with the mobile phones, seeing what the maximum capacity and likely usage is.

Backhaul capacity requirements for various systems

As cellular systems have developed from their early 2G GSM technologies, the requirements for data backhaul have rapidly increased as data usage and radio access network capacity and capability has increased. Using the basic system details it is possible to estimate the maximum backhaul requirements.

The cellular network capacity is dependent upon a variety of factors:

  • Bandwidth available.
  • Spectral efficiency of the cellular system.
  • Number of sectors being served by the base station.
  • In some cases whether voice or data is being carried.

Knowing the system of system, its bandwidth and other factors it is possible to estimate the typical capacity of the radio access network and hence the cellular backhaul capacity required.

Approximations for Cellular Backhaul Capacity Requirements
Cellular System Voice
Voice Spectral Efficiency
Data Spectral Efficiency
Bandwidth Required (Mbps)
GSM 1.2 N/A 0.52 N/A 1.3
EDGE 1.2 2.3 0.52 1 6,1
HSPA N/A 5 N/A 2 21.0
LTE (5MHz) N/A 5 N/A 3.8 39.9
LTE (10MHz) N/A 10 N/A 3.8 79.8
Capacity assumes 70% peak usage, & three sectors per base station

By Ian Poole

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