Mobile World Congress 2012 Day 2

Aviat Networks meets customers at Mobile World Congress 2012

Aviat Networks personnel were busy on Day 2 of Mobile World Congress 2012 meeting customers, analysts and journalists.

So we are halfway done, and the crowds surged today. The GSMA should be pretty pleased with the attendance, with most halls being packed full. We had another busy day in our pavilion, meeting with customers, press, media and analysts, bringing them up to speed with our success in providing proven backhaul solutions for LTE networks around the world.

There has been lots of discussion at the show about small cells and possible backhaul solutions but not much in the way of visible solutions. On the backhaul side 60 GHz point-to-point seems to be the flavor of the month, with NEC launching its new solution, among others. Not long ago E-Band (70-90 GHz) was the favorite, but concerns about OPEX appear to be driving vendors to the lower frequency band, which is license-free, as opposed to the “lightly licensed” E-Band. Whether this actually will make any meaningful difference in the overall cost of providing backhaul for small cells may depend on a lot of factors. What is certain is that it is too early to tell, as many agree that deployment of small cells will still be one to two years away yet, so the best backhaul solutions may still be on the drawing board. All we know is that no single technology will be a clear winner, and that all solutions will need to satisfy the requirements of very low cost, sufficient capacity, size and ease of deployment.

On a similar and related front, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent among others were promoting their new integrated/Carrier Wi-Fi solutions, fresh off the recent news of Ericsson’s acquisition of BelAir Networks. Carrier Wi-Fi promises to converge mobile and Wi-Fi technologies to provide a seamless broadband experience for customers and improve network coverage and capacity as an alternative to deploying new cell sites.

Finally, for those willing to stay late and tolerate the queue into the conference auditorium, Google’s Eric Schmidt gave another thought-provoking and potentially controversial keynote about Google’s vision for the mobile Internet. You should be able to catch a replay on the GSMA’s Mobile World Live website sometime soon.

See you on Day 3!

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A Timely Update on Wireless Security

A Timely Update on Wireless Security

Wireless Security Components

Traditionally, microwave networks have been unsecure—unsecure as far as any purpose-built payload encryption or secure management is concerned. Until recently, it was deemed essential only for the most confidential microwave communications of financial firms, defense agencies and government, where the law can require them. But now billions of people around the world rely on the Internet to deliver varies types of data traffic ranging from personal messages to financial transactions. This value and volume of traffic makes it an irresistible target for cyber criminals. As security measures are implemented in other parts of the network (core, access) it is fundamental to implement strong security measures in microwave networks.

Aviat Networks Strong Security suite for the Eclipse Packet Node microwave radio platform prevents the following attacks on the network:

Front door attack: Traditionally microwave networks have not encrypted their payloads. With many networks transitioning from TDM to IP not encrypting payload traffic is the equivalent “of leaving the front door unlocked.” Hackers, cyber criminals and even foreign governments could try to access the air link using methods such as the “man in the middle” to read unencrypted data streams. Aviat Networks’ solution is to implement Payload Encryption that protects all traffic over the air link including user data and Eclipse management data in the payload.

Backdoor attack: Unsecured NMS can be used to change the radio configuration, sabotage or divert traffic using network management. With Aviat Networks’ Secure Management all Eclipse Packet Node management and control commands are secured over unsecure networks.

Insider attack: Disgruntled employees or cyber criminals that have obtained inside access to the network can use this access to divert traffic or upload malware to the network. Aviat Networks implements complete AAA (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting) capability through a RADIUS server that can be used to prevent, or if happens, track and identify an inside security breach.

Covering all vulnerable areas of a microwave network, Aviat Networks’ Strong Security provides the toughest standards-compliant security protection in the market.

Eduardo Sanchez
Marketing Engineering Specialist
Aviat Networks

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What to Expect from IWCE in 2012

What to Expect from IWCE in 2012As you know, IWCE (International Wireless Communications Expo) is just around the corner (Feb 20-24 Las Vegas) and is the premier event for government, public safety, utilities and transportation.  We are excited to be exhibiting once again at this event.

We can expect to hear about 2 key themes:

1. Public Safety migration to LTE
The introduction of LTE technology into public safety networks is happening now and represents a huge change for state/local agencies.  LTE is a brand new technology for this market and represents a new way of thinking for many folks.  LTE brings new services and applications, different network planning and design assumptions, more capacity requirements, and more IP traffic.  Understanding how to build microwave networks that best support the cost, capacity and mission critical requirements of public safety LTE will be key to building mission critical LTE data networks.  Aviat has unique solutions to solve these complex challenges.

2. Security of critical infrastructure
The current and ongoing migration of public safety networks toward IP/LTE is increasing the opportunities and motivations malicious activity. As the amount of critical data rises in the broadband public safety network, security has become of greater concern.  This will be a key topic at the show.  Again, Aviat has a unique strong security solution which we’ll be talking extensively about at IWCE.  In fact, in addition to the exhibition, we will be speaking on a panel at the IWCE show regarding cyber threats to the public safety network infrastructure on February 23rd at 3:30 – 4:45pm which we would like to invite you to attend.

Please check back after the show for an update on how things went!!

Gary Croke
Product Marketing
Aviat Networks

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LTE – Lessons Learned So Far

LTE - Lessons Learned So FarAviat Networks has been deploying LTE networks for well over a year now to operators globally, including the largest live commercial LTE network in operation today. So, it’s probably a good time to reflect on some key observations and lessons learned to date. Here are the top 3 things we’ve learned from our LTE microwave backhaul deployments that are most notable:

1.    LTE backhaul capacity needs are being easily addressed by packet microwave:

– When it comes to capacity there is a perception that fiber is the only answer. The reality is that based on current LTE deployments, 50Mbps is more than adequate for most LTE cell sites today.  Yet, for comfort and long term growth most of our customers are licensing and deploying 100-200Mbps of microwave capacity to their LTE equipped cell sites. For intermediary sites that aggregate traffic, link aggregation techniques are being utilized to effectively bond multiple channels for higher capacities, all well within the multi Gbps reach of advanced microwave systems, such as ours.

2.    Ease of deployment and fast time to market (TTM) are critical for success:

– This LTE operator quote speaks volumes regarding the real challenge he faces: “Whoever can deliver the quickest with the least amount of pain will win most of the business”. TTM is most crucial for operators trying to stay one step ahead of their competition… more markets served, better coverage etc. To address this, we have seen a growth in our customers seeking a one stop shop approach for LTE microwave backhaul deployment where we engineer, configure, test, and deploy the full end–to-end system, providing overall project management, frequency coordination, installation and a host of other services. The fact that most microwave systems can be installed in a few weeks as opposed to months for fiber, is also playing a key role in microwave growth in areas like North America where microwave penetration is low, but growing as a result of LTE rollout.

3.    Backwards compatibility with multivendor interoperability is key:

– It’s all about LTE, right? Well, yes and no. LTE is driving the new investment and deployments, but the reality is that 2/3G will be around for a long time. So, while the new deployments are driven by all-IP LTE, there are still ‘legacy’ T1/E1s still hanging around that also need to be backhauled. This has been a perfect fit for Aviat’s all-in-one Hybrid (TDM+IP) and All-IP microwave systems, which allow our customers to easily software configure their mix of traffic. So, while the bulk of the transport bandwidth is provisioned for IP to support LTE, some is still reserved for good ‘ole TDM.

– Another related aspect is multivendor interoperability across a variety of product types. The backhaul market has flourished in the last few years as we know, and so has the variety of cell site switches, routers, packet optical devices etc. that our microwave systems interoperate with to fulfill our customers ‘end-to-end’ LTE backhaul solution. Consistent Carrier Ethernet standards applied across both the microwave and fiber core makes this very straightforward when it comes to provisioning Ethernet backhaul services, supporting packet network synchronization, and managing these services.

So, in summary, I would say we’ve learned that packet microwave is well suited for LTE capacity needs; it can be rapidly and easily deployed; and provides great flexibility for legacy services and multi-vendor interoperability. But the best proof of all this is in our customers’ live networks.

Errol Binda
Solutions Marketing
Aviat Networks

Fore more information on LTE microwave backhaul and a customer case study click here.

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Fiber Isn’t Everything: Key Role of Microwave in Mobile Backhaul

Fiber

If fiber is this much of a mess in your wiring closet, just imagine the difficulty of deploying it to your cell site. Image by DrBacchus (Rich Bowen) via Flickr

Last year in August, Aviat Networks presented its argument for why fiber optics technology isn’t everything where backhaul of wireless networks is concerned. If anything, this point has only been reinforced by analyses and anecdotal stories showing that fiber can be overkill for the mobile backhaul requirements of  LTE wireless. Plus, there is the simple truth that fiber cannot be deployed to every cell site due to financial and topological issues. That’s why microwave technology remains the world’s first choice for backhauling wireless networks. So let’s look at last year’s FierceWireless webinar slide presentation and refresh our memories.

These slides present the findings of an Ovum survey of North America’s largest backhaul players to understand their strategies regarding media types used to supply cell-site backhaul.

Ovum found that demand for wireless backhaul equipment in North America will continue to grow as mobile operators upgrade their networks to support higher-speed LTE networking technologies. The most common backhaul strategy for mobile operators in the region comprises leasing services over fiber combined with owning and operating microwave-based facilities. Microwave has a distinct advantage vis-a-vis leased services over the long-term due to the opex associated with leasing.

If you would like to see more, you may register for the on-demand replay of the full webinar. It will also present the latest trends and advancements in microwave transmission technology that support the evolution of mobile backhaul networks to all-IP.

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Wireless Services: Stepping Outside the ‘Box’

Map of Nigeria

Nigeria, in the heart of West Africa, is home to leading mobile operator MTN Nigeria and the hottest wireless carrier market on earth.

Customers are looking for partners who can do more than just provide them with “boxes.” To really partner with customers, sometimes you have to step outside of the box. Providing a comprehensive, advanced Spares Management Program solution to MTN NigeriaAviat Networks’ largest customer and a major Tier 1 mobile network operator in Africa—is a prime example of what can be accomplished when stepping outside of the box.

Challenging Environment

As many are aware, Africa represents a challenging operating environment where on a daily basis mobile operators have to contend with power outages, lack of infrastructure and a shortage of trained personnel. Due to these issues, MTN Nigeria was experiencing significant challenges with its spares management related to its overall installed base of network equipment. This included having more spares than were needed but never having the right spare in the right place at the right time.

Even though the customer had a large supply of spares as part of capital expenditures, it was actually very difficult to keep track of the physical inventory. In this situation, MTN Nigeria asked its suppliers to manage the problem. Each supplier was to take accountability for owning and managing the problem for the customer.

For more, see the complete customer success story.

Ross Gillette
Director of Services, Africa, Aviat Networks

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Hybrid Microwave for Wireless Network Backhaul Evolution

Microwave telecommunications tower, silhouette...

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There is no one-size-fits-all solution for wireless network backhaul. What will work for some operators’ mobile backhaul will not work for others. Many operators have large installed bases of TDM infrastructure, and it is too cost prohibitive to uninstall them wholesale and jump directly to a full IP mobile backhaul. There is going to be a transition period.

The transition period will need a different breed of wireless solutions. Fourth Generation Hybrid or Dual Ethernet/TDM microwave radio systems provide comprehensive transmission of both native TDM and native Ethernet/IP traffic for smooth evolution of transmission networks. They will enable the introduction of next-generation IP-based services during this transition period.

We will explore this category of digital microwave technology for wireless backhaul, which is becoming ever more important as the 4G LTE wireless revolution gets underway with all due earnestness, even while the current 3G—and even 2G—networks continue to carry traffic for the foreseeable future.

Our current white paper builds on Aviat Networks‘ previous April 2010 white paper titled “What is Packet Microwave?” and provides market data from recent industry analyst reports that demonstrate the significant and continuing role of TDM in mobile backhaul networks and some of the prevailing concerns of operators in introducing Ethernet/IP backhaul services.

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Small Cell Mobile Backhaul: The LTE Capacity Shortfall

With immense mass-market demand for mobile broadband services, and emergence of new high-capacity mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) and applications, many of the world’s most advanced mobile networks are struggling to deliver a high-quality consumer experience. Explosion of per-user data consumption, combined with subscriber growth and mobility needs, is putting today’s networks are under tremendous pressure. In addition, as operators continuously evolve networks with the latest technology (e.g., 2G, 3G, 4G) to meet these capacity and coverage demands, network costs are exploding and operators are struggling to keep up profitable businesses.

LTE, representing a 4x capacity improvement over current 3G networks, on its own will be insufficient to address all future capacity demands, as mobile data traffic will double every year equating to a 32x growth by 2014 (Figure 1).

32x backhaul capacity demand jump

Figure 1: The forecast 32x jump in data demand cannot be met alone by LTE, which can only offer a 4x increase over current wireless technologies.

Increasing spectral efficiency with new versions of LTE will help manage the shortfall, but these solutions are not yet available and again will not provide the volume of capacity necessary. Acquiring more spectrum would help but additional spectrum is costly and in most cases not available. Traffic management approaches such as caching and mobile data offloading are emerging to help manage the load but because of limited cache hit rates, these solutions will be insufficient to address the capacity shortfall. Offload techniques, such as in-home femto cells and mobile offload gateways, are emerging to reduce load on mobile infrastructure, but again they will be insufficient. A new approach is required.

Emergence of Small Cells

To meet these capacity challenges, and address ever-prevalent coverage issues, new small cell network architectures are emerging based on a new generation of low power, small cell (i.e., micro, pico, femto) mobile base stations. ABI Research estimates 4 million pico base stations will be shipped per year by 2015. Being deployed into an existing network on lampposts, utility poles and building walls, these base stations offer a way for operators to meet challenges of urban, suburban and in-building locations. Combined with existing base station infrastructure, these small cells are transforming the flat macro mobile network into a multi-level, hierarchical radio access network (Figure 2).

Macro, Pico & Femto base stations

Figure 2: Combined with existing macro base station infrastructure, small cells are transforming the flat mobile network into a multi-level, hierarchical radio access network.

Small Cell Backhaul: Wired or Wireless

When considering IP mobile backhaul options, operators must first ponder the choice between wireline or wireless solutions. There is generally no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and in reality we’re likely to see a mix of mobile backhaul technologies deployed to meet the small cell backhaul challenge. However, because of challenging utility pole and lamppost deployments, operators cannot count on fixed line options (e.g., fiber, cable, copper/DSL) being ubiquitously available. Moreover, more than 40 percent of the world’s macrocell base stations are backhauled wirelessly and because of these challenging locations, we’re likely to see a much higher percentage of wireless-based backhaul in small cell applications.

Wireless Backhaul for Small Cells: Challenges

Small cell deployments present a number of challenges—not the least of which is impact on mobile backhaul. Operators—and equipment vendors—must consider the key factors below when selecting (and designing) wireless backhaul solutions for small cells:

Lower cost solutions needed—Smaller cells mean more cells and thus more mobile backhaul. To meet overall cost objectives, lower cost backhaul solutions will be required to make sure small cells can be deployed cost effectively. Typical macrocell backhaul CapEx is about 50 percent of the total base station CapEx, and similar ratios will be required to ensure a cost-effective solution.

Space-optimized solutions required—To improve street-level coverage and capacity, small cells are being deployed on lampposts and utility poles. These challenging deployment locations place demands on the physical attributes of backhaul solutions. Unlike traditional cellsites, typical dish antennas will not be feasible for such deployments. In addition, because of space constraints and operations costs, backhaul and base station hardware integrated into common enclosures would be ideal.

Line-of-Sight (LOS) not possible—Street level, metro area deployments mean line of sight to backhaul hub locations are not always—in fact—rarely possible. Requiring large antennas, combined with lack of LOS characteristics, makes traditional point-to-point wireless backhaul ineffective for most small cell backhaul applications.

Interference must be carefully managed—When it comes to wireless backhaul solutions, close proximity of cellsites creates possible interference issues for the backhaul system. These interference issues are relatively new for backhaul systems and need to be considered.

High-capacity solutions required—Driven by increasing demand for mobile data, backhaul requirements for small cells are expected to approach macro cell capacity requirements (50-100Mbps per cellsite) in the next three years.

Which challenges matter most will depend heavily on how small cells eventually are deployed. Stay tuned for a followup blog post where I discuss small cell backhaul deployment options and available solutions to address these needs. In the meantime, feel free to leave me your thoughts, or comments.

Gary Croke
Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Aviat Networks

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Smart Grid Wireless Technology Comparison Chart

Cropped version:A worker climbing down an elec...

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Smart Grid is an enabling opportunity for operators to help address energy generation and consumption in an intelligent and efficient manner.

The explanation of Smart Grid solutions in this comparison chart should help to clarify the various choices for wireless connectivity—from access to backhaul, for data or management transmission—using any one or a combination of various technologies.

It compares various wireless technologies for wireless applications related to Smart Grid communications. It also covers general information such as “How to use in Smart Grid,” key advantages and notable weaknesses.

Key technical parameters such as bandwidth, coverage, user data rates and cost are also considered. Microwave, WiMAX, Mesh, LTE, 3G cellular, Power Line Carrier, WLAN and Zigbee are described.

If you like this chart and want to receive a complimentary hard copy version, leave a comment with your name and mailing address (your comment won’t be published). There is an extremely limited number of stock on hand, and we will fulfill as many requests as possible.

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TDD or FDD Wireless: That is the Question!

Relay towers on Frazier Mountain, Southern Cal...

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TDD, or Time Division Duplex, where a single radio channel is used to send and receive data, has been a common technique employed in unlicensed microwave transmission bands, such as 2.4 and 5.8GHz. The advantage of TDD is a simplified and lower cost design, often based upon 802.11 standards. In contrast, FDD, or Frequency Division Duplex, where data is transmitted in one frequency channel and received in another (separated by anywhere from less than 100 to more than 1,000 MHz) has been the staple of licensed frequency bands between 2 and 38 GHz worldwide.

Now, a number of the CEPT recommendations for the new point to point bands over 40GHz contain provisions for TDD operation. TDD is accommodated either as an alternative band plan or a mixed TDD/FDD band plan, in addition to the more common FDD band plan. However, CEPT recommendations are only just that—recommendations. How these bands will be implemented in each country will be determined by the individual national regulatory authority.

Recently, we asked a number of European national regulators about if and how they would introduce TDD operation in these new bands. The general response was that they were not opposed to the introduction of TDD in principle, and that such operation would have to be worked into existing or revised band plans. One complication raised was that spectrum would have to be reserved for guard bands between TDD and FDD segments within the same band. Regulators usually try to avoid having to waste valuable spectrum in this way. Also, once a band plan is established and the spectrum allocated to users, efforts to introduce TDD operation at a later date is extremely difficult.

Some regulators have already issued new national band plans at 42GHz and above, and to date none of these allow for TDD operation. Furthermore, for countries that have allocated new bands through spectrum auction, there we see the usual FDD style symmetric band approach.

Despite the appeal of TDD operation from a cost perspective, early indications are that although provision for TDD operation is being made in these higher bands, practical complications and concerns over maximizing the use of new bands may prevent its widespread introduction.

What are your thoughts on using TDD more in national band plans? Leave a comment, if you’d please.

Ian Marshall
Regulatory Manager, Aviat Networks

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