Microwave to remain key backhaul tech despite rise of fibre, says Ericsson

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Microwave will continue to be the dominant backhaul technology, Ericsson has claimed, as the technology evolves to support multi-gigabit capacities towards 2020.

The vendor's latest Microwave Towards 2020 report said multi-gigabit speeds will be supported on the traditional bands, with speeds of more than 10GBps on the E and V millimetre wave bands. The former, which sits between 70GHz and 80GHz, will be used to meet backhaul and fronthaul demands. It will account for 20 percent of new deployments by 2020.

While fibre will bite into microwave's market share within the backhaul market, the technology will not dominate by 2020. Ericsson said operators will make the choice according to how much fibre is available and the total cost of ownership.

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The vendor predicted that by 2020, 65 percent of all cell sites will be connected by microwave technology, down from around 65 percent today. It said fibre-rich countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will be the exception.

Karolina Wikander, Head of Microwave, Ericsson, commented: "Microwave networks are a vital ingredient for operators to provide the best possible performance and quality of experience in the most cost-efficient way, and will continue to be the dominant backhaul technology in the future.

"Capacity needs will continue to increase on the road to 5G, and keeping up requires continued technology evolution and re-imagining network efficiency."

A recent report by IHS found operators are increasingly turning to ethernet connection for their microwave links, because of falling demand for time division multiplexing.

More than half of those surveyed said they expected to have more than 5,000 microwave links in their networks by 2017.