Whether wireless operators choose microwave backhaul as their primary network or as a supplement to a fiber optics network, one thing is becoming clear: Copper lines and T1s won't be enough support data-heavy mobile traffic as the market moves to 3G and 4G networks.
Each microwave backhaul link can typically support up to a gigabit per second, analysts said. By comparison, legacy copper cables deliver about 4 Mbps -- perfect for voice and maybe email, but not for streaming video or music.
"(Microwave) will definitely be picking up steam just because of all the data rollout. There just isn't enough capacity to transfer all that data, so they have to come up with something. You can't trench (fiber everywhere), so you're going to have to use microwave," said Emmy Johnson, founder and principal analyst of Sky Light Research.
The microwave backhaul market will have a 15% combined annual growth rate over the next five years in North America, she said. It was a $480 million industry at the end of last year.
"Microwave is a reliable technology. … You can take packets over microwave. You can TDM voice over microwave. There are a ton of options and it's a very small footprint," Johnson said. "Typically, microwave can handle the data. "
Back to part 1: When urban microwave backhaul makes sense for wireless operators
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