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Mobile Backhaul by Esa Metsala, Juha Salmelin

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2.3 Drivers for the MBH Network Change

Higher and More Bursty Transport Load

Major traffic load for the 2nd generation mobile networks was, and is, voice – and that is often carried in a low bit rate format. For example, in GSM networks only 16 kbit/s is typically used per voice channel between the base station and the controller sites. Thus transport capacity required per base station site in these networks is very modest, in rural areas often only a fraction of a 2 Mbit/s link, and also in many city areas just a few 2 Mbit/s lines are needed (n*2Mbit/s, n = 1...4). In this type of network it is often possible to build such a high backhaul transport capacity that it is possible to carry all the traffic base stations are able to provide.

However, backhaul capacity needs are changing dramatically, and has already changed a lot: mobile data is growing fast and is already the major application in many 3rd generation mobile networks. And the growth of data traffic is just accelerating (see Table 2.1). This is supported by the further increase of mobile network capacities with new technologies and network generations, such as HSPA and HSPA+ and LTE.

Table 2.1 Examples of mobile data growth in 2010 (Source: Cisco VNI, 2011).

Region Mobile Operator and Content Provider Examples
Korea • From mid-2009 to mid-2010, KT recorded a 344% increase in 3G mobile data traffic, SK Telecom's traffic grew 232%, and LG's traffic grew 114%.
• KT expects a 49-fold increase in mobile device traffic ...

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