Know your Cellular Backhaul

Know your Cellular Backhaul

Wireless carriers increasingly need greater bandwidth capacity to support new services and demand for connectivity in more places, and nowhere is the trend more apparent than in the cellular backhaul market. The growth of wireless data traffic means network operators need bigger pipes to connect local networks back to the Internet. A few years ago, pulling a bundle of T1 lines to a cell site might have been enough. Now, it’s not uncommon to connect multiple 10 Gig pipes to a single site location.

Numerous wireline providers are quickly ramping up their backhaul offerings. However, while these third-party providers can help you significantly from a capacity standpoint, they also introduce new complexity into the network management process. Because a greater portion of the network ends up outside of a wireless carrier’s control, it quickly becomes more difficult to monitor end-to-end performance and plan out incremental upgrades.

In order to maintain performance levels and stay ahead of capacity demand, you need to be able to monitor activity across the entire network path. This includes monitoring all data traffic and creating threshold alerts at every network link. If traffic exceeds a set threshold, an automatic alert can give you warning before demand overload becomes a problem and with enough time to plan out any upgrades that are needed.

When working with backhaul providers, make sure your partners can meet necessary service level agreements. Detailed traffic reports at every backhaul site offer assurance that capacity demands are not only being met in the moment, but that there is room for growth in the future. And by feeding these reports into a larger performance management system, you can eliminate visibility gaps and ensure a high-quality experience for subscribers.

Particularly as advanced services like voice-over-LTE are introduced (reportedly, AT&T will begin rolling out VoLTE later this month) – with strict latency requirements and high expectations for quality of service – performance visibility is a critical factor in operational success. Even when partnering with backhaul providers, you need to have accurate, timely, and reliable performance reports. Your wireless network doesn’t end at the cell site; neither should your performance monitoring strategy.