Ericsson: Microwave will provide 65% of backhaul by 2020

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) predicts that microwave will become the dominant backhaul technology by 2020 with 65 percent of cell sites using microwave to backhaul traffic. The company, which just released it Microwave 2020 report, said that microwave will dominate not only because of the capacity it can offer but also because of the economics and the lack of fiber in certain areas.

Interestingly, the infrastructure vendor said that E band spectrum will be particularly key for backhaul and for fronthaul because it can handle a lot of capacity. E band, which is in the 70 GHz to 80 GHz spectrum range, will represent up to 20 percent of new backhaul and fronthaul deployments by 2020, Ericsson said.

The company also said the growth in microwave for backhaul doesn't mean that fiber backhaul will decline. Instead, according to Ulf Ewaldsson, EVP and group CTO of Ericsson, the requirement for backhaul will be so great that it will be necessary to use more microwave technology to supplement fiber backhaul. Ewaldsson noted that only about 30 percent of the global population is covered by 4G now and that by 2020 that will grow to 70 percent. "We will need stronger backhaul if we want to hit 70 percent coverage," he said.

Interestingly, Ericsson's Microwave 2020 report said that by 2020 operators with advanced mobile broadband networks (such as those in the U.S.) will need 270 Mbps backhaul for about 80 percent of cell sites while 20 percent of sites will need 1-Gig of backhaul and some will even need as much as 5-Gig to 10-Gbps backhaul.

Ericsson noted that high capacity base stations that require backhaul in the 1-Gig range will probably need to use microwave links to able to handle that much capacity. In fact, the company said that microwave will be able to handle as much as 10-Gig in capacity in the millimeter wave by 2020.

For more:
- See this release
- See this report

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