The Evolution of Cellular Backhaul Technologies: Current Issues and Future Trends
IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
The rapid increase of the number of mobile subscribers as well as the deployment of 3G technologies are putting strain on mobile backhaul operational expenditures (OPEX) which amount to 20-40% of total mobile operator's OPEX due to their reliance on T1/E1 copper lines. For these reasons, the current backhaul systems, a term commonly used to describe connectivity between base stations and radio controllers, are increasingly integrating more cost-effective, packet switched technologies,
... Ethernet/Internet technologies. In addition, Wi-Fi and WiMAX are emerging as promising backhaul solutions and initial findings have demonstrated their feasibility. However, the notion of network migration unavoidably raises new technical challenges relevant to aspects of TDM and packet network timing synchronization, QoS, and packet efficiency. This survey aims to provide a comprehensive study of state-of-the-art circuit switched and emerging packet switched backhaul technologies based on research articles and standard documents. For packet switched backhaul, we focus on the practically important Pseudowire approaches which are used to transport TDM services over packet switched networks. We also discuss the features and research findings on the use of Wi-Fi and WiMAX technologies which illustrate their potential for rapid and cost-efficient backhaul deployment. Finally, we highlight some open issues relevant to timing synchronization in wireless mesh backhaul and femtocells deployments, which offer a rich ground for further research.