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Satellite backhaul solution delivers capacity and cost-efficiency to mobile operators
For cellular operators, a major barrier to expanding service in low density and rural areas has been the prohibitive cost of backhauling traffic over terrestrial facilities, whether using microwave, fiber or cable. And the ever-growing demand for video-centric content by customers using a plethora of personal devices, along with Cloudbased applications, further raises the bandwidth challenge. Forecasters from Ovum, a global telecommunications research firm, predict that this growth in subscriber traffic will result in a 34% increase in 3G/4G cell sites. Providing cost-effective backhaul is now at the top of the priority list in justifying business cases to meet this growth. Next generation High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) and associated ground networking solutions such as the Hughes JUPITER™ System now being deployed globally present operators with a viable path to profitable expansion, which otherwise would not be possible using terrestrial backhaul.
The Business Case for Satellite Backhaul
In planning for any network expansion, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) start with their customers’ needs and usage in mind. Cellular traffic patterns can be variable, with quiet periods and periodic traffic bursts. In regions with great variability, an MNO is best served by a flexible backhaul solution capable of allocating adequate bandwidth to meet traffic demands.
The Hughes JUPITER System can assign bandwidth in this way, dynamically responding in real-time to traffic flow. This approach makes use of multiple TDMA return channels in a capacity pool so that all cellular base stations can access it on demand. The capacity gains occur because peak busy hours happen at different times; not all sites peak at the same time. Consequently, the shared pool is available to different cell sites when they need it. The result is that with the JUPITER System, traffic from multiple cell sites can be statistically multiplexed to achieve capacity gains of 5-10x as compared to dedicating bandwidth for each site. An advanced return channel capability is also available and allows the JUPITER System to provision dedicated traffic to a site. (A typical use case might be an airport location where the cell site has a constant high-traffic profile.) The operator can even change from a TDMA return channel that supports bursty traffic to a TDM return channel that allocates all capacity to that site and vice versa.
For MNOs, this type of backhaul strategy is more cost-effective than investing in a system that provides dedicated bandwidth that goes largely unused. It is also more flexible because it enables an MNO to respond to the way traffic on their network behaves—and as patterns evolve and change. In addition, deployment is simple since JUPITER VSAT terminals can be installed to backhaul traffic from virtually anywhere cell site towers are placed.
A Range of Strategic Options
With the JUPITER System, deployment options are numerous. For example, Reliance Jio in India is the world’s first mobile network designed and deployed using only 4G technology. Reliance operates two JUPITER System gateways which support satellite backhaul of more than 1000 4G/LTE Cell sites located in areas where there is no terrestrial connectivity. As other examples, Omantel in Oman operates a Hughes satellite backhaul solution for 100 3G cell sites; while Vodacom in the Democratic Republic of Congo employs a similar solution for 1100 2G cell sites that provide basic voice and data services.
As these deployments illustrate, MNOs can tailor a solution to meet their individual market’s needs. For MNOs that may be apprehensive about operating their own network, Hughes also offers fully managed services, from network planning, design to operation. Regardless of the scenario, a cellular satellite backhaul solution powered by the JUPITER System offers MNOs an adaptable, scalable, and cost-effective path to 3G/4G connectivity and network expansion in any and every market they serve.