MWC 2014 Preview: Fastback Networks unveils intelligent backhaul radio expansion

New class of wireless transport devices enable fibre equivalent performance for high density backhaul with fibre SLAs preserved in both point-to-point and multi-point-to-point architectures

MWC 2014 Preview: Fastback Networks unveils intelligent backhaul radio expansion

Fastback Networks announced the expansion of its intelligent backhaul radio (IBR) product line today (18 February 2014). The new products include support for both multi-point-to-point (M-PTP) and point-to-point (PTP) architectures, Extreme Interference Protection (XIP) features, and the launch of the ETSI-compliant device into the European market.

The IBR enables high density LTE, LTE-A, and the future LTE and Wi-Fi radio access networks, with an industry first transport mechanism for wireless delivery of fibre equivalent services in both line of sight (LOS) and completely non-line of sight (NLOS) conditions.

The Fastback solution is currently in trials with Tier 1 & 2 mobile network and services operators in the US and Europe, and deployed in first office application carrying live traffic in the cities of Los Angeles and New York. The IBR is nominated for Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough for the upcoming GSMA Global Mobile Awards.

"The IBR assures fibre equivalent services over wireless effectively creating fibre fill-in, and enabling mobile network operators to extend the reach of the service edge to provide anytime anywhere access to services," said Kevin J. Duffy, CEO and co-founder of Fastback Networks.

"We continue to expand the features and capabilities of the Fastback product line to enable the Anywhere Service Edge, providing the new requirements for speed, latency, and SLA assurance critical to LTE interfaces, such as S1 and X2, and essential to enabling emerging high density mobile networks."

Multi-point-to-point architectures with fibre equivalent SLAs

With the new M-PTP feature, the IBR delivers multi-point economic leverage while still preserving a fibre equivalent service level agreement (SLA) on each link, an unprecedented capability in a wireless backhaul solution.

This feature extends the IBR’s PTP throughput and latency performance to multiple end points, providing greater coverage with fewer devices for LTE macrocell and small cell backhaul. As well, commercial and wholesale services can aggregate multiple ends points for economic leverage without compromising SLA requirements.

Extreme Interference Protection (XIP

Requirements for high performance LTE backhaul require far more spectrum capacity for backhaul, impacting capacity constraints for licensed bands and creating a challenge for mobile operators. In the past, unlicensed bands were rarely used for carrier grade mobile backhaul because the devices could not effectively mitigate interference.

Now, Extreme Interference Protection (XIP), Fastback’s patented algorithms for interference mitigation, enables the IBR to sustain the high throughput and low latency service requirements of LTE backhaul, while simultaneously mitigating even the severe levels of interference common in unlicensed spectrum.

XIP mitigates the effects of uncoordinated and self-interference to enable new applications of unlicensed spectrum including LTE macrocell and small cell backhaul. The IBR interference mitigation capability enables sustained, carrier grade performance in unlicensed spectrum to a SLA.

This functionality establishes new levels of certainty and reliability for use of unlicensed spectrum, along with the advantages of tapping hundreds of MHz of available 5GHz spectrum to relieve the capacity constraints of licensed bands.

Highest capacity and lowest latency across Any Line of Sight (AnyLOS)

The IBR fuses high performance data networking with advanced radio technology to achieve technical and economic breakthroughs that eliminate previous limitations of mobile backhaul performance.

This new class of wireless device is an integrated carrier-grade switch and radio purpose built for the requirements of the new mobile network. The IBR is designed for high performance (up to 500Mbps), low latency (‹500µsec), and integrated Carrier Ethernet capabilities to support new architecture and traffic requirements of the new mobile network.

The Fastback solution uniquely adapts to line of sight or complete non-line of sight conditions, a capability that Fastback has trademarked, Any Line of Sight. For the first time, mobile network operators can deploy small cells in any location without line of sight or access to fibre constraints, and fibre network operators can assure delivery of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 services over wireless to locations that previously could not be served.

Interview with Fastback Networks CEO Kevin J Duffy

Speaking to Wireless, CEO Kevin J Duffy, said: ‘The industry is worrying less about coverage and more about extending capacity now. Densifying the network to provide more bandwidth per sq area is the key problem for mobile operators. How do they use layers of technology to do this?

‘They are now embracing Wi-Fi, which was a no go area until recently. Now we are looking at LTE and Wi-Fi in the same package at the silicon level to create bandwidth in the sq area.

‘Fibre is still the preferred option for backhaul among mobile operators and it is getting to a lot more places than people expected,’ Duffy acknowledged, ‘but it is still not everywhere. Fibre provides a guaranteed SLA (service level agreement), but how do you replicate that with LTE, which has very strict requirements for speed and handoff time between one eNodeB and another?

‘When you can’t get fibre, the first option is LoS microwave, but now NLoS is the next thing. The mobile networks have been designed for fibre, so if you are providing a wireless alternative you have to meet the strict requirements and latency issues of eNodeB in LTE networks that fibre can.

‘This is the area we sought to address with products that solve a very hard data networking problem and a very hard radio problem,’ said Duffy. ‘Our IBR product is less like a macro cell underlay and more like a fibre fill-in. It provides that fibre equivalent performance and it is LoS and NLoS capable.’

Fastback opted to use the 5GHz unlicensed spectrum, where there is plenty of capacity available – it doesn’t cost the operators anything to use and keeps precious licensed spectrum free for other uses. 5GHz is a spectrum band generally avoided by mobile carriers until recently because of the interference issues.

Hence, the development of Fastback’s XIP, or Extreme Interference Protection, which is designed to mitigate interference problems to sustain the high throughput and low latency service requirements LTE backhaul demands.

‘The Fastback IBR just changes the way it manages the signals,’ said Duffy. The units have dozens of arrays of antenna elements with bends and folds in them (unique to the company), which Duffy describes as being like having a lot of access points or scouts all reporting back.

‘We have 22 processors onboard our system-on-a-chip. If an obstruction gets in between the IBR’s line of sight, we can maximise the environment no matter what is in the way – that is what it makes it very dynamic and hence why we call it intelligent backhaul. The 22 processors manipulate frequency, time, space and cancellation as objects go by,’ explained Duffy.

The Fastback AnyLOS system features integrated switch and radio features, including synchronisation devices. ‘You don’t need separate devices for switching or synchronisation, as you do with traditional macrocell sites. We have combined and compressed all these into one box,’ said Duffy.

‘Fibre fill-in for backhaul is a problem for mobile operators and this is where the next battle is - below the roof and tree line – to extend the reach of the service edge,’ asserted Duffy. ‘The marketing is shifting from LoS tower-based technology to small, nimble, integrated high performance packages. As access technology moves to smaller packages, it is about bandwidth per sq area and fibre in-fill and we stand in the middle of that.

‘We think there is an opportunity here to provide small cell backhaul as a service. This is a very important, but understated issue: how do you extend the evolved packet core (EPC) out to where the access needs to be? You need infrastructure, so you provide small cells backhaul as a service. That solves a radio problem and you can also sell SLAs to different operators. We have multiple ports, so we can provide services to different operators all with different SLAs,’ said Duffy.

The key applications for the Fastback solution can be summarised as:

  • Macrocell backhaul upgrade to improve capacity and optimise performance
  • LTE/Wi-Fi small cells to provide extended coverage and capacity and customer enterprise services anywhere
  • Commercial and wholesale services enabling operators to reach new customers and offer backhaul as a service.


The ETSI-compliant IBR will be available beginning in the second quarter of 2014. The M-PTP capable IBR will be available in the third quarter of 2014.

A Mobile World Congress 2014 event, Intelligent Transport Shaping Mobile Operator Backhaul Strategies, on Wednesday 26 February 2014, Barcelona, will bring together mobile operators, mobile service providers, and technology providers to address the transformation of backhaul in the emerging 4G/LTE network, and the Fastback solution impact.

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