E band spectrum needed to boost microwave capacity, says Ericsson

New report Microwave Towards 2020 argues E band (70-80GHz) spectrum is the key to handling fronthaul and backhaul capacity increases for mobile networks

E band spectrum needed to boost microwave capacity, says Ericsson

A new report from Ericsson argues that E band (70-80GHz) spectrum will play a key role in providing the capacity required to meet the increased demands of both mobile network backhaul and fronthaul.

The latest edition of Ericsson’s Microwave Towards 2020 predicts several major developments in millimetre wave technology by 2020.

Firstly, microwave technology will support multi-gigabit (Gb) capacities in traditional frequency bands and beyond 10 Gb in the millimetre wave E and V (60GHz) bands. E band spectrum will be key in catering for capacity increases in backhaul as well as fronthaul. In addition, microwave planning will begin to include multiband use.

In the coming years, the choice between fibre and microwave in backhaul networks will not be about capacity, but fibre presence and TCO, Ericsson believes. However, despite the need for E and V band spectrum, the company said it foresees that microwave spectrum will continue to be the dominant backhaul technology.

In 2020, 65% of all cell sites will be connected by microwave solutions; markets such as China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan that have existing deep fibre investments will be the exception.

Microwave backhaul technology is already able to handle 100% of all radio access sites' capacity needs, both now and in the future. By 2020, the technology will have evolved to support multi-Gb capacities in traditional frequency bands and beyond 10 Gb in the millimetre wave.

Karolina Wikander, Head of Microwave, Ericsson, said: "Microwave networks are a vital ingredient for operators to provide the best possible performance and quality of experience in the most cost-efficient way, and will continue to be the dominant backhaul technology in the future. Capacity needs will continue to increase on the road to 5G, and keeping up requires continued technology evolution and re-imagining network efficiency."

E band spectrum will prove key in catering for capacity increases in both fronthaul and backhaul. The E band will experience major growth and will represent up to 20% of new deployments in 2020, Ericsson predicts. Traditional bands will represent 70% of new deployments in 2020.

Ericsson foresees a paradigm shift in microwave planning, with the introduction of multiband use. A seven-time capacity increase can be achieved using a wide, low-availability link in the E band to boost a high-availability link in traditional bands.

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