To this day, copper-based T1/E1 circuits dominate mobile base station site backhaul, complemented by the use of 6-38 GHz microwave links when copper circuits are either unavailable, too costly, or take too long to deploy.
As 4G capabilities are added to today’s urban 2G/3G networks or are rolled out as green-field deployments, cell site backhaul and aggregation network requirements are rising from the tens and hundreds of megabits/second into the gigabits/second of capacity range. Low cell-site fiber penetration rates, coupled with often prohibitive costs of new fiber lateral deployment, drive the adoption of "wireless fiber" 80 GHz backhaul solutions, as a technology upgrade for both copper and microwave backhaul solutions.
Unlike copper circuits and leased fiber services, 80 GHz solutions scale in performance up to the multi-gigabit performance range, without incurring a corresponding increase in operator costs. 80 GHz solutions provide highly-available connectivity at typical urban backhaul distances and feature sufficient capacity to simultaneously support legacy TDM and rapidly-growing IP packet traffic.
With worldwide adoption of the 80 GHz spectrum band underway, 80 GHz links are well-positioned to fulfill a critical enabling role for emerging 4G mobile deployments and provide an economical alternative to operator-owned fiber.