4G network offload: RAN and backhaul

Tom Nolle/CIMI Corp.
28 Feb 2011

One of the most profound challenges of broadband services for network operators is the growing disconnect between traffic growth and revenue growth.

For mobile operators, it threatens to destabilize new service planning by reducing the return on wireless infrastructure investment.

Usage-based pricing may offer some relief, but it may be a difficult remedy to apply in a competitive market, and regulatory intervention may limit or even prevent it in some areas.

As 4G wireless network services offer higher bandwidth per-user than earlier generations and could result in even more traffic, operators are eager to find ways to reduce the cost of handling that traffic without impacting their competitive position. The answer may be getting wireless traffic off expensive wireless networks quickly using 4G network offload.

Offloading 4G network traffic focuses on two areas—the radio access network (RAN) and mobile backhaul.

· The goal in the RAN is to find alternative connection strategies for appliances with high data use, especially tablets and laptop dongles, that could congest cells and degrade service to other customers.

· The goal of mobile backhaul network offload is to quickly transfer internet traffic to the wireline Internet, getting it off of any premium backhaul paths that require a higher investment per bit because they are architected to support premium services. Hairpinning -- routing traffic in and out of 4G backhaul networks to support roaming users -- should be avoided for low-revenue data handling.

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