Mobile network upgrades of up to $840bn required over next five years

Juniper Research has found that mobile network operators (MNOs) must increase capacity and intelligently optimise their backhaul networks over the next five years if they are to meet the increasing demands of mobile broadband users.

According to the new mobile research report, operators need to spend almost $840 billion globally over the next five years in order to address serious bottlenecks in their backhaul networks.

As a result of the rapid uptake of subscriber data services and advances in data capacity in the radio access network, operators need to rapidly reassess their mobile backhaul requirements and ensure that current or future backhaul network offerings fulfil those requirements.

The report found that existing backhaul networks, based on legacy technologies, are not capable of supporting the forecasted increase in both data users and data traffic. Choosing the right technology, or the right combination of technologies, will be a key part of minimising capital costs. According to report author Nitin Bhas: “As many operators are either deploying 3G or augmenting/upgrading their network to 4G, they need to simultaneously manage the upgrade of their backhaul networks with the upgrade of their radio networks.”

The report found that microwave and fibre will dominate the backhaul market with microwave accounting for over 60% of the global mobile backhaul capacity by 2016. Microwave backhaul will be driven by high adoption levels in markets including Latin America, Central & Eastern Europe, Indian Subcontinent and Rest of Asia Pacific.
Other findings include: By 2016, operator expenditure in Far East & China will reach $233 billion, driven by fibre backhaul deployment; In North America, Juniper envisages fibre to overtake copper as the most adopted access technology compared to traditional adoption rate of copper; Microwave’s contribution to mobile backhaul capacity in the Indian Subcontinent is set to reach almost 87% by 2016.