back to article Hey cellcos: Guess who's got your backhaul still? That's right. Big daddy BT

One of the things that will not be answered by any amount of discussion about 5G is how the huge increase in bandwidth expected in next generation cellular gets backhauled. But at Faultline we have assiduously tracked the ownership of fixed line assets throughout the US and Europe, anticipating the rising cost of backhaul to …

  1. wyatt

    Not quite sure what I'm reading in this article. BT own the majority of the backhaul network and are rolling out services which use it? We know this.. Fibre is being deployed via the FTTC rollout, perfectly placed to provide access to this reducing the distance/need for the copper network.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Boffin

      I think the important bit is the C-RAN stuff. There's some wiki-info on it here. It appears to be The Next Big Thing(TM) in mobile data.

      From a quick scan of that article it sounds like the radio signals are piped to the cloud (sampled analogue?) where they are processed and converted to their actual payload. That offers various advantages which I can't quite get my head round at the moment :)

      More info here (PDF).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        The Fujitsu paper is a very nice map/translator on the subject matter.

  2. SW10
    FAIL

    Check facts, reconsider wild assertions

    Crippling debt forced BT to sell off its own mobile operation O2, to Telefonica, in 2004

    Er, no. BT spun off its mobile operation into a company called mmO2 in 2001. This was a decision that was taken by shareholder vote, not management alone.

    The Telefonica takeover of O2 came later.

    seen largely as the worst mistake in its history.

    Really? By whom? You're just making stuff up, aren't you?

    Have you looked at the relative performance of BT, O2 and Vodafone shares since the spinoff happened?

    How would you have solved BT's 'crippling debt' if they were to have kept BT Mobile and thus avoid the worst mistake in its history?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

    About a year ago, my phone was connected to a newly installed Rogers tower with a solid 3G signal. It was in the middle of nowhere, beyond rural into the Canadian hinterland. The data rate was abysmal, connected, but so slow (~20 kbps) that I couldn't actually do hardly anything. Then I realized that there was almost certainly no high speed connectivity from the tower back to civilization. They were almostly certainly using several phone lines to provide connectivity, including (it seems) a dial-up modem for data.

    I can't be certain, but it's the only explanation that fit the observations. Given the known lack of high speed connectivity in that area, it makes sense.

    Presumably they later finished installing their own microwave backhaul. Once they'd installed more towers.

    1. Adam Jarvis

      Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

      I'm sure its similar with many 3G/H+ and 4G cell towers in the UK, especially in rural Wales, Scotland / or upgraded 2G towers). Subscribers don't understand that the signal type shown on their phone i.e. '4G' only describes the connection between the Phone and the Mast. Beyond the mast, its backhaul can be anything, and often is.

      Often said, Ofcom in the UK should verify all cell tower backhauls to make sure its of sufficient capacity to handle the maximum simultaneous workload of each tower. There should be a website where you can check the current throughput of your local tower, after all its a 'pinch point'.

      I'm sure its a can of worms if Ofcom actually looked into it.

      1. Skoorb

        Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

        Yup, this can especially be a problem when usage spikes due to a lot of people being in the area, a big event etc. A good chunk of the cell base stations are designed with enough backhaul capacity to just about cope with normal usage, so when anything spikes upwards it all grinds to a halt. In some cases, this can (and does) occur with calls and texts if enough people try to use their phone at the same time.

        Even planned events in urban areas, like sporting fixtures, can effectively take out the cell network in a large area when everyone tries to use their phone at once.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: when usage spikes due to a lot of people being in the area

          Or in a tourist area whose network is sized closer to the year-round population but whose userbase expands massively during tourist season.

          I changed networks after being in such a situation and an MMS message took several hours to send. It's only a short term solution though and I'm going to be in that situation quite a lot.

      2. burgers22

        Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

        "Subscribers don't understand that the signal type shown on their phone i.e. '4G' only describes the connection between the Phone and the Mast. Beyond the mast, its backhaul can be anything, and often is."

        No, it describes the end to end network, which is from the phone/mobile device to the core network, you can't have a 4G connection from the phone to the mast/basesite using a 2G connection from the basesite to the core. You are correct that a 4G signal indicator does not equate to a fast end to end system, you can support 4G over a small bandwidth back-haul and have a bad user experience and throughput.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

        "Ofcom in the UK should verify all cell tower backhauls to make sure its of sufficient capacity to handle the maximum simultaneous workload of each tower. "

        Why? Why do you want to make my mobile phone bill higher than it is already by increasing network costs to deliver higher capacity I'll never use?

        Capacity management as it relates to demand is one of the key determinants in making a profit or making a loss. Fully equipping everything regardless of demand is a good way to go broke. That's been true since the dawn of telecomms.

        The actual outcome of your proposal would be to see marginal sites shut.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

          So, what call failure metric would you suggest, and what level of call failure should be acceptable before a penalty is issued or an operator's licence is revoked? Because the current situation (the cellcos get away with whatever they want) is clearly just silly.

        2. Adam Jarvis

          Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

          The networks are advertising something as '4G/LTE', this gives the network an advantage in the market by doing so, therefore the throughput should live up to the marketing and always be greater than 3G/H+ at all times, otherwise its a misleading claim.

          Therfore, advertising something as 4G/LTE speeds, those claims should be validated by checking all backhaul capacity of each mast, especially older rural ones where a legacy backhaul could remain. Obviously the way round this, is to use 'upto' but in the UK use of 'upto' (4G speeds) has been banned by Ofcom in the FTTC / Superfast Broadband advertising stakes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rogers' 3G towers backhauled over twisted pair ?

            "The networks are advertising something as '4G/LTE', this gives the network an advantage in the market by doing so, therefore the throughput should live up to the marketing and always be greater than 3G/H+ at all times, otherwise its a misleading claim."

            Then your £25 a month line rental just became £250.

            I think most people are clever enough to realise that they'll only see higher speeds in urban areas and that a more basic service will be on offer rurally.

            I'd rather have a poorer service rurally than none at all, which is what your proposal would deliver.

  4. david 64

    Extending Layer 1 into the cloud. The spook's dream.

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