Future Options for Efficient Backhaul

19 May 2006

Purpose of the study

The aim of this study is to investigate new ideas for lowering the cost of backhaul in wireless communications for example to cellular sites or W-LAN nodes. It aims to cover the current state of the art, identify new and emerging technologies in backhaul, compare the relative costs and likely applications and identify where convergence is likely. It might also put forwards novel approaches to solve the problems identified. The work should bring together developments spanning the many backhaul technologies available such as passive and active fibre systems, copper, microwave, free-space optics and wireless mesh networks.

Benefits identified through this study would be accrued by operators and end-users alike.


Backhaul is increasingly becoming the constraining factor in high data rate modern communications systems. For example it is commonplace for many Wi-Fi nodes capable of data rates of 54Mbits/s to be backhauled through ADSL connections of perhaps a few Mbits/s. Ubiquitous, cheap backhaul would allow better spectrum reuse and hence more efficient overall use of the spectrum.

Work items to be studied

  • A short literature search / study establishing the current state of the art and likely trends in backhaul across all wired and wireless backhaul technologies.
  • An investigation into possible architectures for backhaul in future communication systems indicating where and how backhaul might change in the future and identifying likely requirements for backhaul for future application areas.
  • A detailed investigation into future developments across all technologies identifying possible new ideas and techniques. This is expected to form a significant part of the study work.
  • Production of a roadmap for future backhaul technology, identifying what possible routes are available to ubiquitous, low cost backhaul and the likely timescales. This should take account of technology hurdles and the possible solutions that may be develop to mitigate these. It should predict backhaul costs over the next 10 – 20 years.
  • A short comparison of the backhaul needs and future direction with other nations for example the US or European and Asian states.

End date: December 2006