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Small Cell Backhaul: Is Your Network Ready?


Small Cell backhaul networks have significantly different deployment challenges compared to macro networks, yet they require the same level of performance assurance.

The cost savings of these approaches are clear. Using a Smart SFP device costs a quarter of the price of using a traditional NID, while the built-in responder costs are one-eighth of the traditional NID price.

These performance assurance mechanisms overcome the key challenges specific to small cells – namely, cost, size and location – while providing operators the ability to ensure quality of experience across their expanded transport networks in conjunction with small cell deployments.

The NGMN Alliance has recognized the need for performance monitoring in the small cell backhaul network: “Finally, and given the rising importance of end-to-end QoS, it is also desirable that the adapted transport solution provides the means to verify on-demand and/or pro-actively monitor packet delay, jitter and loss rate over the backhaul network segment. For this, standard protocols (e.g. ITU-T Y.1731 and TWAMP/OWAMP (RFCs 5357, 4656)) are preferred.”

Ready for anything: Today’s small cell deployment and tomorrow’s network requirements

A reality of complex backhaul networks is that performance will vary depending on many criteria such as network loading, environmental impacts (especially for wireless systems) and time of day. On-going monitoring on the small cell backhaul network is critical for ensuring both service performance levels and making traffic routing decisions in order to optimize the deployed network.

By embedding performance assurance functionality into the small cells or other access network elements, operators can confidentially and cost-effectively turn up thousands of small cells and continually monitor the backhaul service. And by virtualizing this functionality, operators will also be prepared to meet the strict performance requirements of future network implementations, such as self-organizing network (SON) and voice over LTE (VoLTE).

Small Cell backhaul networks have significantly different deployment challenges compared to macro networks, yet they require the same level of performance assurance. Since conventional performance assurance methods are too costly in a small cell environment, operators need new ways to monitor performance. Network planners can overcome these challenges by incorporating service assurance functionality into the small cells themselves either by using hardware features in an SFP device or via software agents embedded in the device, which will ensure that the small cells can be reliably verified at service turn-up and continuously monitoring during service operation. With such a virtualized solution, operators will be ready not only to deploy small cells, but also to pursue the next phase of their RAN evolution strategies.



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