Converged microwave router for cellular backhaul in Africa

12th December 2014 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

The converged CTR microwave router integrates legacy time-division multiplexing, Ethernet and Internet protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) network layers to enable cellular base stations to be multifunction hubs for delivery of new services, says network equipment company Aviat Networks South Africa technical marketing manager Siphiwe Nelwamondo.

Microwave backhaul, which transmits aggregated data from base stations to the core of the network for further routing, is widely used in Africa, as the comparative alternative is fibre- optic cables to backhaul data from base stations.

However, fibre optics is expensive to install and is not viable for base stations in remote and rural areas. Deployment of fibre optics requires surety of demand and significant data volumes.

“Microwave is quicker and less costly to deploy as a backhaul system than fibre optics and Aviat Networks’ CTR router can provide speeds up to 4 Gb/s, satisfying most commercial and industrial uses.

“Also, the CTR router provides all the aggregating, routing and transmission processing in a single box, from Layer 2 Ethernet to Layer 3 IP/MPLS, meaning that there is less equipment on site, reducing complexity, cost, power and cooling required.”

The key functionality of the CTR router is to enable network operators to provide current and legacy services, while ensuring that new IP/MPLS services and bespoke services for specific customers can be provisioned on a single converged router-microwave transmitter.

Users can provision new virtual routers for customers remotely on any layer and the entire CTR system is software-enabled, which reduces administration, network management and time to provision the services, leading to better customer services and experiences.

“Users can create a separate virtual router for each client, enabling them to provide additional customised services for every client. This is a valuable function in Africa, where service providers and network operators can provide legacy, current and new services as demanded by customers.

“The CTR router caters to the flatter, modern IP-architectures, including new long-term- evolution (LTE) telecommunications standards. This enables more efficient use of bandwidth and the provision of modern, bespoke services,” says Nelwamondo.

About one-third of Aviat Networks’ business derives from Africa, and the CTR system provides network operators with the ability to scale as and when demand grows.

Fixed line penetration in Africa is less than 10%, while mobile telephony technology in Africa is the fastest growing globally.

“The system also integrates fibre optics and microwave transmission and can be deployed in highly developed, modern networks, as well as providing new functionality to existing older mobile networks. Our CTR system is aimed at providing modern functionality for mobile operators’ networks in Africa.”

Aviat Networks reports good demand for the CTR system and expects that it will be installed for backhauling traffic for new base stations, delivering new services to enterprise customers, as well as to upgrade base stations to deal with increasing demand and use, concludes Nelwamondo.