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New Mobile Data and Multimedia Services Demand Urgent Planning for Expanded Backhaul Capacity, according to ABI Research.

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. -- The growth of mobile data and multimedia services over high-bandwidth 3G networks has mobile operators, traditional wireline carriers, and cable companies alike preparing to make critical choices in an effort to expand the capacity of cellular networks. According to a new study from ABI Research, existing backhaul solutions will not have the bandwidth to serve the increased consumer demand for mobile video and other advanced data services.

"The push from these new video and data services, combined with mobile operators' ongoing priority of reducing operating expenses, is making everyone realize that something has to be done soon," says principal analyst Michael Arden.

ABI Research's study, "Wireless Backhaul: Bandwidth Explosion and Emerging Alternatives," assesses the backhaul solutions on the market and the cost of operating and leasing these services.

The study identifies six technology options for cellular backhaul: T1 over copper (dominant in the Americas), microwave and other radio technologies (dominant in Western Europe), Ethernet over copper, Ethernet over fiber, WiMAX, and cable.

"There is general agreement within the industry that Ethernet over fiber will be the long-term solution of choice," says Arden, "but much of that fiber will have to be laid, incurring upfront capital costs. 'How long is long-term?' remains an open question."

WiMAX has been attracting a lot of interest as a backhaul technology, Arden notes, but deployments are limited and mostly on a trial basis.

Regional differences will produce different outcomes, as well. In North America, with its prevalence of T1 running over copper wire, carriers will look for new solutions that leverage existing copper infrastructure, before investing in alternate technologies. Europe, where much existing backhaul has been via radio link, will see a different evolutionary path. Other parts of the world exhibit a more varied mix of options.

Telecom operators have traditionally been the core providers of backhaul services, but new players are now beginning to enter this market. Cable operators are starting to look at using some of the excess capacity in their core networks. Mobile operators wishing to offer services to the enterprise will begin acting as multi-service providers, frequently looking to radio-based solutions. Companies on all sides of the equation are planning their preferred routes to converged services.

"Wireless Backhaul: Bandwidth Explosion and Emerging Alternatives" forms a part of two subscription ABI Research services, IP Networking Research Service and Wireless Infrastructure Research Service, which also include a variety of research reports, industry and forecast databases, regular market updates ABI Insights and analyst inquiry time.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in automotive, wireless, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.
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Date:Jun 1, 2006
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