Mobile operators are using new kinds of backhaul systems, specifically Ethernet microwave, to help protect their revenue and keep customers, Infonetics said in its latest report.

Preventing service degradation and offering subscribers more bandwidth is vital as carriers try to keep up with the latest smartphones and services.

"Worldwide, mobile operators and backhaul transport providers are increasing their mobile backhaul equipment spending 15% from 2007, reaching $4.5 billion in 2008. Of the new mobile backhaul connections being added worldwide, Ethernet microwave connections are growing the fastest, jumping from 27% of all new connections in 2007 to 43% in 2008 and ramping quickly over the next few years," analyst Michael Howard wrote.

Microwave is already used in 53% of mobile backhaul connections, but less so in the Americas.  However, operators in North America began investing more in this technology 6 months ago, he said.

By 2011, service providers using traditional backhaul networks will pay 3 to 30 times more in service charges per connection than if companies using coaxial cable, DSL, Ethernet, or PON, he added. 

"We were surprised by the extent to which North American operators are reacting to the need for more capacity by embracing Ethernet microwave... although we've been watching for EFM bonded copper products to appear in mobile backhaul, we found plenty of plans in North America and Europe," Howard told Wireless Week.

"We see that some big name operators are now committing to an IP/Ethernet backhaul with confidence that the timing and clock synchronization technologies for packet networks work well enough that they are willing to go to an all-packet backhaul. This means they will put their time/delay sensitive 2G and 3G voice traffic on the packet network, thus avoiding a hybrid approach to backhaul."

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