For anyone performing cell backhaul, there’s a new specification for handling wireless data traffic from a combination of traditional TDM networks and packet-based transport technologies as wireless operators migrate from 2G/3G to 4G and LTE services.

The Broadband Forum has just issued its “Technical Specification for MPLS in Mobile Backhaul Networks,” also known as TR-221. MPLS is a means by which service providers can converge their TDM, Frame Relay, ATM, Ethernet and IP network services into a single multi-service environment.

TR-221 focuses on the applications of MPLS technology in a range of services that may be used to transport wireless traffic in the access and aggregation networks, including IP, TDM, ATM and Ethernet.

It defines the global requirements of MPLS technology in these networks in respect of encapsulation, signalling and routing, QoS, OAM, resiliency, security, and synchronization. It also covers expected services over the backhaul network, including voice, multimedia services, data traffic and multicast traffic, such as multimedia broadcast and multicast services (MBMS).

Adherence to these requirements will create global standards for MPLS-oriented equipment, establishing more network interoperability, speeding deployments and lowering the overall costs of the backhaul network, the Broadband Forum said.

Defining a range of reference architectures for MPLS-based mobile backhaul networks, TR-221 includes specifications for the various transport scenarios applicable to all mobile networks (2G, 3G and LTE). It also specifies the equipment requirements for the control, user and management planes to provide unified and consistent end-to-end transport services for mobile backhaul.

Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum, said: “TR-221 is a critical part of establishing multi-vendor interoperability in converged MPLS-based backhaul networks. As mobile operators look to preserve their investment in traditional TDM and ATM networks whilst developing their 4G/LTE architectures, TR-221 will enable them to integrate new packet-based MPLS technologies into their established networks. Operators will be able to evolve their networks to be faster and more efficient to meet the increasing multimedia needs of the mobile user, whilst preserving a lower cost per bit in the backhaul network.”