Optimize Mobile Backhaul
Improve subscriber quality of experience and network efficiency by ensuring this vital resource performs at its best
The backhaul link is a vital component of mobile networks, but in many networks the backhaul actually contributes to less than optimal mobile service.
Whether in a ring, a star, or some other architecture, the mobile backhaul link is a shared resource relied upon by many mobile base-stations. Each of these base-stations has its own unique characteristics, and the dynamism of mobile traffic creates unique challenges.
In particular, a mobile backhaul link is optimized by considering several specific use cases (and in all cases the solution must take into account the special characteristics of mobile networks, including dynamic capacities and demand, and normal packet loss resulting from radio behavior):
- Optimizing for multi-access networks: Each new ‘generation’ of mobile access can easily overwhelm the previous one, in terms of data volume. Since LTE, 3G, and 2G networks often share a common backhaul, the result is that 2G is overwhelmed by 3G and LTE, and 3G is overwhelmed by LTE. Optimizing the backhaul for multi-access networks ensures each access type has enough capacity to deliver a good subscriber quality of experience.
- Assuring quality of VoLTE services: VoLTE needs certain quality guarantees to work as designed, but not all elements in the network understand the LTE standards; the backhaul plays an important role ensuring that VoLTE traffic is marked appropriately in ways that the other network elements can understand and act upon.
- Taking control of TCP: In many network engineering and optimization initiatives, the transport layer is often overlooked—but that is a mistake! Taking control of TCP lets mobile providers optimize TCP performance for their network environment, which leads to dramatic improvements in a range of key performance indicators, including latency, retransmissions, and efficient use of valuable radio spectrum. Plus, in environments where backhaul and access resources are shared between mobile operators, TCP acceleration ensures you can optimize your own network without conveying any advantages to your competitors.
- Managing access resource buffers: When a high capacity infrastructure (e.g., a 10 Gbps ring backhaul) is connected to a smaller capacity device (e.g., a 50 Mbps radio link), the buffers of the lower capacity device are frequently overwhelmed. This condition, known as ‘buffer bloat’, can cause exponential increases in network latency and a spike in packet drops. Buffer management prevents this scenario from unfolding.
- Preserving vital services during emergencies: In emergency situations, priorities change—mobile network operators can prepare for these scenarios by creating traffic prioritization profiles that are only used in catastrophe scenarios. For instance, these profiles could prioritize messaging and communications services while strictly limiting entertainment applications.
- Minimizing crowd effects: Many events can draw a crowd. Some are planned and in known locations (e.g., concerts and sports events), allowing mobile operators to plan infrastructure accordingly, while others are spontaneous. In both cases, mobile providers can benefit by considering the crowd effect on the shared backhaul link. For instance, without appropriate network management, a crowd that spans a few base-stations can severely degrade performance for all base-stations sharing the same backhaul, even if the crowd itself is geographically distant.