When we did our first piece on next-generation backhaul back in 2007 operators were in the process of deploying HSPA and 1xEV-DO Rev A. And while they recognized that mobile data usage was growing, these operators had no idea what would lay in store for them in the coming years. Nonetheless, these operators also recognized the importance of eventually migrating their networks to include some form of next-generation backhaul that would replace their existing TDM infrastructure. At the time, there was also a lot of concern regarding the maturity of the various solutions that were available so there also wasn’t any rush to make the transition.

Fast forward to the here and now and operators are feeling the pinch and taking a more aggressive approach with their backhaul strategies. If for no other reason, these operators realize that in order to scale their backhaul network to keep up with the high-capacity backhaul links that are required with HSPA+, Mobile WiMAX and LTE, they will need to deploy some form of an Ethernet backhaul. The question, or should we say questions, then become, what does it really mean to use an Ethernet backhaul, what underlying physical medium is best positioned to deliver that capability, what are the pros and cons for the various solutions that are being proposed, and what are the various network architectures that are being considered?