Analyst Coverage

The Future of Routing in 4G Mobile Backhaul Networks

Oct 23, 2014


It's only since HSPA and 1xEV-DO began to deliver on the promise of mobile broadband in 2006-2008 that the case for packet backhaul with Layer 2 switching or Layer 3 routing evolved from being considered bizarre to becoming a no-brainer. The transition triggered the first deployments of conventional, high-capacity provider edge routers at points of aggregation, together with smaller form-factor cell site router product types, as well as out to each individual cell site. 

Trends in telecom networking point to an upcoming inflexion point in the evolution of the role of routing in the backhaul network. This has the potential to impact the demand for dedicated routers and the positioning of both incumbent and new-entrant vendors in this market space. Many of the drivers of demand for dedicated routers show no signs of abating: Mobile data traffic volumes continue to increase substantially; new macro, micro and small cells continue to be turned up in greater volume; new performance requirements are being introduced via VoLTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A). Moreover, fear of the complexity and cost of using L3 in the access layer of the backhaul network, while still present in some developing markets, is subsiding just as surely as it has in the core and aggregation layers over the last several years.