Main Scenarios where satellite is the preferred solution for MNO
Satellite backhaul: the preferred solution for Mobile Network Operators
MNOs use different technologies for backhauling their cellular base stations. Whether it is fiber, microwave or satellite; the satellite was always considered as the preferred backhaul solution for rural and isolated sites. The reason for this is evident, either it is not feasible or too expensive to use terrestrial backhaul and whenever rapid deployment is required. In addition, the evolution of mobile networks to LTE/5G that include small cells deployment makes the use of satellite backhaul even more attractive.
It is also worth mentioning that satellite backhaul has become even more attractive over the last years because of the capacity cost reduction from High-Throughput-Satellites (HTS) now in orbit, Satcom equipment cost reduction and efficiency improvements. This paper presents the main scenarios where MNOs will greatly benefit from using satellite backhaul.
Satellite backhaul today is not only a highly competitive cost effective solution, but also has multiple advantages such as scalability, constant availability, flexible deployment and immediate implementation that will be shown below.
Use Case Advantages
Rural and isolated areas base stations
In this scenario a base station or small cell is in a rural remote area. Our analysis shows that using a single-hop satellite link from the core to the cellular site is a practical and cost-effective solution in comparison to microwave backhaul. There are significant OpEx and CapEx savings because of the number of the required hops, especially where there are no intermediate sites required to provide service. For example, a direct satellite to base station approach does not require erecting intermediate masts for the microwave hops, dedicated power, frequency channels leasing, maintenance, etc. The more intermediate hops are required, the more the appeal of the satellite alternative.
Another advantage of using satellite backhaul is relevant for areas prone to electricity outages. Microwave backhaul requires power for each individual terminal along the path to the designated site. Contrary to that, satellite backhaul requires a power solution only for the designated site. In addition, satellite terminals have low power consumption allowing cost effective off-grid solution at the cellular site.
When fast deployment is important (Faster time to revenue/Fulfilling the deadline obligations)
A satellite terminal can be installed in 1-2 days, while microwave requires real estate agreements, radiofrequency licensing, towers constructions and radio planning per each microwave tower along the path, it might take months until connecting the designated site.
Initial investment constrains
Microwave backhaul requires higher initial CAPEX versus satellite backhaul. The estimated CAPEX for satellite backhaul can be one-third of the microwave CAPEX.
Coping with deployment uncertainties
When using satellite, the TCO is coupled to the number of your paying customers.
Since the satellite resources (OPEX) are shared between all sites, you pay only for what is consumed. With Microwave the TCO is fixed regardless of the actual usage/revenue per site. In addition, satellite terminals can be easily relocated to another site allowing deployment flexibility.
Satellite is a reliable backup for any other technology regardless of topography, especially for the terrain with difficult access. In the contrary, each additional microwave hop is an extra potential point of failure, raising the probability for site downtime and customers’ churn.
IN REAL LIFE SCENARIOS SATELLITE IS EVEN BETTER
- Rural / Semi-Rural sites will require at least 2 intermediate microwave hops
- Owning towers would add ~$50K-$150K per tower, in the case of microwave dedicated tower
XXXX at XXX, a leading mobile operator: “Today, Satellite backhaul is the preferred solution not only for rural and isolated sites, but also for sites which require a lot of microwave hops. It allows controlling OPEX since we pay only for the capacity that we used and to reduce investments due to smaller CAPEX. Also satellite backhaul is cost-effective and convenient when experiencing electricity challenges. Satellite backhaul enables fast deployment, resiliency (versus microwave which introduces an extra point of failure with each hop) and flexibility since it is easy to relocate.
We utilize HTS AMOS-17 satellite for our needs because it suits perfectly to our demands and allows us to provide an excellent service to our customers in Africa. AMOS-17’s country-wide coverage guarantees us reliable backhaul even in the most remote places. C-band beam provides weather-resistant service, which is extremely important for the African continent. In addition, beam per country allows to keep the traffic inside the country and to achieve a high efficiency”.
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