Should Enterprises Move to Wireless Backhaul?
Mobile data communications are near ubiquitous in the enterprise, so it’s rare that a firm doesn’t have some form of wireless backhaul in place. It may be as simple as an office Wi-Fi router or as complex as a global wireless network, but the fact remains that wireless is too fundamental to ignore.
In fact, the next phase of wireless communications will likely establish wired’s status as the preferred means of data exchange. As 5G communications push increasingly rich media content over the air, and as the internet of things (IoT) funnels data from millions of connected devices across the globe, the stress on backhaul services will increase dramatically — both in size of the data load and the complexity of the networking environment. Enterprises need to be ready.
High-Frequency Solutions Drive the Wireless Backhaul Market
On the carrier level, last-mile wireless infrastructure is on the verge of a technological renaissance as the increasingly scarce and expensive common carrier spectrum gives way to millimeter-wave technologies and other high-frequency solutions. Mark Ashford, vice president of wireless backhaul provider Cambridge Broadband Networks, explained to RCRWireless News that these services, which typically reside at 28 GHz or higher, are not only cheaper in both absolute and per MHz terms, but they provide much greater scalability than today’s 24 GHz solutions.
At the same time, this is producing a much more competitive wireless environment, as the higher frequencies allow smaller providers to build out their own infrastructure rather than lease capacity from incumbent carriers.
According to MarketsandMarkets, this is expected to boost the value of the worldwide mobile and wireless backhaul market by more than 13 percent per year for the remainder of the decade. In fact, the market will nearly double in size from an already hefty $17.85 billion to more than $33 billion. The increased prevalence of small cell infrastructure in and around the enterprise campus will also draw some of today’s backhaul load from today’s networks, enhancing communications across the board.
Moving to the Wireless Network of the Future
Few organizations will be able to convert legacy wireless infrastructure into an integrated, global environment without help from a knowledgeable technology partner, of course. As with any task of this nature, you have to start with a clear understanding of where your enterprise is now and what its end goals are. This demands a thorough analysis of the devices to be connected and the applications to be supported — after all, a network designed to support voice communications and small-packet data will be quite different from one being tasked with live videoconferencing, cloud-based development processes and fully unified communications.
The network will also have to be both secure and user-friendly in a highly collaborative environment, which means authentication is a key requirement, as is resiliency in the face of inevitable downtime.
It is also important to remember that wireless infrastructure would not exist without wired infrastructure, at least in its current form. While enterprises are quickly lifting data architectures off physical networks and onto abstract, virtual ones, they still need to keep attuned to what’s happening on both the local and wide area network (WAN). This will most likely be done through global WAN and data management systems that leverage increasingly intelligent data analysis and automated control technology to enable seamless connectivity across distributed architectures. And even though wired infrastructure will soon be leased under the same utility consumption models that drive the wireless industry, integration and orchestration issues will still affect the cost and effectiveness of wireless services.
At this stage of the game, going wireless is not an option. The only factors left to determine are the scope and nature of the enterprise’s wireless infrastructure, and management and development tools needed to provide optimal experiences for users. If the transition is managed properly, organizations should find their data capabilities enhanced while both capital and operational costs are diminished.