Development of broadband data is growing rapidly across the world. In areas lacking fixed broadband infrastructure, mobile networks are expected to play a major role as it has been the case in rural areas where 2G GSM has been the predominant way to provide voice and text services.
Satellite can be used for mobile backhaul when the distance between the base station equipment and the core of the network is too large for microwave to be economically viable.
Backhauling 3G and 4G mobile through satellite brings also new challenges to cope with delay sensitive traffic, synchronization and data throughput and cost performance.
While satellite backhaul for 2G networks were focused on reducing the bandwidth required to transport voice, optimization for 3G/4G focus on data transmission. Available solutions include header data compression, web and video acceleration, and caching.
Typical applications of 3G/4G backhaul by satellite include :
- broadband coverage extension in remote areas
- backup of terrestrial broadband links
- disaster recovery, handling of special event
- offload of microwave backhaul for peak hours traffic
The emergence of a new generation of base stations based on Small Cells (as opposed to Macro Cell) will play an important role on the development of broadband rural networks. Small Cells offer numerous advantages for mobile operators to expand their network in less developed areas such as smaller foot print, low power consumption, ease of deployment, and cost. Analyst forecast twice as many small cell sites than macro sites connected by satellite in 2016.
Figure below illustrate satellite backhaul towards 3G Node B, 4G e-Node B and 3G/4G small cells.