The deployment of 3G wireless services is resulting in increased bandwidth demand at cell tower locations and taxing the practical limit of copper T-1 usage.Consumers are becoming more and more dependent on their wireless handsets as a portal to their wireless lifestyle. Wireless providers are becoming increasingly frustrated with high bit error rates, copper pair count limitations, lightning and power surge vulnerability, and capacity limitations of copper T-1 technology.Numerous industry polls point to "poor service" as the single biggest reason consumers switch wireless companies. Couple that fact with the additional fact that 50 to 80 percent of cell site outages are caused by problems in the local loop. Since backhaul services are usually outsourced to local service providers and the cost of this service is one of the largest recurring charges a wireless provider pays, wireless carriers are already looking at new technologies to reduce the service and financial impact of leased backhaul.Industry analysts peg the wireless backhaul market is expected to be more than $2 billion in 2006 and twice that figure four years later. In order to protect this revenue stream, incumbent providers must move quickly to provide better, more economical service to their wireless customers.Optical fiber, already used in every other segment of the network, provides instant and ready relief from all these issues. The virtually unlimited bandwidth offered a cell site by a multifiber optical cable also provides the additional benefits of lightning resistance, smaller size, and economy. This paper provides information on the economic benefits of replacing copper T-1 circuits with preconnectorized optical fiber cable assemblies. The paper provides a generic recommended bill of materials and compares the total installed cost of providing optical fiber backhaul to both pre-existing and new tower locations to the cost of copper T-1 service.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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