Blog Post

Sprint's Xohm and Backhaul Bottleneck

Sprint is blaming a puny backhaul network and a paucity of backend bandwidth for some of the delays with its cursed, WiMAX technology-based Xohm network, which will offer broadband speeds over wireless when it goes live later this year. They might not be alone, as carriers worldwide would have to deal with the problem of a T-1-based backhaul network. AT&T and Verizon say they’ll be fine, that they’ll have ample capacity, but then they aren’t likely to have a nationwide 4G network for some time, so who knows.

A few weeks ago, after having a conversation with John Roese, chief technology officer of Nortel, about 4G Wireless, I came away with the conclusion that as 4G wireless broadband spreads, the biggest bottleneck — and thus the biggest opportunity — will be backhaul. Roese pointed out that bandwidth demand per base station will be closer to 2 Gigabits/second. The solution, experts say, is running fiber to as many base stations as possible.

16 Responses to “Sprint's Xohm and Backhaul Bottleneck”

  1. Business is so strange today. Math and due diligence seems passé.

    Each base station usually has a couple stinking T1s for backhaul (Not good enough for WiMax broadband).
    The upgrade will be:
    Will take a long time to provision the new backhaul lines
    Will require configuration (more time delay)

    Ok, now we have our network up and enormous new costs but NO CUSTOMERS. Adding a handful of business customers with WiMax laptop data cards will not pay for the network. You still need a lot of handsets on the network. I have not seen a single WiMax handset.

    Beg Verizon to buy Sprint
    Fire the employees/consultants that created the farcical spreadsheets showing WiMax short term profitability
    Fire management that believed the spreadsheets
    Hire a new outside management team who can actually implement the transfer of Nextel customers to Sprint
    Punt and go to LTE in a few years

  2. I find T-Mobile’s idea to simply connect several DSL lines to cell phone towers quite nifty. They are experimenting with that for some months already here in Germany. After all they have plenty of DSL bandwith because they belong to Deutsche Telekom.

    Of course DSL is asynchronous, but the download speed is always more important. Also on cell phones.

  3. As the TCP convergence happens, you are going to see that guy with the fattest pipe in the most places will win. The thing that worries me is the digital divide between people who live in wired neighborhoods and those who don’t. Soon the economic, and educational divide will widen between those who live in places that have the infrastructure and those who don’t. (and I live in a place that doesn’t).

  4. Hey, its going to be interesting to watch this issue as 4G (slowly) gets deployed. Everything I’ve seen so far suggests that AT&T and VRZN’s 4G markets will follow their U-Verse and FIOS markets respectively, although how exactly they deal with really dense urban cellsite deployments will be intriguing. There’s plenty more reporting to be done before we get to that stage though.


    Dan Jones
    Site Editor, Unstrung

  5. Well, there is also flex bandwidth management, but most of the SLCs and multiplexers already do that. You can steal and allocate between data channels and the voice channels. this is why new systems sound horrible compared to the first analog systems, and much worse than old IMTS.

    It’s amazing what the LEC can do with dynamic allocation. But, in the end, most of the T1 /PRI circuits made for cell site backhaul will be too narrow. some of MAN wireless solutions are great for this.