August 17, 2011

Delivery of Timing and Circuit Services using Packet-based Synchronization

As mobile operators migrate to 4G and LTE networks to support the ever increasing bandwidth demands of smartphones and tablets, they are faced with the challenge of supporting legacy 2G and 3G technologies. This migration to packet-based mobile backhaul across 2G and 3G cell sites needs to address the diverse synchronization requirements needed to ensure delivery of both packet-based and circuit services. This paper addresses specific synchronization deployments for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile backhaul architectures using appropriate timing mechanisms to support converged voice, video, data and mobile services over Ethernet.

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Mobile network operators are working hard to keep up with today’s mobile data traffic volumes by transitioning their 2G circuit-switched digital networks to 3G and 4G broadband packet networks. When migrating, however, they reach a point where they must simultaneously support the older 2G networks along with multiple iterations of both 3G and 4G networks.

Supporting multiple infrastructures creates a number of challenges. One is that it requires operators to address the diverse synchronization requirements of both packet and circuit services across their mobile backhaul networks – the network segment from cell towers to the aggregation points at the edge of their core networks. Many mobile backhaul networks are being upgraded to Carrier Ethernet to economically gain the required capacity needed to keep pace with the exploding volumes of user data traffic.

This paper discusses specific synchronization deployments over an Ethernet backhaul. It is not for the technically faint of heart (read: "great for geeks!"). It will be best appreciated by those with responsibility for – or a keen interest in – the back-end workings of mobile operator networks in transition and their specific synchronization requirements.

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