The escalated Radio Access Network (RAN) data rates for 4G networks are placing new demands on infrastructure and supporting hardware, requiring significant bandwidth upgrades (anywhere from 50 to 200 Mbps) to base stations and the backhaul layer. Aside from capacity, another less apparent impact relates to the shift to higher operating frequencies, which due to increased losses associated with diffraction, refraction and absorption negatively impacts cell coverage.

Currently, "micro-cellular" networking structures are being developed to combat the reduction in cell area at higher frequencies. For instance, in downtown urban-canyon environment, the base stations have to be moved off roof-tops and brought down toward street level, creating new design challenges. In this month's MarketWatch, Erik Boch, CTO & VP of Engineering, Dragonwave, looks at changing hardware requirements for high capacity wireless backhaul for microcellular deployments. Visit