Leading UK service provider UK Broadband, which has been using Siklu 70 to 80 GHz E-band millimetre-wave equipment in its customers’ wireless solutions, is now putting those same systems to work in backhauling small cell traffic for its central London 4G network.

UK Broadband has built a 4G network across central London that uses a combination of macro and small cells, with fibre as the primary backhaul medium and microwave backhaul to connect the macro cell sites and the fibre drop points. Typically, UK Broadband uses a combination of 42 and 28 GHz broadband, where the company owns spectrum.

The company’s 4G network also incorporates small cells installed on street lighting columns, similar to lightposts but thicker and with less sway. What UK Broadband needed was a cost-effective backhaul solution to be mounted on those columns that would take up very little space.

After ruling out standard microwave links because of their bulky dish size and weight, the service provider looked at Siklu’s EtherHaul-1200 system and after taking its compact size, low cost, and low power requirements into account recognized its potential for small cell backhaul.

“The cost of Siklu compared to standard microwave is very competitive," stated Steve Hobbs, CTO of UK Broadband. "The equipment itself is lower cost, and installing it can be done simply and inexpensively as well. All you need is line of sight to your cell site."

In testing EtherHaul as a small cell backhaul solution, the equipment performed as expected, providing very stable throughput. UK Broadband is using both the TDD and FDD versions of EtherHaul, taking advantage of the strengths of each in different backhaul scenarios. As the company continues to expand the 4G network, the company intends to use EtherHaul across all of their street light column sites where there is line of sight and a transmission distance less than one kilometre.

"This is one more application where EtherHaul is the ideal solution," said Andrew Westerman, Siklu's sales director for Western Europe. "We have been at the forefront of millimetre-wave backhaul design for a number of years, and we continue to innovate to enable operators to deploy mobile backhaul solutions and keep their total cost of ownership low."