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Extending Mobile Backhaul to Rural & Remote Regions

Today, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people in the world. Voice is still, and will remain, an essential service offering for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). However, the major growth opportunity is in the delivery of data services. Globally, the insatiable demand for more data is being driven by smart phone, tablet and laptop usage for social media, web browsing, and content-rich applications, such as video and games. In some regions, the demand for mobile broadband is so huge it will consume more satellite bandwidth in the next few years than any other application. While, government regulations for universal service coverage will help bridge the digital divide, the requirements for connectivity are further contributing to more bandwidth demand and additional costs.

It is widely acknowledged that the “next billion” mobile-cellular subscribers will be located in rural and remote areas of developing countries. These areas are typically characterized by lower population density, geographically scattered settlements/villages/towns and terrains that are difficult to access.

Mobile Network Operators have a variety of communications solutions to think about when connecting new subscribers. Terrestrial fiber, microwave and satellite all play critical roles in establishing today’s network infrastructure. The costs and complexities associated with satellite communications are not areas where MNOs want to allocate resources. They would rather utilize microwave or fiber for transport. However, given the saturated urban markets, MNOs that want to grow their businesses are strategically exploring the best means to reach rural and remote areas. These areas provide the largest opportunity to expand subscriber base, but are largely not served by fiber and microwave. Therefore, operators are looking to satellite-based mobile backhaul. It can enable instant coverage and provide connectivity to areas with limited transportation access. Satellite is the ideal (and often the only) option to reach subscribers in the rural and remote areas.


Unfortunately, extending mobile broadband intro rural and remote regions does have its challenges. As satellite transmission costs can account for up to 78% of total cost of ownership compared to 10-15% for microwave and urban E1 deployment, satellite can be cost-prohibitive(1). The voracious demand for data requires significant bandwidth, which further drives up operating expenditures (OPEX) and capital expenditures (CAPEX). Today, MNOs are already experiencing significant margin pressure. As rural populations don’t have the same spending power as urban populations, ARPU in these areas will be considerably lower. The result is even more margin pressure and questionable return on investment for operators.

Is there sufficient opportunity to expand into less accessible regions with lower density populations that generate less revenue?

Can you justify the costs of deploying a satellite-based infrastructure in rural on remote areas not served by fiber and microwave?

The costly CAPEX and OPEX to reach rural and remote areas via satellite necessitate the need for cost-effective and efficient ground equipment that can extend bandwidth. With the right ground system technology solutions, you can achieve the OPEX and CAPEX efficiency needed without sacrificing service quality. You can make the business case to expand into rural and remote areas!

As the undisputed market leader in this space, there are more MNOs relying on Comtech EF Data equipment to power their satellite-based infrastructure than any other provider. Our award-winning and patented technologies provide unrivaled spectral efficiencies and optimization to enable operators to fully leverage satellite capacity. The technologies serve as the framework for our satellite mobile backhaul solutions that reduce OPEX and CAPEX, increase service quality and facilitate sustainable and profitable connectivity to rural and remote regions. Examples are:

Technology Benefits
DoubleTalk® Carrier-in-Carrier® Bandwidth Compression
  • Allows full duplex satellite links to transmit concurrently in the same segment of transponder bandwidth
  • Facilitates transponder bandwidth and power savings, and increases availability and throughput
Carrier-in-Carrier® Automatic Power Control
  • Enables modems on both sides of a Carrier-in-Carrier® link to automatically measure and compensate for rain loss while maintaining a fixed PEB
VersaFEC®, Low Density Parity Check Coding & 8-QAM Modulation
  • Examples of our cutting-edge forward error correction and modulation, which can improve performance of error-prone channels
DVB-S2-EB1 (Efficiency Boost)
  • Facilitates 10-35% increase in efficiency over the DVB-S2 standard without increasing power or occupied bandwidth
Adaptive Coding & Modulation
  • Converts link margin to increased satellite link throughput and increases link availability
Integrated Packet Processing
  • Enables real-time traffic and other low priority traffic to seamlessly co-exist on the same link without impacting voice quality or mission-critical data delivery
  • Provides significant bandwidth savings with lossless payload compression and header compression
  • Supports seamless Layer 2 operation with VLAN support and MPLS transport over Ethernet
RAN Optimization
  • Reduces satellite bandwidth required for mobile backhaul & provides complete control over desired level of optimization and link quality
WAN Optimization
  • For IP traffic, total bandwidth required is reduced, user access time is reduced and traffic is shaped to the link’s real-time capacity
Dynamic Single Carrier per Channel
  • Automates bandwidth utilization while optimizing space segment efficiency

Contact us today to learn how our solutions can optimize your satellite links so you don’t need to “think” about satellite.


(1) Euroconsult, Prospects for Cellular Backhaul in Fast-Growing Economies, 2013