SDN for mobile backhaul could save $4bn by 2017

Software Defined Networking (SDN) to boost the efficiency of mobile backhaul
SDN could reduce the cost of mobile backhaul.
SDN could reduce the cost of mobile backhaul.


The use of Software Defined Networking (SDN) to boost the efficiency of data traffic on backhaul networks could save mobile operators in the Middle East and Africa $162 million a year by 2017, according to research from Strategy Analytics.

The research, which was sponsored by networks specialist, Tellabs, indicated that mobile operators globally could save more than $4 billion in capex by 2017 by using SDN for backhaul networks.

The savings stem from five key SDN applications for mobile backhaul networks. These savings can help close almost half of the $9.2 billion “backhaul gap”, according to the study.

As mobile data traffic grows, the investment required to meet users’ experience expectations escalates. The “backhaul gap” is the difference between required backhaul investment and planned spending. The earlier report found that a capacity shortfall in backhaul networks has already begun to build. The “backhaul gap” may reach 16 petabytes globally by 2017.

To evaluate SDN’s impact on mobile backhaul investment, Strategy Analytics researched five SDN applications. SDN will have the greatest impact in metro aggregation/load redistribution, local breakout/internet IXP, small cells, Ccoud RAN and Wi-Fi offload/video redirect, the research indicates.

The largest single saving in capital expense value terms will come from metro aggregation/load redistribution, which could contribute savings of $96 million in 2013, rising to $1.1 billion in 2017.

In terms of geography, Asia Pacific is the region facing the most significant backhaul funding shortfall. Asia Pacific stands to benefit most from SDN with estimated capital expense savings of $2.6bn in 2017. Etsimated savings for other regions are: North America - $599 million; Western Europe - $574 million; Central & Eastern Europe - $112 million; Caribbean & Latin America - $89 million.

“Until now, we’ve seen too little quantification to support SDN business cases for service providers,” said Dan Kelly, Tellabs CEO and president. “The Strategy Analytics report provides solid evidence and examples to demonstrate SDN’s true value to customers.

So far, SDN has been used to optimize data center resources and service platforms in the cloud. Recently, operators have tested SDN applications for operational network elements. Applying SDN to transport and backhaul optimisation is so new that standards work began only recently.


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