Mobile Base Station Wireless Backhaul Market Set for Robust Growth

According to the latest research by ABI Research, annual data traffic from the top 30 countries is set to surge from nearly 1,100 exabytes in 2022 to over 4,000 exabytes by 2027, representing a staggering compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent.
China 5G base stations
Notably, 5G technology is expected to account for approximately 60 percent of the total data traffic in 2027, driving unprecedented demand for robust backhaul or transport solutions.

5G networks require higher data throughputs and lower latencies, making efficient backhaul solutions essential to support their capabilities. While fiber-optic remains the preferred choice for 5G backhaul, wireless backhaul technology is emerging as a crucial component in many 5G networks. This is due to its cost-effectiveness and flexibility in deployment, especially in areas where fiber deployment is complex. Wireless backhaul also enhances the resiliency of 5G networks when used in conjunction with fiber backhaul.

ABI Research predicts a significant rise in the number of cellular base stations, including both macro and small cells, utilizing wireless backhaul links. The figure is projected to grow from 6.3 million in 2022 to 7.6 million in 2027, demonstrating a CAGR of 4 percent. The E-band, in particular, is anticipated to experience rapid growth, expanding from nearly 400,000 links in 2022 to 2.5 million links in 2027, with a remarkable CAGR of 44 percent.

Matthias Foo, an Industry Analyst at ABI Research, attributes this growth to technological advancements in Microwave and Millimeter Wave (mmWave) solutions. Innovations such as Band and Carrier Aggregation (BCA), Cross Polarization Interference Cancelling (XPIC), adaptive modulation, antenna stabilization technology, and high-powered radios have substantially increased link capacities and distances achievable by various frequency bands. Additionally, a light licensing regime for E-band has lowered costs, making it an attractive option for both standalone and multi-band deployments.

To address spectral congestion concerns, ABI Research expects a gradual migration of existing backhaul links from lower microwave bands to higher frequency bands. This shift is driven by the strong interest in utilizing the 6 GHz band for unlicensed services, including Wi-Fi. Some countries, such as the United States and South Korea, have already adopted license-exempt access to the entire 6 GHz band. The upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference scheduled between November and December 2023 (WRC-23) is considering frequency bands like 6.425 – 7.025 GHz, 7.025 – 7.125 GHz, and 10.0 – 10.5 GHz for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT).

Furthermore, research into even higher frequencies like the W-band and D-band is already underway. Some companies are exploring alternative solutions, including Free Space Optics (FSO) communications and satellite 5G backhaul.

Despite the positive outlook for wireless backhaul technologies, the industry faces challenges stemming from macroeconomic factors. Global headwinds, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the global energy crisis, and chipset shortages are expected to have some impact on the industry’s growth trajectory.

In conclusion, the world is on the brink of a data revolution with 5G technology driving exponential growth in data traffic. As wireless backhaul solutions continue to evolve and adapt, they are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of telecommunications.
Global mobile network data trafficMobile network data traffic grew 33 percent between Q2 2022 and Q2 2023, reaching 134 EB per month, according to Ericsson.

In Q2 2023, the number of mobile subscriptions totaled 8.3 billion, with a net addition of 40 million subscriptions during the quarter.

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by about 100 million in the quarter, totaling 7.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 5 percent

5G subscriptions grew by 175 million during the quarter, lifting the total to close to 1.3 billion.