Sprint’s Xohm and Backhaul Bottleneck

Sprint is blaming a puny backhaul network and a paucity of backend bandwidth for some of the delays with its cursed, WiMAX technology-based Xohm network, which will offer broadband speeds over wireless when it goes live later this year. They might not be alone, as carriers worldwide would have to deal with the problem of a T-1-based backhaul network. AT&T and Verizon say they’ll be fine, that they’ll have ample capacity, but then they aren’t likely to have a nationwide 4G network for some time, so who knows.

A few weeks ago, after having a conversation with John Roese, chief technology officer of Nortel, about 4G Wireless, I came away with the conclusion that as 4G wireless broadband spreads, the biggest bottleneck — and thus the biggest opportunity — will be backhaul. Roese pointed out that bandwidth demand per base station will be closer to 2 Gigabits/second. The solution, experts say, is running fiber to as many base stations as possible.