Wired Access Backhaul vs. Wireless Access Backhaul: What’s the Difference?


As dependence on high-speed data networks continues to grow, there is an increasing need for both wired and wireless access backhaul solutions to provide reliable and efficient connectivity for a wide range of applications.

In this blog, you’ll learn more about the differences between wired and wireless access backhaul, how each works, use cases, and where Trenton’s solutions come into play. 

What is access, and what is backhaul? 

Access refers to the part of the network that enables end-user devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers, to connect to the network and access its services. It is the link between the user equipment and the network infrastructure.

The access network provides the last-mile connectivity and encompasses the technologies and equipment that facilitate the wireless or wired connection between the user devices and the wider network. It can include various components such as base stations, antennas, routers, switches, and cables.

Backhaul refers to the part of the network that connects the access network to the core network. It provides the transport of data traffic between the access points (e.g., base stations, access routers) and the central network infrastructure, which can be located in a data center or a network operations center.

Backhaul links are high-capacity connections that carry large amounts of data traffic from multiple access points to the core network.

What is wired access backhaul?

Wired access backhaul refers to the physical network infrastructure that connects access points or base stations to the core network or the internet. It serves as the link between the access points and the backend network infrastructure, enabling the transmission of data between devices and the central network.

Wired access backhaul utilizes wired connections, such as Ethernet cables or fiber optic cables, to provide high-speed and reliable data transfer between the access points and the network.

Wired access backhaul is commonly used in various scenarios, including cellular networks where base stations are connected to the core network through fiber optic cables or microwave links, and Wi-Fi networks in which access points are connected to Ethernet switches or routers via Ethernet cables.

How does wired access backhaul work?

Wired access backhaul operates by establishing physical connections between network access points and the core network infrastructure. These access points act as communication hubs, facilitating the connection between user devices and the network.

To enable this connection, wired access backhaul is implemented. The access points are connected to the core network through wired links, typically using fiber optic or Ethernet cables. These cables serve as the medium for transmitting data between the access points and the central network.

When a user device, such as a smartphone or a computer, connects to a network, it communicates with the nearest access point. The access point receives the data from the user device and forwards it to the core network through the wired backhaul connection. Similarly, data from the core network is transmitted to the access points via the wired backhaul, and then delivered to the user devices.

What are the advantages of wired access backhaul?

Wired access backhaul offers several advantages over wireless access backhaul, including:

  1. Higher Bandwidth: Wired connections offer higher bandwidth than wireless connections, allowing for the transfer of larger amounts of data at faster speeds. This makes wired backhaul ideal for high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming, online gaming, and large file transfers.
  2. Lower Latency: Wired connections also typically have lower latency than wireless connections. This means that data can be transmitted more quickly and with less delay, making wired backhaul ideal for real-time applications such as voice and video conferencing.
  3. Higher Reliability: Wired connections are less susceptible to interference and environmental factors such as weather conditions, which can affect the quality of wireless connections. This makes wired backhaul more reliable and less likely to experience downtime or interruptions.
  4. More Secure: Wired connections are more difficult to intercept than wireless connections, making them more secure. This is particularly important for sensitive applications such as financial transactions, where security is paramount.

What is wired access backhaul?

What is wireless access backhaul? 

Wireless access backhaul refers to the method of connecting the network infrastructure of a wireless communication system using a wireless connection instead of a wired connection. It provides a wireless connection between the access points and the core network, allowing for the transfer of data between them.

In wireless access backhaul, the access points or base stations are connected to the core network wirelessly, usually using microwave, millimeter-wave, or satellite communication technologies. This wireless connection allows for the transfer of data between the access points and the core network without the need for physical cables.

Wireless access backhaul can be useful in situations where laying physical cables is difficult, costly, or impractical, such as in rural or remote areas. It can also provide a temporary solution in disaster or emergency situations where wired connections may be unavailable.

However, wireless access backhaul typically has lower bandwidth and is less reliable than wired access backhaul, and may be more susceptible to interference and environmental factors. Therefore, it is often used as a supplement to wired backhaul rather than a replacement.

How does wireless access backhaul work?

Wireless access backhaul works by establishing a wireless connection between the access points or base stations of a wireless communication system and the core network. This connection allows for the transfer of data between the wireless access points and the core network without the need for physical cables.

To establish a wireless access backhaul, a wireless link is set up between the access point and the core network using a wireless communication technology such as microwave, millimeter-wave, or satellite communication. The access point is equipped with a wireless antenna that transmits data to the core network, and the core network is equipped with a corresponding antenna that receives the data.

Once the wireless connection is established, data can be transmitted between the access points and the core network. This allows for efficient management of the wireless communication system, as the core network can control and optimize the flow of data between the access points and the end-users of the network.

Wireless access backhaul can be useful in situations where laying physical cables is difficult or impractical, such as in rural or remote areas, or in disaster or emergency situations where wired connections may be unavailable. However, wireless access backhaul typically has lower bandwidth and is less reliable than wired access backhaul, and may be more susceptible to interference and environmental factors.

What are the advantages of wireless access backhaul?

Wireless access backhaul offers several advantages over wired access backhaul, including:

  1. Flexibility: Wireless access backhaul does not require physical cables to connect the access points to the core network, allowing for greater flexibility in deployment. This makes wireless backhaul ideal for applications where physical cables are not practical or cost-effective, such as in rural or remote areas or in disaster or emergency situations.
  2. Lower Cost: Wireless access backhaul is often less expensive than wired access backhaul, as it does not require the installation and maintenance of physical cables. This can make it a more cost-effective option for certain applications.
  3. Quick Deployment: Wireless access backhaul can be deployed quickly and easily, as it does not require the installation and configuration of physical cables. This makes it a good choice for temporary installations, such as at events or in disaster response situations.
  4. Redundancy: Wireless access backhaul can provide a redundant connection in case the primary wired connection fails. This can increase the reliability of the network and reduce downtime.
  5. Low Power Consumption: Wireless access backhaul typically requires less power than wired access backhaul, making it a more energy-efficient option.

What is wireless access backhaul?

What are the main differences between wired and wireless access backhaul?

The main differences between wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul are as follows:

  1. Physical vs. Wireless Connection: The primary difference between the two is that wired access backhaul uses physical cables, while wireless access backhaul uses a wireless connection.
  2. Bandwidth and Speed: Wired access backhaul typically offers higher bandwidth and faster speeds than wireless access backhaul, making it more suitable for high-bandwidth applications.
  3. Latency: Wired access backhaul typically has lower latency than wireless access backhaul, making it more suitable for real-time applications.
  4. Reliability: Wired access backhaul is generally more reliable than wireless access backhaul, as it is less susceptible to interference and environmental factors that can affect the quality of wireless connections.
  5. Security: Wired access backhaul is generally more secure than wireless access backhaul, as it is more difficult to intercept physical cables than wireless signals.
  6. Cost: Wired access backhaul is typically more expensive than wireless access backhaul, as it requires the installation and maintenance of physical cables.

How can wired and wireless backhaul work together?

Wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul can work together to create a hybrid backhaul solution that combines the advantages of both technologies. This hybrid approach can provide increased flexibility, reliability, and scalability, while minimizing the disadvantages of each technology.

One example of a hybrid approach is to use wired access backhaul as the primary connection and wireless access backhaul as a backup or redundant connection. In this scenario, the wireless access backhaul can be used as a failover connection in case the primary wired connection fails, providing increased reliability and minimizing downtime.

Another example of a hybrid approach is to use wireless access backhaul as a temporary solution while a wired connection is being installed or repaired. This can provide quick deployment and connectivity in situations where physical cables are not available or practical.

In some cases, a combination of wired and wireless access backhaul can be used to optimize the performance of the network. For example, in areas where wired connections are not available, wireless access backhaul can be used as the primary connection, while in areas where wired connections are available, wired access backhaul can be used for high-bandwidth applications, and wireless access backhaul can be used for backup or redundancy.

How can wired and wireless access backhaul work together?

Where does 5G come into play?

5G technology is expected to have a significant impact on both wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul. Here are some ways in which 5G is related to wired and wireless access backhaul:

5G and Wired Access Backhaul

5G technology can provide high-speed wireless connections to end-users, but it still requires a reliable and high-speed wired backhaul connection to support the network infrastructure.

In fact, 5G networks require more wired connections than previous generations to handle the increased data traffic and reduce latency. Fiber optic cables are expected to be the primary means of providing wired access backhaul for 5G networks due to their high-speed and reliability.

5G and Wireless Access Backhaul

5G technology can also provide a high-speed wireless backhaul connection between the access points and the core network. This can be useful in situations where laying physical cables for backhaul is difficult or impractical, such as in remote or rural areas.

5G wireless access backhaul can also be used to provide a redundant or backup connection to wired access backhaul in case of primary connection failure. Millimeter-wave technology is expected to play a significant role in 5G wireless access backhaul due to its high bandwidth and low latency.

Wired and Wireless Access Backhaul Use Cases

Military Use Cases 

Forward Operating Bases (FOBs)

Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) are military bases that are established in remote or hostile areas to support military operations. These bases require a reliable communication network to transmit data and support critical operations such as logistics, intelligence, and command and control.

A hybrid approach that combines wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul can provide an efficient and reliable communication network for FOBs.

A wired connection can be established to a nearby base or main hub, providing high bandwidth and low latency for critical operations. Wireless access backhaul can be used as a redundant or backup connection, providing flexibility and quick deployment in case of primary connection failure.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used in military operations for surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting. These vehicles require a reliable and high-speed communication network to transmit real-time data and support command and control.

A hybrid approach that combines wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul can provide an efficient and reliable communication network for UAVs.

A wired connection can be established to a nearby ground station or command center, providing high bandwidth and low latency for critical operations. Wireless access backhaul can be used to provide a flexible and quick connection to the UAV during flight, minimizing downtime and allowing for real-time data transmission.

Critical Infrastructure Use Cases

Public Safety

Public safety agencies such as police, fire, and emergency medical services require a reliable communication network to support critical operations such as emergency response and disaster management.

A hybrid approach that combines wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul can provide an efficient and reliable communication network for public safety agencies.

A wired connection can be established to a nearby base or command center, providing high bandwidth and low latency for critical operations. Wireless access backhaul can be used to provide a flexible and quick connection to mobile command centers, emergency vehicles, and other field assets, allowing for real-time data transmission and minimizing downtime.

Smart Grids

Smart grids are electrical grids that use digital technology to monitor, control, and optimize the distribution of electricity. These grids require a reliable and high-speed communication network to transmit real-time data and support automated operations.

A hybrid approach that combines wired access backhaul and wireless access backhaul can provide an efficient and reliable communication network for smart grids.

A wired connection can be established to a nearby substation or control center, providing high bandwidth and low latency for critical operations. Wireless access backhaul can be used to extend the connectivity of the smart grid to remote or challenging locations, such as substations in rural areas or distributed energy resources, allowing for real-time monitoring, control, and data transmission within the smart grid network.

Wired and Wireless Access Backhaul Use Cases

Where does Trenton Systems come into play?

At Trenton Systems, our COTS, 5G-poweredhigh-performance computing solutions support wired and wireless access backhaul for integrated networking and communication in real-time across multiple domains.

Our systems can host the CU, DU, and 5G core network on one or multiple servers, even allowing for computing when connectivity is lost. This allows critical data to be processed and analyzed at the edge within the harshest of environments.

In collaboration with our partnership ecosystem, we provide our commercial, military, and industrial customers with custom, comprehensive solutions equipped with the hardware and software needed for high-speed, low-latency 5G connectivity. 

Final thoughts 

As the demand for high-speed data networks continues to grow, the need for reliable and efficient access backhaul solutions becomes increasingly important.

Wired access backhaul offers higher bandwidth, lower latency, higher reliability, enhanced security, and scalability, making it suitable for various applications. On the other hand, wireless access backhaul provides flexibility, lower cost, quick deployment, redundancy, and lower power consumption, making it valuable in specific scenarios.

By combining wired and wireless access backhaul in a hybrid approach, organizations can leverage the benefits of both technologies to create a more flexible, reliable, and scalable network. With the advent of 5G technology, both wired and wireless access backhaul play crucial roles in supporting the network infrastructure.

Companies like Trenton Systems offers high-performance computing solutions that support wired and wireless access backhaul, providing customers with the necessary hardware and software for seamless 5G connectivity in diverse environments.

Interested in learning more? Just reach out to us anytime here

We’d be more than happy to help. 🙂





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