Mobile Network Backbone Upgrade: How Mobile Operators Can Solve Future Bandwidth Demands

Hilary Ackah-Arthur, Winfred Adjardjarh, George Essien


The advent of 3G and 4G mobile services brings with it a surge in data traffic, which in turn puts a strain on existing mobile networks. Nowhere is the demand for more bandwidth felt more than in the Backbone.The backbone of a mobile network contributes to the bandwidth of mobile signals. Therefore the more efficient or effective the mobile network backbone is the more mobile operators can solve current and future demands for higher bandwidths. The main objective of this paper is to research into the best possible way to improve the network backbone of mobile operators, in order to provide the best bandwidth for current and future use.The research was conducted on four mobile operators in Ghana at their branches in Takoradi, Kumasi and Accra Metropolitan areas because of the high population at these areas and the consequent high use of mobile services. Takoradi, also known as the twin-city, is fast developing and turning into a highly industrial area not to mention the recent oil find. Kumasi is the second most industrial area in Ghana and is one of the most populated areas in Ghana. The capital city, Accra is the most populated and the most industrial area in Ghana.Among the numerous challenges of mobile operators in Ghana is how the increasing demands for mobile bandwidth can be solve in the future. Evidently, this is an uphill task that confronts most mobile operators in Ghana.The paper took cognizance of the following factors in respect of the network backbone of mobile operators; the transmission media used for the network backbone, regulations on mobile telecommunications in Ghana, the backbone infrastructure of mobile operators, continuous increase in mobile subscribers, and future demands for network bandwidth.The central questions revolved around identifying the current generation technologies for backbone mobile networks, the current situation of microwave technology being used as backbone by mobile operators in Ghana and the future market demands for network backbone. This was done in terms of their characteristics such as bandwidth capacity, susceptibility to noise and the subsequent error rate, distance required between repeaters and security cost. For an upgrade of a network backbone to solve future bandwidth demands, the aforementioned characteristics of the transmission medium are of utmost importance. A mixed data collection approach was employed. Thus, through observation, it was discovered that some mobile operators are currently upgrading their backbone networks using fiber optics. An interview with workers of some mobile operators in Ghana resulted in such views as: each mobile network operator should have its own network backbone to enhance reliability and to promote effective competition; and the network backbone of most mobile operators should consists more of fiber than microwave.It was also realized, through the analyses of questionnaires that the network backbone of most mobile operators in Ghana are primarily made up of both microwave and fiber technologies; there will be a market demand for backbone networks in Ghana in the near future; and finally, fiber is chosen as the best technology to use for a mobile network backbone in the future.The paper recommends that mobile operators should upgrade their network backbone to fiber and also there must be a common underground conduits or ducts for all mobile operators to lay their fiber cables. An alternate parallel microwave network backbone for mobile operators is also recommended.

Keywords: Fiber optics, Microwave, Mobile bandwidth, Mobile operators in Ghana, Network backbone and Telecommunication.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5782 ISSN (Online)2225-0506
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