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Cisco RAN Backhaul on the M.O.VE #2: Beijing, China


By Craig Conaway

As I reflect back on our week in China I am impressed by several things:  The Modernization, the Order and the sheer masses of everything, people, cars, new building projects.

On one hand if you dropped me off downtown Beijing at Simultan Village, an upscale outdoor mall with Giant Video screens, beautiful designer water fountains and the latest in retail including an Apple Store, I could easily confuse the fact thatI was in Plano Texas at the Legacy Center. Similarly the underground subway reminds me a great deal of similar transits in NY, DC and Munich.  I was also able to see the Olympic Park and the “Bird’s Nest” first hand standing tall as an indication that Beijing has truly undergone a massive modernization in its infrastructure.

I was also impressed with the structure or the order with which everyone and everything worked together.  From the underground transit system to the gondolas at the Great Wall of China there was an incredible order and efficiency to the way everything seemed to be in harmony.  In both cases I was a part of a massive crowd of people that moved in harmony like a wave rolling toward the beach.  However, it was in those instances that I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people.


On the other hand, an area that did not flow harmoniously was the automobile traffic.The traffic was horrendous and it took hours to get anywhere in or around the city.  You had to plan well in advance to even get a cab, much less get to your destination.  The bottlenecks were everywhere and the streets and highways are nowhere close to the scale needed for the massive volume of people flowing into and around the city everyday.  The Government has imposed severe restrictions on owning and operating an automobile to try to stem the amount of traffic, but the demand is such that the restrictions are just not enough, and so the new normal is to hurry up and wait. I even learned that trucks are restricted from driving in to the city during rush hours in order to ease the traffic problems if only a little.

The reason I mention all of this is because it is a much more visual indicator of the same issues China is facing with its Mobile Internet Infrastructure.  While we cannot see it on the highways, similar traffic jams are taking place on the Mobile Internet.  China boasts 600+ million mobile subscribers,the largest market in the world by far for Mobile Internet users.  In 2010 as part of the Mobile Internet modernization Chinese Mobile Operators built over 300,000 base stations and radio towers to try to scale the network to meet the staggering demand.  But like the Highways, the growth in mobile internet traffic has outpaced the infrastucture’s ability to support the traffic.  This week, I wandered into the Apple Store downtown Beijing and the scene was similar to what I have seen inthe US, crowds were lined up to buy the iPhone 4….It is the smart phone phenomenon that continues to drive messaging and video traffic across the network in staggering volumes, such that even with 300,000 new base stations more is needed. 

What more can be done?  - that is the question we are travelling the globe to ask and answer. The most modern networks that are being built to handle the massive volumes of traffic have several things in common, they are scalable to Terabytes, simple to operate and much more cost effective than their predecessors. Based on IP technologies, Cisco has pioneered technologies & network architectures to backhaul mobile Internet traffic from the devices & base stations to the Internet & the content that users are hungry for.  Cisco has also designed capabilities into the networks to essentially scale themselves automatically as new base stations and new devices are added to the network. For techies we use the term Layer 3 routing.  Previous networks in China used Layer 2 static routing which may have been simpler initially, but as the networks scale to the size China requires, it becomes unmanageable and ultimately will implode by its own weight. 

Layer 3 routing is an intelligent design that allows for mass scale and manageability as China heads towards 1M base stations and 1B mobile subscribers.  Additionally, Cisco has pioneered asic designs for our Mobile Internet Routers that are highly efficient generating a tremendous advantage in scale from 2-9X over competitive solution, as well as a significant reduction in power requirements to fuel the next wave of the Mobile Internet Infrastructure.  Imagine what it costs to power 1M base stations in China? The costs and requirements for Electricity infrastructure is also staggering.  Cisco has targeted this problem in particular to allow China and the ROW to be able to build a more green and cost effective Next Generation Mobile Internet.  Part of our offer includes Tools for providers to use to calculate their operational savings by reducing power and reducing the cost and time it takes to turn up new elements and services. These tools are designed for planners to plan & budget for the expense of operating a more scaleable network to serve the growing demand of mobile internet users.

We had some fun this week travelling to the Great Wall of China and in the process trying to illustrate the Issues that I mention above with some interesting if not questionable video highlights.  Please join Robert Synnestvedt and I at the Great Wall and in all our upcoming travels.  Next week we are off to Moscow - see you there!

Who Are We?

Robert Synnestvedt – Is the Global Solutions Marketing Manager for Cisco’s RAN Backhaul Solutions. Follow him, me, Craig Conaway, – The Global Sales Lead for Cisco’s RAN Backhaul Solutions, as we make our way around the world introducing our Sales Teams, Partners and Customers to our Next Generation of MobileInternet Solutions for RAN Backhaul.

Continue Reading: Cisco RAN Backhaul on the M.O.VE #3: Mumbai, India

More Resources

Watch a live webcast: Architecting Mobile Backhaul for the Next Generation Internet with presenter Robert Synnestvedt, Mobility Marketing Manager, Cisco. Learn about techniques that are proving to improve profitability of Mobile Backhaul Networks.

Read what others are saying about IP RAN Backhaul for Mobile Networks by viewing a past tweetchat transcript here. Tweetchats are online conversations held at a pre-arranged date/time between a group of Twitter users.

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