Overview: WiBACK Wireless Backhaul Technology
Fields of application
Where fixed-line infrastructures are not available to provide broadband connectivity, wireless links are often the most viable option for fast deployments at a very low cost. Fraunhofer's WiBACK Wireless Backhaul Technology targets carrier-grade service provisioning in such under-served areas. Deployment scenarios range from "last-mile" service provisioning in developed countries to wide-area coverage (hundreds of square kilometers) in the emerging regions of the Gobal South.
Features and benefits
Critical features of WiBACK include End-to-End (E2E) QoS-provisioning, auto-configuration, self-management as well as self-healing. Those "Plug & Play" features form the significant differentiator between WiBACK and alternative technologies. Hence WiBACK requires significantly less technical skills and expertise to properly set up and operate a network, a substantial advantage in areas where such skilled labor is often simply not available.
High reliability is another advantage. WiBACK can form redundant topologies such as 'rings'. Building upon MPLS, it supports E2E-QoS and can actively utilize redundant links to increase the overall network capacity or provide backup connectivity in case of link or node failures.
Compared to traditional operator technologies, WiBACK builds on commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment that has been carefully selected to provide an extremely low overall energy footprint (local production is possible and encouraged). Therefore WiBACK significantly lowers the investment and operational cost (CAPEX and OPEX). Compared to ultra-low-cost wireless mesh technology, WiBACK offers carrier-grade E2E services via transparent Layer 2 connectivity (Virtual Ethernet Wire) as well as fully automated configuration and maintenance.
Supports typical access technologies
Access can be provided by any type of technology, including WiFi, Ethernet, GSM/LTE/5G, or IoT (i.e. LoRaWAN).
WiBACK version 5 is the latest integrated release of the hardware and software suites tested in real-world environments and deployed in production networks. Commercially operated networks are deployed in Germany and Italy (connecting rural areas). Several pilots are operational in sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, India, and South-East Asia through partnerships and Development Cooperation.
Research & development
R&D on WiBACK is still ongoing, and we operate a couple of outdoor networks in the vicinity of our campus in Sankt Augustin, Germany. These are used to evaluate reliability, vulnerability in outdoor conditions, operational costs, customer satisfaction, and also provide Internet access in some remote areas via public hotspots.
WiBACK is the result of several years of research and development at Fraunhofer FIT. It was motivated by the intention to provide carrier-grade service qualities for voice and data transmission over a large area with low-cost wireless technology. From a technological point of view, a WiBACK network today can be described as an SDN-like backhaul network build upon concatenated heterogeneous point-to-point links (both wireless and wireline/fiber).