WiBACK Wireless Backhaul Technology
Where fixed line infrastructures are not available to provide broadband connectivity, wireless links are often the most viable option for fast deployments at 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 emerging areas and developing countries.
Key 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 major differentiator between WiBACK and alternative technologies. Hence WiBACK requires significantly less technical skills and expertise to properly set up and operate a network, a major 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' and actively use them to increase the overall network capacity or to provide backup connectivity in case of link or nodes 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.
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 a network of multi-hop point-to-point links (both wireless and wire-line/fiber).
The technical approach includes multi-hop heterogeneous radio technologies, MPLS and E2E-QoS support, transparent Ethernet connectivity (similar to Pseudo Wire), network auto-configuration, and an IEEE 802.21-inspired media-independent messaging mechanism. Access can provided by any type of technology including GSM/LTE/5G, Wireless LAN, and Ethernet.
WiBACK version 4 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). Through partnerships and Development Cooperation a number of pilots are operational in sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, India and South-East Asia.
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, and customer satisfaction and also provide Internet access in some remote areas via public hotspots.