What is backhaul in networking? - Neos Networks

What is backhaul in networking?

What is backhaul in networking?

Backhaul is the link between a network and its subnetworks – a critical part of high capacity network infrastructure. Learn all about backhaul and how it can supercharge your business’s network.

What is backhaul?

Backhaul in networking refers to the infrastructure that connects a local network, or subnetwork, to a backbone or core network. It’s typically a high capacity, low latency link designed to transmit data efficiently and fast.

Think of networks as roads and the data as the vehicles travelling along them. A backbone network is like a motorway, the main road ensuring traffic travels quickly and efficiently between major cities.

Backhaul is like the major roads branching off the motorway, connecting local towns and regions to the main highway.

Backhaul examples

Internet service providers (ISPs) use backhaul to deliver internet access. ISPs connect you to the internet through a backbone network connecting data centres linked to an internet gateway.

Backhaul, or exchange backhaul, is the subnetwork that connects these data centres to local exchanges. These exchanges typically link to street cabinets, which link to your router by copper or fibre optic cable, delivering internet to your office or home.

Backhaul is also used for mobile data access. When you browse the internet on your mobile phone, your device connects to cell towers in a local Radio Access Network (RAN).

Backhaul is this local RAN and its related infrastructure, which connects your mobile device to a wired backbone network and the internet.

How does backhaul work?

Streaming illustrates the significant role backhaul plays in network architecture. When customers use a streaming service like Netflix, their data travels through several stages of the network.

How exchange backhaul works, connecting data centres to local exchanges
  1. Data Centre: When a customer requests a movie, the content is retrieved from Netflix’s servers in a data centre.
  2. Backbone network: The data travels through the backbone network, a high capacity network that connects regions, ISPs and data centres to the internet and cloud services.
  3. Exchange backhaul: Backhaul connects the backbone network to your local exchange, ensuring the data is transported efficiently to and from the internet.
  4. Access network: If the customer uses a fixed-line connection like DSL or fibre, the data may pass through a street cabinet connecting to their home or business.
  5. Router: The data reaches their router, which creates a wired or wireless local area network to deliver the movie to their laptop, mobile phone or smart TV. You connect your devices to the router by Wi-Fi or by plugging in an ethernet cable.

Exchange backhaul plays a critical role in this process. By providing high capacity transport between the backbone network (2) and the customer’s local access network (4), backhaul ensures their content is transmitted efficiently, ensuring a smooth streaming experience.

So, if you’re a network service provider, backhaul can be a vital link between your data centres and the customers you supply.

Backhaul connected to an access network providing connectivity to businesses, office buildings and homes

Types of backhaul

Backhaul solutions can be divided into two broad categories: wired or wireless.

Wired (fixed-line) backhaul

Wired or fixed-line backhaul uses cables to transmit data, which can provide higher bandwidth and lower latency than wireless backhaul.

Wired backhaul can use fibre optic, copper, ethernet or coaxial cabling. Today, wired backhaul tends to use fibre as it offers very low latency and the highest capacity to satisfy the growing demand for data.

Wireless backhaul

Wireless backhaul is used where wired backhaul is either impossible or not cost-effective.

Wireless backhaul typically uses microwave signals, which can make point-to-point and point-to-multipoint connections over medium to long distances. For remote areas or areas without wired infrastructure, satellites can be used to transmit data over long distances, while Wi-Fi can extend networks locally.

What are the benefits of backhaul?

For network service providers, investing in exchange backhaul is a strategic move to enhance your network capabilities and competitiveness. By deploying high capacity fibre backhaul, you can get:

  • Longer reach: Extend your network into new areas to expand your customer base.
  • Lower costs: Exchange backhaul can be a significantly more cost-effective way to expand your network than building your own infrastructure.
  • Faster speeds: High capacity fibre backhaul can boost speeds for your customers.
  • Lower latency: Direct fibre connections can reduce latency, resulting in a smoother gaming or video conferencing experience.
  • Greater resilience: High capacity backhaul allows you to build in redundancy to bolster your network’s reliability.
  • Better scalability: Fibre backhaul has huge potential capacity, so you can scale up your network as you grow your business.

In short, exchange backhaul is not only a great way to extend your network reach. It’s also vital to support a competitive customer experience and meet the ever-growing data demands of AI, 5G and IoT.

Exchange backhaul with Neos Networks

If you’re looking to boost your network with exchange backhaul, we can help. With Neos Networks, you can extend and supercharge your network with our UK-wide high capacity network, including:

Ethernet backhaul

Our Ethernet backhaul gives you:

  • Up to 99.95% availability: Your 1Gbps and 10Gbps backhaul is protected across our MPLS core network: traffic is automatically rerouted to a secondary path should an issue arise.
  • Scalability: Upgrade your backhaul at 1Gbps increments from 1Gbps to 10Gbps.
  • High throughput: 1Gbps and 10Gbps backhaul can be configured to take jumbo frames (MTU size of up 9100 bytes), simulating a throughput like optical wavelengths.
  • No distance limits: Deliver services from exchanges in Scotland to data centres in Manchester or London, as required.
  • Network-to-network interfaces (NNIs): Meet growing customer demand with our 100Gbps NNIs in 20 data centres nationwide, from Edinburgh and Newcastle to Leeds, Manchester and London.

Optical backhaul

For faster speeds, consider high capacity optical backhaul with Optical Wavelengths or Dark Fibre.

With Optical Wavelengths, you get:

  • Up to 99.95% availability: Low latency, highly available service, including dedicated wavelengths.
  • Flexibility: Choose between 10Gbps, 100Gbps and 400Gbps across the UK.
  • Diversity: Route separation protects against outages.
  • Resilience: Managed switching adds resilience to your network.
  • Guaranteed bandwidth: Always receive the full bandwidth you pay for.

We’ve already helped several network service providers achieve their ambitious growth plans, supporting:

  • brsk to roll out 100Gbps services to key regions across the North of England and the Midlands
  • Giganet to enable their national network service and boost their capacity offering tenfold
  • Gigabit Networks to supercharge connectivity in and around the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Nottingham, Leicester and Derby

If you’re a network service provider, AltNet or any business wanting a cost-effective way to expand your high capacity network nationwide, get in touch. We’ll be happy to help you supercharge your network.

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