Welcome to Emerging Technology Initiative –  Backhaul/fronthaul Networking & Communications (ETI-BNC)!

Heterogeneous small-cell networks (HetNets) are considered as one of the key architectural enablers to the challenging demands such as high spectral and energy efficiency of 5G mobile networks. Although the small-cell concept has been articulated and studied for many years within the 4G LTE framework, the concept has never found widespread application mainly due to the cost of deployment. In the conventional wireless networks, the cost of the macro-BS has been a dominant factor. The cost of a small-cell BS, on the other hand, is much lower in comparison to that of a macro-BS; but efficient and satisfactory operation of all these densely deployed small cells hinges on a smart, economical and ubiquitous backhaul/fronthaul networks provisioning ultra-low latency (time to reaction over wireless links), high data rate and high reliability. It is expected that with the advent of 5G and beyond networks, we will continue to enhance the user experience in terms of latency and quality of experience with the aid of advanced mobile side technologies. However, comparatively less focus has been paid so far on the fixed side of the network, i.e., toward the management of physical network computing infrastructure including backhaul and fronthaul for networks.

It is anticipated that future networks will evolve from today’s separate and incompatible fronthaul and backhaul into an integrated flexible smart wireless backhauling/fronthauling infrastructure that will support future cellular and ad hoc networks e.g., 4G/5G and 6G, Wi-Fi, IoT and emerging technologies such as driverless cars, autonomous vehicles or flying platforms, robotic control, smart buildings, and remote condition monitoring networks, etc. The development of smart backhaul/fronthaul solutions for economical and ubiquitous networks will enable ultra-low latency, artificial intelligence, high data-rates and high reliability. Such integrated backhaul and fronthaul networks will meet the global information and communication requirements of future smart and resilient cities, providing ubiquitous connectivity and ensuring the convergence between the fixed and mobile side of the network and guarantee enhanced user experience and better scalability and latency.

The aim of the ETI-BNC on Backhaul Networking and Communications is to put forward IEEEs’ agenda and contribution in the research and standardization activities on future backhaul/fronthaul communications and networking. This sub-TC will create a forum for researchers, developers and practitioners from both academia and industry to identify and discuss the backhaul/fronthaul requirements, challenges, recent development and smart end-to-end solutions pertaining to fifth-generation (5G) and beyond of mobile communication networks. The ETI-BNC will serve as a prolific opportunity to educate about, promote and accelerate the evolution of next generation of backhaul/fronthaul networking and communications by fostering technical activities in the related area.