The wireless backhaul in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, will be next-generation by 2012, when the region will have over 3 million base stations and 1.8 million cell sites, predicts IDC.
The research house said, in a press statement Tuesday, the population of base stations and cell sites--encompassing multiple base stations--will grow 24.3 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively, between 2008 and 2012. By 2012, half of these will be connected to fiber through carrier Ethernet.
In addition, IDC expects urban 3G/high-speed packet access (HSPA) base stations to be linked to fiber by 2011 in most markets across the region.
By 2012, almost all urban WiMax and long term evolution (LTE) base stations will be connected to fiber. Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) microwave and fixed WiMax will be used to provide data speeds of up to 300Mbps, in areas where fiber is not available.
Bill Rojas, IDC's Asia-Pacific research director, said a number of Asia-Pacific mobile carriers in markets such as Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Singapore, are starting to connect parts of their metropolitan 3G/HSPA networks with carrier Ethernet over fiber.
"The main driver of this transformation is the need for mobile operators to provide scalable, high-bandwidth, Web 2.0 video and audio content, and Internet access services for both mobile and fixed users, in incremental Capex (capital expenditure) outlays," Rojas said in the statement.
The rapid emergence of converged mobile devices with 3.5G HSDPA (high-speed download packet access) and Wi-Fi, and dual-mode support, as well as the imminent entry of 802.16e mobile WiMax devices mean users will expect operators to provide 1Mbps speed all the time, anywhere and everywhere, IDC said.
To do so, IDC believes operators will need to build scalable all-IP (Internet Protocol) backhaul that combines carrier Ethernet and fiber distribution in the urban centers, as well as microwave backhaul and long-haul dense wavelength division multiplexing (LH DWDM).
IDC cautioned that if operators delay the revamp of their mobile core networks to an all-IP platform, they will be left behind.
Rojas said: "The emergence of bandwidth-hungry devices such as Apple's 3G iPhone and Google's Android operating system-based devices, means mobile operators need to begin the transformation to next generation in the backhaul urgently, in order to avoid being branded as obsolete."