What is Backhaul?

In a telecommunications system, a backhaul is the part that connects the backbone and edge networks. For example, with a cell phone system, the towers connect to local phones and form a large but local network. The towers communicate with a central routing system capable of communicating with all towers in the system. The network of local towers is an edge system, the central system is the backbone and the method of communication between them is the backhaul. This term has many other meanings in other technical fields, but they all revolve around the same ideas.

Backhaul describes communications between local cell towers and a central routing system.

The term backhaul has a long history in the fields of telecommunications, computing and broadcasting. It probably originated as a term used in land transport to talk about using a secondary route to get to a destination faster. This term was co-opted to describe moving data from one place to another as efficiently as possible. From there, it entered the field of telecommunications as a segment of the system and into broadcasting as a method of getting programming where it needs to be broadcast.

The telecommunications definition is the more widely used of the two. In this case, a backhaul describes a primarily software system that connects two primarily hardware systems. Although the above example uses cell phones, any communication system is likely to have a backhaul. The main requirement is two main hardware-based systems, usually a local system and a main routing system. In all cases, these systems need a specialized method of communication between them.

These systems are varied, but they all use basic telecommunications protocols to communicate. In addition to cell phones, ATMs, multi-site business networks and satellite communication systems use backhaul systems to communicate. In all these examples, the backhaul is a real system of software and routing paths.

See also  What is a web server?

The broadcast version of backhaul is less used and describes a method for moving information, rather than the system moving it. In this case, the term is used to show how information travels from one location to another to reach a central system. The main focus in this definition is routing speed and cost efficiency. For example, if a television program needs an uplink at a certain time for broadcast, it is important that the program arrives on time and intact on the network’s systems.

This form of backhaul goes back to the original version, where the goal was to arrive safely at a certain time. This form requires precise organization across multiple groups to ensure data flows the way it should. This will often require bypassing common transmission routes in favor of slower but more reliable means.

Leave a Comment