Nowadays, radio access networks (RANs) are moving toward a small cell-based paradigm, where the macro-cell antennas are aided by additional ones with lower coverage capabilities. This paradigm shift brings a new problem into the equation: a backhaul link is needed to carry the traffic from the small cell base stations to the network gateway. Currently, both wired and wireless solutions exist, but none is universally considered optimal. Power line communications (PLC) can be considered as a broadband access solution for this backhaul branch. Recent developments helped to push PLC performances to a point where state-of-the-art solutions can achieve very high-speed data transfers. Aided by traffic generation-based simulations, we will show how the PLC technology can be assessed for the described application. The reader will be guided through the process by discussing small cell networks, the power line infrastructure and basics of traffic generation modeling. The chapter will then discuss a quality-of-service (QoS)-driven analysis and use numerical results to show how requirements can be defined for the backhauling technology. Overall, this chapter will address how PLC and small cell network technologies can be brought together in a unified model to foster future small cell technology.
Part of the book: Broadband Communications Networks