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What is Backhaul?

Contributor: Erin R. Flournoy

This week Connected Texas visited with the small Texas community of Stamford to kick of the Connected Community Engagement Program. 

Connected Texas engineering staffers were also on hand at the community meeting to present the basics of Texas’ mapping efforts, discuss identified providers in Stamford, and talk about hurdles each one faces in rural Texas today.

During the meeting where residents, providers and community leaders were in attendance, there were several questions about broadband and broadband technologies in general.  The misunderstandings about backhaul, for instance, are common for residents not only in Stamford, but rural residents across the Lone Star State.

REPLACE_THIS_TEXT_WITH_OPENING_IMAGE_TAG alt="" src="" style="width: 200px; height: 158px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="">Simply put, backhaul is what carries broadband service from point-to-point through things like radio frequency, cable, or fiber.

Pretend for a moment that we are entering into the winter months and you’ve begun your Christmas decorating.  What would you do if your spouse asked you to extend your usual Christmas light display about 50 yards down to your mailbox?  Would your primary string of lights be able to travel 50 yards?  Most of us would visit the hardware store to purchase an extension cord that could support the wattage needed to light the mailbox display.  Unless you are Clark Griswold and already have the infrastructure available, it may cost you time and money to accommodate the new decorative request. 

The same can be true for backhaul.  The existence of middle mile, or “backhaul”, is a requirement when trying to reach rural towns from larger metropolitan areas.  The further the backhaul has to travel, the greater the need for additional equipment.  Cost associated with new and/or upgraded equipment across large tracts depends on the technology used, but will almost always come at a price.

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Erin Flournoy serves as Field Solutions Specialist in Connected Nation’s Engineering & Technical Services Division.  She works with broadband providers to gather the vital data needed to create detailed maps of broadband coverage.  Erin supports the Connected Texas Program by promoting broadband access, adoption, and use in all areas of the state.