Wireless backhaul is the use of wireless communications systems to get data from an end user to a node in a major network such as the Internet or the proprietary network of a large business, academic institution or government agency. The term can also refer to the transmission of network data over an alternative wireless route when the normal route is unavailable or overtaxed. The most common method of wireless backhaul involves microwave systems although satellites can also be used.
Manufacturers of network switching equipment use the term backhaul to refer to the process of getting data to the network backbone. In satellite communication, backhaul means getting data to a point from which it can be transmitted to the satellite. Backhaul is also used to get non-live audio and video material to distribution points at major broadcast news organizations. The term is occasionally used in reference to the use of the back channel on a bidirectional communications line.
The optimum choice for wireless backhaul technology involves considerations such as network capacity, expected or required data speed, relative cost, electromagnetic interference and the availability of radio frequency spectrum space.