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This study derives upper bounds on the throughput of the wireless backhaul link within a cluster of inter-connected three base stations (BSs) or a cluster of a controlling BS and three fixed relay stations. The authors propose and analyse the Ring protocol for the former and the Star protocol for the latter using network coding concept. These protocols can be used individually or in an overlaid fashion in a coordinated multi-cell system or in a cellular-distributed-antenna system to exchange information in the backhaul. To avoid the weakest link acting as a bottleneck and determining the backhaul throughput, as a result, the authors derive throughput optimising time sharing factors to compensate for the resulting bit imbalances in the backhaul.