ESDN: Verizon Wants Fast, Cheap Small Cells

Zayo Group exec suggests that Verizon's CTO wants small cells fast and cheap, but there's lots of figuring out to do on how to get there.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

October 4, 2013

3 Min Read
ESDN: Verizon Wants Fast, Cheap Small Cells

NEW YORK -- Ethernet & SDN Expo -- Verizon Wireless CTO Nicola Palmer is on the hunt for small cells, but she wants them fast and on the cheap.

David Howson, president of sales and customer management at Zayo Group Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO), a national broadband infrastructure provider, let this slip in a presentation Wednesday at the Ethernet and SDN Expo. He said that he met with the CTO of a major US wireless operator, and that she said small cells have to be cheap.

It stands to reason that he was referring to Verizon Wireless , because Palmer is the only female CTO of a major US wireless operator. (How is that for deductive reasoning?)

"We still have lots of figuring out to do in terms of how exactly how this will play out," Howson told the crowd at the mobile backhaul panel.

[Update: Verizon reached out to Light Reading to note that this is speculative. A spokesman says: "Verizon Wireless is not in a position to comment about elements of our business strategy which have not been publicly announced."]

As a fiber provider, Zayo believes fiber, not microwave, will connect most small cells. However, he said it'll require building a new network, acquiring sites and licensing, RF planning, the ability to coordinate multiple sites at once, and more investment. This is something the backhaul provider is trying to balance against demand by operators like Verizon for fast and cheap action.

Howson said that most wireless providers are still in the test and pilot stage. The overwhelming feedback indicates that a moderate number of small projects will be tested and deployed in 2014, and 2015 will be be the year operators go into mainstream deployments.

"It's becoming a smorgasbord of how do you get that fast and cheap deployment around small cells in particular areas and do it in the right turnkey ways," he said. That will mean different things to different operators, but the small cell challenge is forcing them to collaborate more. (See: Are Small Cells a Hard Sell?)

The Zayo man also conceded that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless are the farthest ahead in finalizing their small cell plans. However, AT&T has been a bit more vocal on the subject than its biggest rival. It has talked up the need for WiFi in small cells, and it has said it plans to have multimode small cells packing in WiFi, 3G, and LTE in 2014. (See 3G, 4G & Wi-Fi: AT&T Plans Small-Cell Threesome.)

Verizon is just now starting to talk up its plans. It recently picked its macro vendors Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) to build out its small cell plans beginning in the second half of this year. (See: Verizon Taps AlcaLu & Ericsson for 4G Small Cells and Ericsson's Radio Dot Receives Mixed Reception.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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