CTIA 2010: Backhaul's Big in Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2010 -- Busting through the cellular backhaul bottleneck is a hot issue in Las Vegas this week. And while established players show off their next-gen backhaul wares, some startups and new technologies are stealing the spotlight.

  • PEG Bandwidth LLC , a fiber backhaul network provider that was founded in early 2009, snapped up $15 million in equity financing from Associated Partners LP. The funding deal was reached through the merger of PEG Bandwidth and Wireless Infrastructure Partners LLC. The company aggregates backhaul traffic across different fiber networks for wireless operators through partnerships with fiber providers, cable operators, and CLECs. One of its partners, for example, is metro fiber provider FiberLight LLC . (See MWC 2010: T-Mobile Boosts Backhaul.)

    Fiber will be a bigger part of wireless operators' backhaul diets as they beef up capacity in their radio access networks. For example, T-Mobile US Inc. is looking to use fewer copper lines and lease fiber, as well as microwave links, to boost backhaul capacity as it rolls out evolved high-speed packet access (HSPA+) this year. (See MWC 2010: T-Mobile Boosts Backhaul.)

    PEG Bandwidth's management team is led by CEO Rich Rubin and comprises former Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) executives Ed DeLong, who is the company's COO, and Greg Ortyl, senior VP of sales and marketing.

  • Microwave wireless specialist Aviat Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AVNW) (formerly Harris Stratex) has turned to startup E-Band Communications Corp. to add millimeter-wave backhaul products to its portfolio. Through an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) deal, Aviat will market E-Band's products such as the E-Link 1000EXR, which is a Gigabit Ethernet point-to-point radio boasting fiber-equivalent speeds. (See E-Band, Aviat Ink OEM Deal.)

    Millimeter wave, a technology that's relatively new on the backhaul scene, uses frequency bands in the 70 to 80GHz range to deliver high-capacity links over short distances (typically no more than up to 3 kilometers). Aviat isn’t the first of the established backhaul players to resell millimeter-wave products from startups. For example, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) already has a similar deal in place with BridgeWave Communications . (See The New Wave of Mobile Backhaul and AlcaLu Enhances Microwave Backhaul.)

  • Amidst Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s 3G-bashing news announcements yesterday, the WiMax operator noted that it was upgrading its backhaul network as it strives to meet its coverage targets of 120 million people by the end of 2010.

    Clearwire says it expects to increase its microwave backhaul network capacity by 250 percent. Eventually, the operator will have the capability to support 1-Gbit/s speeds in high-density areas. Cleawire's microwave backhaul suppliers are DragonWave Inc. (AIM/Toronto: DWI; Nasdaq: DRWI) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). (See CTIA 2010: Clearwire, Sprint Push 4G Advantage.)

    And just about every backhaul vendor worth its salt is sprucing up its packet backhaul capabilities. Here's the best of the rest of the backhaul news from Las Vegas:

  • — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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