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Backhaul

CTIA 2010: Verizon Picks AlcaLu for LTE Backhaul

LAS VEGAS -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2010 -- Verizon Wireless today unveiled some key details about the backhaul portion of its ambitious Long Term Evolution (LTE) network and named Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) as a key infrastructure supplier.

AlcaLu is already earmarked to deliver LTE radio access, evolved packet core (EPC), and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) equipment for the carrier's LTE rollout. Now it's also been chosen to supply the gear for backhauling traffic from the cell sites to the core network. AlcaLu's package for wireless backhaul includes its 7750 service router, 7705 service aggregation router, and 5620 service aware manager. (See AlcaLu Scores Verizon LTE Deal.)

It's understood that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is also supporting Verizon's LTE backhaul efforts with its ASR 9000 and ASR 1000 routers. (See Cisco Lands Verizon.)

AlcaLu's backhaul products are winning favor with several LTE operators in addition to Verizon Wireless, according to Patrick Donegan, senior analyst and backhaul afficionado, at Heavy Reading. (See DoCoMo Starts Afresh for LTE Backhaul , AlcaLu Targets Wireless Backhaul, and AlcaLu Plugs Its Backhaul Hole.)

"Alcatel-Lucent is doing especially well in bids for backhaul equipment among those operators that will be first to transition to LTE," says Donegan. "It's not just Verizon Wireless that's taken the 7750 and 7705 -- NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) has taken the 1850 TSS, while one of the leading LTE carriers in Europe is also using Alcatel-Lucent equipment in the backhaul."

Verizon Wireless also announced, not surprisingly, that it will use fiber links from Verizon Global Wholesale at 3,500 cell sites across 25 states in the US. (See Verizon: This Is How We'll Do It and Verizon Backhauls With Fiber.)

In addition to its own fiber, Verizon is also using fiber links from Conterra Ultra Broadband Holdings Inc. , which will provide fiber and microwave services, offering both Sonet/TDM and native Ethernet capability. The company will supply the backhaul links in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. (See Verizon Picks Conterra LTE Backhaul.)

"It’s clear that third-party wholesalers are going to figure very prominently in the packet backhaul transition of most of the cellular operators in the US," says Donegan, who will chair Light Reading's upcoming Backhaul Strategies & Core Convergence for Mobile Operators conference.

The next big-ticket item in Verizon Wireless’s backhaul procurement process will be its selection of an Ethernet microwave vendor, and Donegan is already taking bets. [Ed. note: Well, we are in Vegas, after all.]

"I’d expect that vendor selection at some point in the next 12 to 18 months," says Donegan. "Providing Verizon Wireless doesn’t select its packet microwave vendors from among its LTE RAN suppliers -- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Alcatel-Lucent -- then that should clear the way for a head-to-head contest between Aviat Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AVNW) and DragonWave Inc. (AIM/Toronto: DWI; Nasdaq: DRWI), with perhaps Ceragon Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: CRNT) and NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) as outside bets."

Backhaul has been one of the hot topics in Las Vegas this week. (See CTIA 2010: Backhaul's Big in Vegas.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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