Small cells

Cox Is Latest Cable Co. to Eye Small Cells

Cox is the latest cable company getting interested in "developing the emerging small cell opportunity with wireless providers," according to a recently posted job ad.

Cox Communications Inc. has been advertising for a senior carrier wireless sales support manager in Atlanta, Ga., who will serve as "the small cell subject matter expert for the carrier organization." The manager would be responsible for assessing small cell business opportunities and partners for the cable operator.

Small cells are tiny basestations that are supposed to serve as a complement to the macro network, extending the speed and range of 3G and -- eventually -- 4G services. Much of the early action in the market has involved 2G and 3G home basestations (femtocells) but is expected to extend to picocells and metrocells that can serve public access needs indoors and outdoors over the next few years.

The ad doesn't go into great detail about what small cell opportunities people at Cox are considering yet. Other cable operators, however, have been more forthcoming about the prospects of working with wireless carriers on deploying these tiny basestations. (See Backhauling Small Cells.)

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is testing small cells, and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) wants to sell small cells as a service. The concept behind this is that the cable operator would deploy and manage the small cells for the wireless operator. (See TWC Uncaps CCAP With Casa & Arris and TW Cable Eyes Small Cells Too.)

Such concepts could take a while to come to market -- if, in fact, they ever do -- as Time Warner Cable has previously said that it hasn't sorted out all aspects of the business model with potential wireless partners: issues like who owns the small cell and where the cable operator will get the spectrum to use to deploy the radio. (See Small Cells: The Battle for the Lamp Post.)

The market, particularly for public access small cells, is requiring a much longer runway to take off than many had previously predicted. Heavy Reading predicts that 700,000 public access small cells requiring new backhaul will be in live service by the end of 2017. (See How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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MordyK 1/28/2014 | 11:37:17 AM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 So true! Unless we're the one's getting the jobs we won't know more details until they trickle out or get closer to deployment.
DanJones 1/28/2014 | 11:27:21 AM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 All we know right now is that MSOs are talking about the prospects and apparently hiring to explore opportunities. Something to keep an eye I think.
MordyK 1/27/2014 | 6:27:25 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 I honestly can't see why not. Just because historically they never di this type of stuff doesn't mean they can't start a new business unit. 
DanJones 1/27/2014 | 5:26:44 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 It might be a pipedream but TW Cable has talked about it enough to be noticed.
dwx 1/27/2014 | 4:54:36 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 I can't see them getting into that line of business at all, or any MSO for that matter.  
DanJones 1/27/2014 | 4:17:36 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 That's not what TW Cable -- for instance -- is pushing as a concept. They want to  deploy and manage the small cell as a service. I guess we'll see how these ideas might shake out over the course of the year.
MordyK 1/27/2014 | 4:16:35 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 That applies only if its simply service provisioning, but if its full virtual networks were talking about it will include spectrum as well as decisions on hardware, virtual backhaul billing breakouts, etc.
dwx 1/27/2014 | 4:09:48 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 There is no spectrum involved in these deployments, this is generally for just data backhaul.   The small cells are supplied by the wireless carrier and use the MSO fiber or HFC IP to get back to the wireless carrier.  Most of these will be compact strand mount setups I imagine, but others may be placed in various other locations.  The MSO has to work with the wireless carrier to determine where the best locations exist amicable to wireless density and MSO backhaul assets.  
MordyK 1/27/2014 | 2:11:58 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 If you look at the docs, its more of how to guide within the existing frameworks than a need for new standards. This in effect means that theoretically it can be done at the same time as the initial deployments take place.

The only real issue is the need for a design that contains hardware support for the various unique operator frequency requirements. But that issue can be designed modularly.
DanJones 1/27/2014 | 2:07:23 PM
Re: 700,000 by 2017 Well realistically if its at the forum now that puts multi-band standardization, what, a couple of years out what with carrier tests and whatnot?

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