Small cells

Fibertech Claims US Small-Cell First

Fiber optic provider Fibertech says it has launched the first commercial outdoor metro small-cell site for an unnamed Tier 1 wireless carrier in the US.

Small cells are compact basestations that can be used to extend the voice and data capacity of the macro network. Providing adequate backhaul for these radios is one of the big bottlenecks to the deployment of small cells, particularly units installed on lamp posts and buildings to provide coverage in public areas. (See Small Cells: The Battle for the Lamp Post and Small Cells in the City .)

To this end, Fibertech claims that it is the first with a commercial outdoor small-cell site for its unnamed carrier customer. The fiber provider is working to ensure that more of these small-cell deployments are on the way.

"We feel small cell is a growing trend among wireless carriers looking for increased bandwidth in hot spots across our markets," Dan Clifton, senior director of marketing at Fibertech Networks LLC tells Light Reading in an email Thursday. "In addition to current contracts, we have a number of proposals out to multiple carriers to help provide the necessary bandwidth."

The provider isn't yet saying how many small cells are deployed at the commercial site. "We cannot give out that information but have executed contracts to deliver various quantities of small cells in a number of markets across our existing footprint," Clifton tells us.

The company has fiber optic networks operational in Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio; Providence, R.I.; Hartford, Bridgeport, Stamford, Danbury, New London, and New Haven, Conn.; Springfield and Worcester, Mass.; Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Binghamton, White Plains, and Albany, N.Y.; Dover and Wilmington, Del.; Montgomery County, Md.; Trenton, Newark, and Atlantic City, N.J.; and Philadelphia. Fibertech is also planning to expand its network in Detroit.

Fibertech's deployment could be among the first indications that the long, slow taxi and takeoff of small cells is finally sputtering onto the runway. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has so far been the US operator most vocal about deploying small cells, saying that it will have 40,000-plus of the 3G, 4G, or multimode units deployed by the end of 2015, although it hasn't specified how many will need new backhaul deployments.

Heavy Reading 's most recent prediction is that 700,000 public access small cells requiring new backhaul will be in live service across the globe by the end of 2017. (See AT&T: 3G Small Cells in 18 US States and How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

MordyK 2/7/2014 | 7:34:55 PM
Re: New backhaul That's always a possibility :)
DanJones 2/7/2014 | 4:23:16 PM
Re: New backhaul The light at the end of the tunnel could be an oncoming train!
Sarah Thomas 2/7/2014 | 3:17:29 PM
Re: New backhaul It certainly seems that way, now more than ever! I bet we'll hear more concrete plans at MWC.
MordyK 2/7/2014 | 1:39:38 PM
Re: New backhaul but atleast there's light at the end of the tunnel
Sarah Thomas 2/7/2014 | 8:40:40 AM
New backhaul I asked Taqua, which supplies small cell backhaul (among other things) what their estimation on the number of public access small cell sites needing new backhaul, and its CTO John Hoadley says 50%. He seemed to think there were substantial challenges that would delay the market even more.
Sarah Thomas 2/7/2014 | 8:38:18 AM
Re: Which operator? It's gotta be AT&T. They've been hinting a deployment for a while now, at least more so than any of their competitors.
DanJones 2/6/2014 | 5:52:11 PM
Re: Big business for Fibertech? I would doubt its more than a blip on the revenue radar yet, they're a supplier to many carrier macro networks already, but at least its not just another test but a commercial deployment (however small it turns out to be)
DOShea 2/6/2014 | 5:32:19 PM
Big business for Fibertech? This could really be something for Fibertech if the market is ready to break wide open. I wonder what they're looking at in terms of new revenue from all these deployments that are supposedly under discussion.
DanJones 2/6/2014 | 5:20:48 PM
Which operator? Your bet on the operators, oh gentle readers? I'm guessing AT&T for a dollah.
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