Tower Cloud says local market knowledge differentiates its small cell services

Tower Cloud plans to join the growing ranks of wholesale providers offering turnkey small cell services for wireless operators, but it says that its one advantage other national fiber providers don't have is knowledge of local markets.

This local market feel has driven the service provider to focus its attention on serving the Southern state region, including Augusta, Ga. where it recently won a contract with a large Tier 1 wireless operator, for example.

In that build, it will deploy 25,350 fiber miles (or 236 route miles), part of which will include dark fiber for macro cell and small cell services.

Ron Mudry, president and CEO of Tower Cloud, told FierceInstaller in an interview that having those local resources enables it to more effectively work through the intricacies of local permitting processes versus a larger national provider.

Mudry and other members of his staff like George Townsend, SVP of business development, have plenty of experience in addressing local permitting issues as both drove the wireless backhaul business for the former Progress Telecom, now Level 3 Communications.

"Site acquisition, getting permits and getting the rights to attach the antennas to the various locations you need is difficult and challenging work," Mudry said. "We feel that by being very focused in a certain geography, we have local market knowledge, local contacts, the ability to work with the local regulators in the jurisdictions to a greater degree than someone is nationally focused."

Mudry added Tower Cloud's local knowledge could "be a key differentiator, particularly in future small cell turnkey opportunities."

While it has yet to announce a formal small cell turnkey offering yet, the service provider has plenty of experience in providing fiber front haul small cell services.

In 2014, the service provider won a deal to provide dark fiber backhaul for Verizon's 4G LTE small cell deployment in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. Tower Cloud built dark fiber into the park and to each of the 22 small cell nodes. Each node will have four fibers, two of which will be operational and then two spares for backup.

"Now we're actually engaged in building out our first turnkey services where we'll get the rights to put up the antennas at the various locations and put up our own poles up, bring the power, do the RF analysis, and bring the fiber and do the installations we do every day," Mudry said. "I think those turnkey services are going to be an avenue of growth segment for the carriers."

Being an established wholesale provider for small cell networks, Tower Cloud will provide a mix of front haul and turnkey services depending on the particular wireless operator's needs.

Mudry says he foresees wireless operators using a mix of their own engineering and construction capabilities and those of a third-party partner.

"Wireless carriers look at a certain percentage of their business where they are going to need full turnkey services and another percentage where they'll get their own rights to place the antenna and they'll be looking for fiber front haul services," Mudry said. "Tower Cloud intends to participate in both of those segments and we're actively involved in both of them."

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