While the wireless industry's move to outdoor small cells has been relatively slow, wireline-based Ethernet fiber and point-to-point (P2P) microwave led the market in terms of revenue in 2015. According to a new IHS report, the global outdoor small cell backhaul equipment market totaled $117 million. In 2011, 42,600 outdoor small cell backhaul connections were built out in 2015 and IHS has forecast that figure will rise to 878,000 in 2020.
Communications Sales & Leasing is buying Tower Cloud for $230 million in cash and stock, giving it a set of dark fiber and turnkey small cell services to further its appeal with Tier 1 wireless operators.
Hawaiian Telcom's wireless operator customers see small cells as a way to expand coverage and capacity on the Hawaiian Islands, a trend that the telco can address with its growing fiber network.
Frontier Communications may be weathering revenue declines in its wireless backhaul business, but the service provider sees opportunities to leverage its FiOS footprint to provide fiber-based services for small cells and 5G wireless.
Consolidated Communications' carrier division came off a successful year, building out fiber to a large number of wireless operator towers in its footprint, but pricing remains a challenge.
Zayo is finding that as it wins new wireless operator dark and lit fiber tower contracts, these same customers are prime targets for additional services sales.
Lumos Networks may still be early in the dark fiber game, which only makes up a small portion of its revenue, but the service provider is getting more inquiries from a host of wireless, wireline and enterprise customers.
Shentel's wireline network success in the first quarter, which contributed to the provider's net income rise of 35 percent year over year to $13.9 million, was driven by fiber sales to schools via the FCC's E-Rate program and to wireless operators in its region.
Zayo has expanded its fiber-to-the-tower footprint in San Antonio to serve one of its anchor wireless service provider customers, furthering its presence in the growing dark fiber to the tower segment.
Verizon's and Sprint's pending movement to C-RAN architectures for their small cell and wireless densification efforts will likely become a large opportunity for a host of fiber wholesale providers like FairPoint, Lumos and Zayo.