Ron Mudry, Chairman and CEO of wireless backhaul specialist TowerCloud, is not a stranger to providing fiber-based backhaul service to traditional wireline or wireless carriers.
Prior to founding TowerCloud, Mudry was the founding CEO of the former Progress Telecom (now Level 3), where he sold wholesale backhaul capacity to other carriers.
Similar to other wireless backhaul specialists such as Telecom Transport Management, TowerCloud also takes a hybrid approach to wireless backhaul. Taking into account that while optical networks are the optimal solution for wireless it can't go everywhere so Tower Cloud complements its fiber network with high-speed microwave links to deliver a mix of SONET-based services (T1, DS3, OCn) and Ethernet.
Taking a fiber-oriented approach, TowerCloud will begin with an existing backbone and build out laterals that are close enough to the fiber to justify the economics. From those fiber sites, they will then extend the network to other sites with point-to-point microwave links.
"We like to develop a differentiated fiber footprint that is more geared towards the cell towers as opposed to CLEC networks which were built more towards central offices (CO) and enterprise customers," Mudry said. "We'll take partial rings from other fiber providers and combine them with others to make a differentiated ring and then we'll construct our own fiber laterals that are going to be served with fiber. Then, we use many of them as an aggregation hub to beam out with microwave."
To bridge the gap between the TDM and IP-based worlds, TowerCloud is using pseudowire circuits, an option TowerCloud says is more efficient than using Ethernet over SONET because it helps carriers from stranding capacity, a typical method used by large incumbent wholesale carriers.
TowerCloud's bet is paying off. Since the company was founded in 2006, it has not only connected its network to 219 sites in Orlando, FL and Miami, FL, seventy percent of which are fiber. Last October, TowerStream secured $20 million in funding to expand its network presence into the Atlanta, Ga. market.
Going forward, TowerCloud will expand throughout the Southeast over the next few years. In 2010, the service provider will focus its expansion efforts on tier 2-3 markets in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. But Mudry's attitude about growth is not a build it and they will come mentality inherent during the late 1990s.
"You want to go into a market with a certain level of profitability with an anchor customer," Mudry said. "From there, we can grow that profitability by expanding the number of sites, adding additional customers on the same tower, growing your colocation rate and obviously bandwidth growth will be a huge driver. We typically see the collocation rates driving up an average of two customers per tower is a good business model."