Fatbeam snags two new dark fiber wireless backhaul deals, eyes small cell opportunities

Fatbeam has won two dark fiber lease fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT) backhaul deals with major wireless operators in Washington and Idaho, securing new revenue sources via long-term contracts that will be used to accommodate current 4G and upcoming 5G wireless networks.

Fatbeam did not name the actual carrier name to respect confidentiality in fiber routes and other competitive and security-related concerns.

Greg Green, CEO and founder of Fatbeam, told FierceTelecom that unlike previous fiber to the tower deals it has won in recent years, it sold the dark fiber to the wireless operator itself.

“These agreements represent the first time we have leased fiber directly to a cellular carrier,” Green said. “Historically Fatbeam had leased to other carriers which in turn resold our network to cellular providers. It’s a tribute to our industry credibility, financial stability and market growth that has helped us earn the respect of the larger carriers.”

RELATED: Fatbeam wins 11 new E-Rate contracts, builds 200 fiber miles to address wireless backhaul needs

While these deals are new, Fatbeam has continued to prepare its network builds with an eye towards serving various market opportunities. When it enters new markets to deliver, Fatbeam has initially targeted school E-Rate opportunities like Sandpoint, Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille School District.

In one of the latest fiber builds to accommodate school districts in four states—Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana—Fatbeam simultaneously built over 200 miles of fiber to “modernize wireless infrastructure” in these four states, but did not reveal what carriers would benefit from the upgrade.

Fatbeam is hardly alone in using this approach, which allows the service provider to get an anchor tenant and then attract additional customers.

Fellow dark fiber provider Zayo has continued to leverage and extend its FTTT builds to accommodate school districts. In Texas, Zayo has extended services to the area schools via a fiber network build that's under construction in Dallas-Fort Worth. The 1,178-mile platform consists of 440 miles of previously planned FTTT build, 443 miles of existing network and 295 miles of new construction.

But selling dark fiber for towers is just one part Fatbeam’s wireless operator dark fiber ambitions. The service provider is also aiming to play a role in the burgeoning small cell backhaul trend.

“We are also evaluating options to deploy small cells and best position ourselves for 5G innovation that the cellular world is preparing for,” Green said.