FierceTelecom 2010 Prediction: Wholesale wireless backhaul demand will rise

Wireline wholesalers that sell wireless backhaul services are probably saying to themselves, 'thank you Steve Jobs and the iPhone, you just gave us even more business we can sell to wireless operators looking for backhaul capacity.' The demand for these services is driving wireless operators to up their backhaul capacity, and now there is a host of emerging and existing wholesale players offering new options. 

Once dominated by the traditional ILECs, who sold not much more than T1 circuits to other providers who are in essence their competitors, the wholesale wireless backhaul market is attracting a host of alternative players (CLECs, cable operators, traditional wholesalers, backhaul specialists and Virtual Network Operators). Out of this group, cable MSOs are one to keep an eye on in the 2010 wholesale wireless backhaul race. Charter and Cox have set aggressive build-out paths for wireless backhaul that complement their business network rollouts. Charter, for one, said that the demand it's getting from potential customers is driving it to ramp up its staff to accommodate the wireless backhaul need.

That's not to say the incumbents aren't innovating with wireless backhaul. The U.S. ILECs (AT&T, Qwest and Verizon) all have responded to the need with traditional TDM (DS-3), hybrid solutions (EoSONET) and Ethernet. In preparation for 2010 and beyond, Qwest--a carrier that does not have a wireless arm--previously said that despite relatively flat capital spending outlook, it has gotten requests from unnamed wireless operators to upgrade 7,500 of 17,000 sites in its territories. Backhaul will continue to become of greater importance especially as wireless operators move forward with their 4G wireless roll outs. Infonetics confirmed such findings in its 4G Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey that as wireless operators begin their respective migrations to LTE between 2012 and 2014 "backhaul is the top-rated 4G challenge for carriers planning an upgrade to 4G." All of this adds up for potentially a lucrative future for the wholesale providers in 2010.

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