PEG Bandwidth: Wireless operators are pulling back on rural dark fiber backhaul initiatives

PEG Bandwidth is one of the many competitors that are willing to provide dark fiber services to wireless operators like Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), but the company is seeing some carriers put their plans on hold.

"We're seeing dark fiber to the tower get pulled back much more than we have seen" in the past, said Greg Ortyl, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing, in an interview with FierceTelecom

What's giving wireless operators pause on dark fiber initiatives, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets, are a number of issues, including all that money spent on the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction.

Ortyl added that the slowdown is mostly being seen in rural Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. "There seems to be some kind of a threshold based upon the size of the market," Ortyl said. "The Tier 1s are moving forward aggressively, but as you get down to the Tier 2 markets, some are on hold and certainly Tier 3 and below are on hold."

However, dark fiber is only one part of PEG's equation. PEG continues to grow its fiber-to-the-tower footprint, having announced just last week that it lit 2,000 wireless cell sites with fiber.

Ortyl said that the company continues to see orders come in for its traditional managed service products, including Ethernet services for wireless operators.

Although the wireless backhaul land rush has slowed a bit, the service provider continues to see a steady stream of orders.  

"There are some folks out there that have seen it slowed down, but we think we'll see continued activity for the next few years at least," Ortyl said. "As some of the initial backhaul awards from 2009 and 2010 come out of term, we believe there's a lot of microwave sites that will need more permanent solutions over the next few years."

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