While fiber to the cell site (FTTC) may be the end-game for wireless backhaul, Qwest Wholesale (NYSE: Q) realizes that not every wireless operator may need a fiber connection for every one of their sites right away.
To address the reality that wireless operators are in various stages of migration from current 2G and 3G networks to 4G, Qwest Wholesale has debuted its Adaptive Broadband wholesale product, a product that provides a migration path from traditional legacy T1 circuits to emerging technologies such as fiber-based Ethernet that provide higher bandwidth and lower unit costs.
With over 2,000 sites set to come online the end of the year, Qwest is no slouch in the FTTC department, but the Adaptive Broadband product effectively gives the wireless operator customer a blueprint to plan out their total wireless backhaul capacity needs.
"What we were able to do was go through this experience of increasing bandwidth, particularly fiber to cell sites and say we could probably do this better," said Roland Thornton, executive vice president, Qwest Wholesale in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We could also provide service to them better if we could provide a better product offering."
Of course, the challenge for wireless operators today is how can their wireless backhaul network support ongoing growth of bandwidth hungry devices like the iPhone and tablet computers, but do so in a way that does not overwhelm them with greater costs?
Qwest's Adaptive Broadband addresses the migration and cost issues by providing improved pricing and Ethernet connections with various discounts.
"Given the expansive network facilities we have in our 14-state region what we have done is look at the copper base our customers have with us and looked at the capacity demands they have going forward, which we have heard will double every year through 2014," Thornton said. "If you're a wireless service provider trying to stay in front of that capacity consumption and manage your costs to migrate to fiber-based backhaul and that's what this product does for us."
Thornton added that the new product "takes a copper-based infrastructure and considers the physics of moving off of that and gives customers credit by looking at the physical capability of migrating off copper to fiber."
By helping wireless operators look at their total capacity needs, they can effectively extend the life of their copper base they have and meet their customer demands and simultaneously work with both fiber and copper as needed. While Qwest Wholesale did not reveal any customers, it did reveal that it has tested it with a few that were receptive to the approach.
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