If you are a cellular company, Verizon wants to put its wholesale backhaul capacity to work for you - regardless of who you are. As carriers look to make deals at CTIA next week, will this not-so-subtle pitch them over - or is Verizon suggesting that other backhaul options don't have the bandwidth chops in the faster moving worlds of WiMax and LTE?
Announced in a press release on Thursday, Verizon said it is using its fiber-optic network to provide links to cell towers and mobile switching offices across the country at "ultra-high-quality-levels that are difficult to achieve when using traditional copper-based or microwave links."
Also no state secret, "thousands" of Verizon Wireless cell sites and switching offices around the country are "among the first" using the "ultra-reliable" Ethernet-based fiber optic technology, under a contract worked out with Verizon Partner Solutions - the company's U.S. wholesale division. But would observers expect such backhaul work to fall to, say, AT&T or Level 3? Don't think so.
The kicker: "The Verizon fiber links are available to other wireless carriers as well." Verizon goes on to say they have a switched Ethernet service, an all-Ethernet option and an Ethernet over SONET choice with the sort of carrier-class quality (dual routing through separate facilities, "near-instant" recovery).
Fiber and Ethernet are the two key technologies to successfully supporting high-speed broadband wireless. Fiber is necessary to provide the sheer raw bandwidth capacity to support the greater demands of WiMax and LTE -- and even today's EVDO and GSM-based technology in densely-populated areas -- while Ethernet provides a simplified, plug-and-play, "flattened" technology out of the confusion of TDM-based solutions.
Still, who's buying? In preparation for its WiMax efforts, Sprint also upgraded its backhaul network. While ClearWire is now a separate and independent entity, one might suspect there might be an institutional bias for the company to purchase the majority of its backhaul services from Sprint if all other factors are (more or less) equal. AT&T Wireless might be tempted, but AT&T wholesale is likely to be the first in line.
Temptation might fall to Cox and its plans to roll out a 3G network. While Cox is working with Sprint for roaming rights as it builds out its CDMA-based 700 Mhz network, the company want to keep its backhaul options open moving forward.
Verizon eyes long-haul optical overhaul
He who has the best technology wins - FierceTelecom