Verizon Wireless taps Tower Cloud for its Atlanta small cell network deployment

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) has named Tower Cloud as its backhaul partner for its new 4G LTE small cell deployment in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.

Designed to boost the wireless operator's area network capacity during large scale events such as concerts, charity walks and races, Verizon installed 22 small cell nodes covering the 22-acre park, which can handle over 5,500 simultaneous users.

Signals from each node are aggregated and connected via a fiber connection to the Tower Cloud network. This small cell deployment can deliver 80 Mbps of throughput and the speed and signal integrity is maintained from the nodes directly to the wireless carrier over the backhaul provider's fiber infrastructure.

For this project, Tower Cloud built dark fiber into the park and to each of the 22 small cell nodes. Each node will have four fibers, two of which will be operational and then two spares for backup.

Verizon Wireless' 700 MHz and 2.1 GHz signals will be carried over the dark fiber connecting the small cells to two macro cells via the Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) protocol.

Leveraging fiber to connect the small cell nodes, Verizon Wireless said it will be able to provide its customers a more reliable experience as they access services such as the web, social media, texting, uploading photos and even streaming videos.

"We knew we needed to boost capacity around Centennial Olympic Park so that consumers could utilize our network more effectively during large events," said Lynn Carlson, executive director--Network for Verizon Wireless in Georgia and Alabama, in a release. "Tower Cloud was the logical candidate to provide the broadband fiber to connect the Park's new small cell system."

Already providing last mile backhaul to a number of large wireless operators for their more traditional larger cell networks, Tower Cloud sees the small cell market as the next phase of its work in the wireless backhaul market.

"There's been a lot of hype around small cells and we're starting to see some opportunities for some real world deployments and Centennial Park was one of the first ones we did with Verizon Wireless," said George Townsend, senior vice president of business development for Tower Cloud, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "The park is a major area with a lot of events and we're just the dark fiber backhaul component of this project, while Verizon Wireless handled the street furniture aspect and the power."

While the company is hearing interest from other wireless operators to deploy dark fiber to small cells, Verizon Wireless is the only provider it is supplying service for this application today.

"Today, Verizon Wireless is the only one we are working on the small cells, but we're in talks with the other carriers, but haven't done any live deployments," Townsend said, adding that "we have won a couple more that are in the final signing stages." 

Although the small cell market is still in the embryonic stage, Infonetics Research forecasts that the small cell market will reach $2.7 billion in sales by 2017.  

Tower Cloud may be the latest wholesale provider to gain a foothold in the small cell backhaul market, but it's hardly alone. In the Southeast market it serves, there's new competition from a host of traditional service providers like AT&T and cable operators like Cox Business.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Tower Cloud adds 782 route miles to Central Fla. network, moves to 10G
Southern Telecom extends dark fiber to Tower Cloud's Ga. wireless backhaul network
Tower Cloud ups Atlanta network to 10G
Tower Cloud brings fiber reach into South Georgia

This story was updated with additional information from Tower Cloud.