Zayo wins C-RAN fronthaul deal with Tier 1 wireless operator, furthers dark fiber presence

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Zayo won a contract to deploy dark fiber-based connectivity for a Tier 1 wireless operator, signaling its growing presence in the C-RAN market segment.

For the first market, Zayo will provide what it calls an over the top fronthaul solution, providing incremental fibers on existing paths to supplement the existing network.

In the second market, Zayo will leverage its existing metro dark fiber assets to initiate service for the carrier in a new cluster of wireless network sites.

C-RAN fits in well with Zayo’s growing dark fiber business. As a centralized, cloud computing-based architecture for radio access networks that supports 2G, 3G, 4G and future wireless communication standards, the C-RAN transport network provides a connection between a Base-band Unit (BBU) pool and a Remote Radio Unit (RRU) network.

Leveraging similar systems as a traditional wireless network, the RRU provides basic wireless signal coverage, while the BBU pool is located at a centralized site and consists of time-varying sets of ‘‘soft’’ base band nodes.

The emergence of C-RAN is coinciding with the emergence of small cells to improve coverage in dense metro areas and even in sport arenas.

“There’s a lot of small cell activity,” said Dave Jones, EVP of dark fiber solutions for Zayo, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “Pretty much all of the small cell activity we’ve been seeing and bidding on and winning is in the form of dark fiber as opposed to lit services.”

The timing of Zayo’s latest C-RAN deal reflects the overall growth of mobile data.

Cisco revealed in its Visual Networking Index that global mobile data traffic grew 74 percent last year, forecasting that mobile compound annual growth rates of more than 50 percent through 2020. To accommodate current and future demand, wireless operators are taking steps to upgrade their networks now such as deploying C-RAN and small cell technologies.

This is just one of several large-scale wireless deals that Zayo has recently announced. Earlier in September, the service provider won a FTTT network backhaul deal where it is extending its dark fiber facilities to over 1,800 cell sites in 26 markets. As part of this build, Zayo will leverage the existing FTTT networks it has built out in 20 markets. This will enable Zayo to reduce capital costs to satisfy the wireless customer’s need to increase coverage and capacity.

For more:
- see the release

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