Zayo continues to see that dark fiber services-- something that traditional telcos won't offer-- is a growing factor in its wireless backhaul business.
Sprint CTO John Saw said that Sprint's network densification, which will include thousands of new macro cell sites and tens of thousands of small cells, will not be "a traditional slow and expensive build."
Verizon has deployed nearly 50 small cells in the Pittsburgh area. The deployment includes 15 cells in the Pittsburgh metro area. Crown Castle is handling the majority of the deployment with some assistance from ExteNet.
Towerstream expects to see growth from LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) and the Internet of Things (IoT) via 45,000 billboard locations, but small cells may be the real kicker.
The nation's wireless carriers are expected to put the finishing touches on their respective LTE coverage buildouts, and then will use techniques including small cells and carrier aggregation to add density and capacity to their networks, according to industry experts. Specifically, Sprint and Verizon Wireless have pointed to both small cells and carrier aggregation as elements of their respective network buildout strategies for the remainder of this year.
Sprint (NYSE: S) revealed a few more details about its network densification efforts but did not disclose its vendor partners for the project or exactly how many macro cell sites and small cells it will add to its network. However, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that "nearly all" of Sprint's existing macro cell sites will be upgraded to support 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz for LTE, which he said will improve coverage and capacity across the network.
Digital Bridge Holdings and StonePeak Infrastructure Partners have committed to more than $1 billion in a recapitalization of ExteNet Systems. The two firms will acquire the interests of existing investors plus provide added capital to grow the company and enable it to pursue small cell deployment opportunities.
Crown Castle offered a positive outlook on the U.S. tower industry, with CEO Ben Moreland predicting that "over the next several years, we believe that the current level of investment by U.S. wireless carriers will be sustained." He added that Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US have been the most active carriers in 2015 in spending on their networks, but he said AT&T and Sprint are expected to increase their own spending this year as well.
Verizon Wireless is currently deploying 4x4 MIMO (multiple input and multiple output) technology, involving 4 transmitters and 4 receivers, which the carrier said should enhance both its coverage and improve its LTE network performance. Mike Haberman, Verizon's VP of network support, also said the operator is actively deploying carrier aggregation technology in its 20x20 MHz spectrum channels and expects the effort will allow it to offer spectrum channels wider than a 20x20 MHz configuration in the future, which Haberman said would allow Verizon to offer faster peak wireless download speeds in the future.
Sprint has not yet announced its final plans for its "Next Generation Network" (NGN) network densification, but elements of it are starting to take shape. According to financial analysts who follow the carrier, the NGN program will include around 70,000 small cells, some unknown number of additional macro cell sites and will likely involve wireless backhaul technology using the 2.5 GHz band.