Level 3 Communications may have not have pursued the tower backhaul opportunity as aggressively as its other fiber-based counterparts, but the service provider continues to see potential in extending its fiber to small cell deployments.
Wells Fargo Security analysts predict wireless carriers' near-term budgets will be allocated more toward distributed network systems (DNS) including small cells, DAS and Cloud-RAN, than traditional macro sites.
Zayo Group is in the process of installing 100 small cells around Wichita, Kans. in order to boost Verizon coverage in the area. But Zayo is holding on off on similar projects while the Kansas Governor's office considers a bill that would shift the permitting process for those types of deployments.
The worldwide market for small cells enjoyed 44 percent year-over-year growth in 2015, according to IHS. But it's still tiny compared to the global 2G/3G radio access network (RAN) market.
IHS Technology said small cell rollouts increased worldwide during 2015 but noted that the small cell equipment market remains tiny compared to the global 2G/3G radio access network (RAN) market.
Wireless operators may still be in the planning and early implementation of small cells, but Lightower is seeing these carriers asking for more turnkey installation and support for the radios.
BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk published a thorough and wide-reaching report on small cells and DAS deployments, culminating in the prediction that the proliferation of small cells may soon make it more difficult to install and deploy in metro markets.
BTIG's Walt Piecyk took a hard look at Verizon's math today, asking whether small cells really cost 80 percent less than spectrum.
U.S. carriers are increasingly turning to small cells to densify their networks, but the tower industry is in good shape in 2016 and beyond, Pacific Crest Securities wrote in a research note. And American Tower is particularly well positioned.
FairPoint said it is entering the dark fiber market in part to offer backhaul connections to the small cells being deployed by Verizon, Sprint and others. Chris Alberding, VP of product management at FairPoint Communications, said the company has not seen a large amount of small cell networks in Northern New England yet, but the provider wants to be prepared.