Sprint has added a new company to its list of small cell vendors. Casa Systems said Sprint will use its small cell gateway.
Small cells have been an important part of Sprint’s network strategy for several years. The carrier has historically relied on Airspan for much of its small cell hardware. Recently, Sprint also announced a partnership with Corning's SpiderCloud Wireless for indoor small cells.
Sprint has also partnered with cable operators Altice USA and Cox, both of which can support small cell deployments with cable infrastructure. Right now Sprint uses Airspan small cells for its strand mount solutions deployed on cable infrastructure.
In early May, Casa announced a new product that it calls a PicoStrand RAN solution.
"The Apex PicoStrand takes advantage of existing cable strand to cost-effectively support two LTE carriers. CBRS along with several LTE-FDD and LTE-TDD licensed bands are supported," the company wrote on its website. Casa, whose primary customers are cable operators, said that using cable strand for small cells will enable wireless service providers to leverage DOCSIS for backhaul and to use the hybrid fiber-coaxial plant for power.
Casa CEO Jerry Guo said on the company’s first quarter earnings call, transcribed by Seeking Alpha, that Casa is talking to its carrier customers about expanding into new geographies and new product areas. Casa’s small cell portfolio includes indoor and outdoor small cells, as well as a small cell management server and the small cell gateway.
So far, Casa's investors are not convinced that the company will become a major supplier to the wireless industry.
"Investors were skeptical regarding wireless at the time of the recent IPO and remain so, even with the announced awards," analyst Simon Leopold of Raymond James & Associates wrote in a research note. Leopold added that he is bullish on Casa's wireless business, but sees it as "more of a 2019 opportunity."
Casa's recent earnings announcement did not include an upward revision to the company's forecast, and investors were disappointed. The company's shares were down more than 11% following the earnings release.
Article updated May 15 to clarify Sprint's use of Casa's small cell gateway.