AT&T's search for small-cell backhaul highlights opportunities for cable, telcos

Wireless operators are seeking an arsenal of backhaul tools to support their small cell deployments, as evidenced by AT&T's (NYSE: T) revelation that it will work with cable operators to test their HFC-based DOCSIS products for just that purpose. And backhaul providers such as cable operators and wireline telcos are lining up to satisfy demand.

"We see continued growth in the wireless backhaul market with the transition to small cell," said Jeremy Bye, vice president of carrier and wholesale at Cox Business, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Hopefully, as the equipment vendors move to more mature solutions in small cell that are more in line of where the mobile network operators want them to be from a cost perspective and probably smaller form and easier to fit on a strand mount, Cox is positioned to do well because we have powered plant."

Smaller telcos, such as Cincinnati Bell, which is selling its own wireless business to Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), will likely gain some new wireless-backhaul business. During the recent Stephens Spring Investment Conference, Cincinnati Bell CEO Ted Torbeck said, "We're probably too early in the process to understand the whole dynamics of small cell, but it's going to be a lot of business in Cincinnati." For more, see this column by FierceTelecom Editor Sean Buckley.