Cincinnati Bell wins $30M small cell deal with unnamed 'national carrier'

Cincinnati Bell, which is exiting the retail wireless market at the end of the month, is not giving up on wireless entirely. The company said it recently struck a $30 million, multi-year small cell deal with an unnamed "national carrier."

"We believe this win is in the first step in a much broader opportunity for us, as we are uniquely positioned with both networking and wireless expertise," Cincinnati Bell CEO Ted Torbeck said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks. "All of our investments remain success-based and we will continue to actively monitor all the key metrics that drive return."

Torbeck added that "the fact that we have wireless expertise is a big plus in winning" small cell deals. He said the company has transferred wireless engineers to its business unit that works with other carriers, "and it's been very successful as they speak the same language as these carriers."

Cincinnati Bell CFO Leigh Fox said on the call that the company's "strategic capital investments" for 2015 are expected to be in the range of $50 million to $55 million for several projects, including the small cell deal.

While Cincinnati Bell declined to name the carrier it is working with on the $30 million small cell deal, a number of carriers have expressed interest in deploying small cells to augment capacity and densify their networks.

For example, AT&T (NYSE: T) has long said it plans to have 40,000 small cells deployed on its network by the end of 2015 as part of its Project VIP network modernization program.

Tony Melone, Verizon Communications' (NYSE: VZ) executive vice president of network, told investors earlier this week that "small cell deployments will be an increasingly cost effective way to add capacity, while at the same time improving cell-edge performance and, thus, further increasing the value of the spectrum we currently hold," according to Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks. Melone did not say how many small cells Verizon is planning to deploy.

Sprint (NYSE: S) has said it will use small cells to increase coverage and capacity on its network, and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has already deployed its first small cells.

Cincinnati Bell is in the process of shutting down its service and selling its spectrum to Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ). The carrier will continue to provide service to its wireless customers through Feb. 28.

For more:
- see this Seeking Alpha transcript
- see this FierceTelecom article

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