Macrocell Leader Crown Castle Wants to Lead in Small Cells as Well

Crown Castle International Corp. (the mobile tower company)  is buying Quanta Fiber Networks (a metro fiber services provider), and the stated rationale is to bolster Crown Castle’s position in the small cell services market.

Quanta Fiber Networks owns or has rights to nearly 10,000 miles of fiber in major metropolitan markets across the United States, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Silicon Valley, and northern New Jersey, with approximately 60 percent of Sunesys' fiber miles located in the top 10 basic trading areas ("BTAs") that arguably are top candidates for small cell networks of some size.

The acquisition of Sunesys will bolster Crown Castle's position in small cell networks by more than doubling Crown Castle's fiber footprint available for small cell deployments and expanding Crown Castle's presence in many of the top U.S. metropolitan markets.

Today, Crown Castle owns or has rights to approximately 7,000 miles of fiber supporting approximately 14,000 nodes, which contribute seven percent to each of Crown Castle's site rental revenues and site rental gross margin.

After the deal, Crown Castle will own or have rights to more than 16,000 miles of fiber suitable for supporting its small cell efforts.

That is the same sort of thinking driving Comcast’s thinking--and that of other cable TV networks--about potential uses for existing cable TV networks. Ask yourself which operators, in major markets, have dense optical fiber networks and high bandwidth nearly everywhere in a city, able to leverage those networks to support lower cost backhaul to large networks of small cells where backhaul costs are really crucial.

Looked at that way, Crown Castle will be aiming at high-density downtown areas, where cable will have the advantage outside the downtown cores.

Both strategies aim to repurpose existing assets in new ways.
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