Verizon Wireless’ CTO recently said the carrier prefers fiber for its wireless backhaul, but that it wouldn’t preclude using microwave. (For more, see Verizon Wireless CTO Addresses LTE, VoLTE, Backhaul). In light of that, last week, Level 3 Communications was tapped to provide Verizon Wireless with mobile backhaul in some rural areas with a solution that involves microwave.
Level 3 is supporting cellsite backhaul requirements in a number of Verizon Wireless markets in New England and in the western United States by leveraging its recently launched “Tower Access” solution that combines connectivity to existing cell towers with a mix of new on-site tower construction and colocation at Level 3 sites.
The Tower Access solution is designed for rural areas where laying fiber doesn’t make sense. "Many carriers’ first choice is fiber, but the struggle is with difficult locations to reach," says Amanda Tierney, vice president/Wholesale Market Management at Level 3.
Tierney says Level 3’s fiber network has amplifiers, or "regeneration facilities," every 50 to 60 miles, adding, "We’ve developed this capacity to go in on one of those regeneration facilities closest to the tower and splice the network there. Either our customer or our partner creates the microwave link."
According to Tierney, Level 3’s Tower Access product, which was introduced in the fall of 2010, helps extend Level 3’s reach into the last mile to provide a comprehensive solution to such customers as Verizon Wireless. "There are many players in the field for easy-to-reach locations," she notes. "The ability to splice out our network is something that’s unique. For our customers, it’s a differentiator."