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Willingness to lay fiber likely helped Level 3 win Verizon LTE backhaul business


Level 3’s willingness to install fiber to cellsites was probably a significant factor in winning backhaul business to support Verizon Wireless’s LTE rollout—a key win for Level 3 announced today.

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The backhaul infrastructure that Level 3 will provide “is not entirely fiber but fiber is a large part of the solution,” said Amanda Tierney, Level 3 vice president of wholesale market management in an interview. Where fiber doesn’t already exist, Level 3 often will build it, Tierney said. “We think that’s one of the big values we bring—we have a willingness to build,” she said.

Tierney believes that the number one reason Level 3 won the business was that it offers “a nationwide solution that is comprehensive in terms of footprint and technology.” In addition, she said wireless carriers like the fact that Level 3 is a neutral partner that does not operate its own wireless network

Microwave is part of the solution
For rural areas in the western U.S. and New England, Level 3 will be supporting Verizon’s backhaul needs using its recently launched Tower Access solution, which uses microwave for the final link to the cell tower.

To support this solution, Level 3 splices into the regeneration facilities that are located at 50- to 60-mile intervals along its nationwide fiber route. “We can put a tower there and cross connect several cell towers to that node using microwave,” explained Tierney.

“Where building fiber doesn’t make sense, it’s a great way to fill in holes that were previously unreachable,” she said.

The idea of creating new access points to its long-haul network also helped Level 3 win a middle mile broadband stimulus award. Level 3 serves four of the nation’s five largest wireless carriers and “the majority includes a backhaul component,” Tierney said.


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