TMobile today announced who won the backhaul contracts for 6 of the 27 top markets in which they are supposed to roll out their new GSM network next month. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll notice that three of the four are private companies that have shown up in my research on metro fiber footprints, the fourth being a cable company. Congrats to all four, these deals mark a turning point in that one no longer has to go to the ILEC in these locations – that infrastructure will now be in place on independent fiber.
Zayo won the contracts in Memphis and Philadelphia, we already knew they were building fiber to towers at an amazing rate in those markets and now we know at least one of the carriers that have been driving that effort. FPL Fibernet, which won the South Florida contract (Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale) doesn’t have much public information about their on-net footprint, but they are an arm of FPL – the power utility down there – which means they do towers quite well. We don’t hear much from them, but this announcement proves they are a player in the region. Bright House Networks of course is a cable company, they’ve always been a potential player in backhaul in their region, and now they actually will be in the Tampa and Orlando markets.
But the most interesting player of the 4 contract winners, to me anyway, is IP Networks‘ win of the San Francisco area backhaul contract. IP Networks is the perhaps smallest of the four, with 400 route miles of fiber hooking up mostly datacenters – although information is minimal so who really knows. But the contract is huge – over 1000 towers to be put on-net, so whatever they might have been before this contract, they are a major player in the bay area now. Apparently their network is based on Pacific Gas & Electric assets, which will give them the reach they will need – learn something new every day. The assets of power companies often help for tower companies, it is the PPL Telcom assets that give Zayo its boost in Philadelphia for instance. However, given the wide range of other competitive bidders for this area, I would have expected the deal to wind up in the hands of someone like TW Telecom or Level 3.
Now the next question to be answered is: who won the other 21 markets? Those would be the minor (hah) markets of New York City, Austin, NJ/Long Island, Minneapolis, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New England, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Washington DC, Birmingham, and Phoenix. I’m sure they spread the love around further and even when to the ILEC in places, yet I’d expect TW Telecom and Level 3 would not be shut out and Abovenet or XO could land one here or there. Will TMobile announce more such wins?
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