In a PR today, Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) announced a new service for wireless tower access. Now, that doesn't mean what I first thought it did, which was that the company was preparing to enter the fiber-to-the-tower market in force. They still might do that I guess but this offering seems to be more about bringing the tower to the fiber. That is of course much less capex intensive for Level 3, and allows it to squeeze a bit more revenue out of existing facilities.
Level 3 has "identified 300 tower-ready network sites with the geography and right-of-way access to support the addition of wireless towers." In other words, if a wireless carrier needs a tower in the area, Level 3 will help them build it next door. Who knows, they might even offer a slice of that licensed LMDS or microwave spectrum to throw into the deal. While some sites are in metro areas, most of the sites are of course in rural areas. In fact, this Tower Access offering is probably best seen in light of the company's extended on-net services and the deal with OpenRange. In other words, they're hoping to lure new wireless towers to the land on, adjacent, or whatever to all those amplification huts scattered all over the country on railroad rights of way etc.
It's a creative approach, but a necessarily limited one given that Level 3's facilities aren't that close together - one Tower Access site per market in most cases. So we're not talking about metro-wide wireless backhaul here, although each could serve as a local fiber backhaul access point for a wireless backhaul network in the area. I do look forward to the time Level 3 has the resources to pursue FTTT buildouts in force, though.
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