ftwr won a key Ethernet backhaul deal helping MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS, news, filings) build out their LTE network, the initial launch of which is scheduled for sometime in the second half of this year. FiberTower uses a hybrid approach to its backhaul networks, leasing or building metro dark fiber where it makes sense and using wireless backhaul to extend coverage where it doesn't. The relationship is not a new one, FiberTower has been supporting MetroPCS's wireless footprint in several markets since 2005. With this new deal, MetroPCS will be able to scale backhaul from its towers from a few megabits per second up to 1Gbps or more if the need arises - thus meeting the needs of the bandwidth-hungry devices LTE is designed to enable.
For FiberTower, 4G can't get here fast enough. While their hybrid fiber/wireless approach has always made a great deal of sense, the problem is that even with 3G there just wasn't enough demand for wireless bandwidth to bring in real dollars. That's why their revenues only hit 63.2M last year, and why EBITDA margins remain negative. But with 4G, there is the theoretical prospect of backhaul needs rising by an order of magnitude or even two over the next few years, and those levels of bandwidth would be enough.
Having restructured their balance sheet at the end of 2009, their one and only task right now is to find the 4G tsunami and ride it into the beach if they can.
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