Fresh off its big M&A announcement earlier this month, Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) today let everyone know that it is one of the backhaul powers behind the LTE rollout of none other than Verizon Wireless. Level 3 is supplying both backbone infrastructure and cell-site backhaul to the US wireless giant to help prepare for the coming wireless data wave. Unlike the exaflood which has never yet materialized in an actual form worthy of fear, I don't think anyone doubts that demand for wireless bandwidth could easily swamp supply in the short term.
On the cell-site backhaul front, in a number of rural markets in New England and the Western United States Level 3 is providing a combination of connectivity to existing cell towers with some colocation and new tower construction at Level 3 sites. In the fall of 2009 they announced a tower-to-the-fiber product, but they are obviously also doing some fiber-to-the-tower now as well since the bandwidth is becoming meaningful enough. That Level 3 is supplying backbone infrastructure to Verizon Wireless to go with it is a no-brainer, I do believe they have been a customer for a long time for such services - but it's very nice to hear confirmation of that alongside growing capacity requirements.
Obviously Verizon Wireless is leveraging many other company's local network assets outside their ILEC turf as well. Qwest, Conterra, DukeNet, Telecom Transport Management, US Carrier, and FiberTower announced similar deals a few weeks ago. No doubt there will be more to come - nobody has local assets everywhere.
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