BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - To help wireless carriers stay ahead of the growing demand for top-quality, high-bandwidth wireless services, Verizon has begun using its advanced fiber-optic network to provide links to cellular towers and mobile switching offices.
The new links, provided by local Verizon fiber-optic facilities across the country, enable wireless carriers to offer next-generation services at ultra-high-quality levels that are difficult to achieve when using traditional copper-based or microwave links.
Thousands of Verizon Wireless' cell sites and mobile switching offices across the country are among the first being networked using the ultra-reliable Ethernet-based fiber-optic technology, under a contract negotiated with Verizon Global Wholesale, the company's U.S. wholesale division. The Verizon fiber links are available to other wireless carriers as well.
Quintin Lew, senior vice president of marketing for Verizon Global Wholesale, said, "In an increasingly wireless-dependent society, cellular carriers like Verizon Wireless are engineering their networks to meet both the exploding voice and data traffic demands of today and the capacity requirements that next-generation wireless technologies like LTE and WiMax will place on their facilities.
"Using fiber for what's called the 'backhaul' of traffic - from cell sites to the broader voice, data and video networks - provides an extraordinarily reliable option for the carriers. And Verizon Wireless has recognized that," he said.
Verizon's fiber backhaul solutions include a Switched Ethernet Service; an all-Ethernet option; and an Ethernet over SONET choice, where the data are sent using synchronous optical network (SONET) technology, and that provides dual routing of traffic through separate facilities and near-instant recovery should one of the links go down. In each case, data from the cell site is converted immediately to packetized data for transport to mobile telephone switching offices for distribution over appropriate networks.
Nicola Palmer, vice president of network support for Verizon Wireless, said: "Verizon's fiber-optic Ethernet backhaul capabilities play an important role in our current network and will be a key part of our overall 4G/LTE rollout strategy. We have invested more than $5.5 billion on average every year in expanding and fortifying our network capabilities to ensure we maintain our reputation as the nation's most reliable wireless network."
Lew added: "Current traffic demands and emerging broadband services and traffic volumes are eclipsing the capacities of older technologies, and wireless carriers are increasingly realizing that fiber is the link to the future. Fiber backhaul leverages the features only fiber-optics can provide."
Besides virtually unlimited capacity made possible by adding additional wavelengths of light to feed more data onto fibers, as needed, fiber networking is more reliable because there are fewer electronics in the links. Also, fiber does not suffer the same impact of weather or electromagnetic interference that can plague microwave and copper-based links. Ethernet-based transport adds flexibility and economy.
The wireless industry faces unprecedented demand for current and future services. Carriers are reporting that data traffic, including Web access, video messaging and other services, has begun to outpace voice traffic. Carriers also are designing and are expected to begin deploying this year the new super-capacity wireless broadband technologies known as 4G services. These will be capable of the kinds of broadband speeds needed not just for mobile users, but to deliver broadband through fixed-location systems to customers in rural areas that are difficult to reach with cable-based technologies.
Verizon's fiber-backhaul availability leverages both the company's transition in recent years from copper to fiber in its transport facilities as well as its aggressive fiber-to-the-home deployment that is delivering FiOS Internet and FiOS TV services in parts of 16 states, and that puts fiber within reach of approximately 85 percent of various carriers' existing cell sites.
"We have the right technology in the right place at the time," Lew said. "Wireless carriers will find value in switching from traditional backhaul links to the higher-value connections we can give them with Ethernet and SONET services on fiber."
Verizon Global Wholesale is solely focused on providing solutions to U.S.-based wholesale customers including wireless carriers, long-distance and local service providers and Internet service providers. With more than 3,000 customers, VGW delivers the latest technologies and services to its customers over the global Verizon networks.
VGW has a program-management team focused specifically on fiber-to-the-cell-site implementation and support of wireless carriers interested in taking advantage of fiber backhaul.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 80 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 224,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com .