TowerStream has formed Hetnets Tower Corporation, which will offer wireless carriers and others a range of shared infrastructure services and access for mobile wireless Internet services.
“We are excited to launch our new subsidiary, Hetnets Tower Corporation,” said Jeffrey Thompson, Tower Stream president and CEO, during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call. “The explosion in mobile data in urban markets is driving a migration to small cell architecture, and the major carriers are presently focused on the densification of their networks.”
TowerStream’s fixed wireless infrastructure includes 1,500 rooftops with 3,000 Wi-Fi nodes. “Our fixed wireless, backhaul network and street-level rooftop locations enables us to quickly deliver solutions to the challenges associated with small cell deployments,” Thompson said.
Since 2010, TowerStream has been exploring opportunities to leverage its fixed wireless network in major urban markets to provide other wireless technology solutions and services. With the rise of mobile data placing a tremendous demand on the networks of the carriers, TowerStream concluded that its Wi-Fi network can serve carriers’ data offload needs.
“Densification is now the focus of the carriers. The densification calls for very large quantities of small cell and Wi-Fi antennas. We will align our rollout with the surgical approach and roll out with them as we sign each anchor tenant,” Thompson said. “Our buildup over the last 1.5 years has given us a significant first-mover advantage and has put us in a leadership position in small cell wireless shared infrastructure.”
The strategy of the wireless carriers in terms of small cell and Wi-Fi offload has evolved since the advent of Big Data. When TowerStream built its first test network two years ago, the business opportunity looked to include only pure Wi-Fi offload and it was considered by some to be short-term solution to the data congestion.
“Carriers expected through consolidation to acquire the spectrum needed for capacity,” Thompson said. “The consolidation did not end up being the solution, and the carriers have now looked to small cell network architecture and heterogeneous networks, also called hetnets, to meet the capacity demands. Wi-Fi is now part of the small cell architecture and part of the long-term solution along with metro cells and picocells.”
To serve this need, Hetnets Tower Corporation plans to rent space on street level rooftops for the installation of customer-owned small cells, which includes Wi-Fi antennas, DAS, and metro and pico cells. Channels on TowerStream’s Wi-Fi network will also be available for rent for the offloading of mobile data. Additionally, the new company will rent cabinets, switch ports, backhaul, transport, and power and power backup. The company will operate in 13 major metro markets, including New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Miami, Seattle, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Philadelphia, Nashville, and Las Vegas/Reno.