A Chicago wireless service provider (WSP) wanted to use fiber backhaul for more than a hundred sites to improve bandwidth and accommodate planned high-traffic 4G LTE service rollouts.

While the WSP already had fiber to most of the locations, the existing fiber had limitations and competitive fiber added unnecessary cost. To go from the cell site to the aggregation site, the fiber went through patch panels, and the optical signal had to travel farther than if it followed a direct path, resulting in loss of signal quality.

Crown Castle already had fiber in the famous downtown Chicago Loop, but had to provide fiber-to-the-cell (sometimes called fronthaul) in the suburbs. Crown Castle overcame the existing fiber limitations by:

  • Building direct fiber paths from hub to cell, reducing delay — an important parameter for mobile handoff of a call from cell to cell
  • Splicing fiber connections to minimize noise and reflected power, improving signal quality
  • Installing new fiber cables where needed and pulling fiber inside buildings to the cell site electronics

In addition, Crown Castle had the ability to provide :

  • Additional small cell solutions (SCS) in weak-signal or high-data-traffic areas
  • Financial terms which let the WSP balance capital and operating expenses
  • The choice between lit or dark fiber
  • Infrastructure that could be scaled up and shared with other WSPs with minimal effort

WSP benefits of working with Crown Castle: 

  • Proven track record of building and deploying fiber networks
  • 6,000 route-miles of dark fiber in major metropolitan areas across the US
  • Deploys leased dark fiber to cell sites from the local MSC (Mobile Switching Center) via designated POPs (points of presence) or hubs
  • Offers economically priced carrier-class fiber
  • Supports a minimum 1 Gbps of bandwidth per strand
  • Uses dark fiber, giving the WSP significant long-term control of the technical design and operation of a carrier-class, IP-based network
  • Ring-to-star architecture dedicates a fiber strand to each site, providing the operator with the highest level of control and security

Download a PDF of this project.