Korea Telecom, like Verizon, now sees different strategic value for the fixed network. AT&T likely agrees, up to a point.

The stated upside for Korea Telecom fixed transport network capacity upgrades is said to be “home video, mobile broadband, and VIP leased lines.” None of those drivers–consumer video, cell tower backhaul and leased lines for business–are new.  KT and other tier-one service providers already provide those services to customers. 

 

What is different is the view of the value of the fixed network as backhaul for mobile broadband. Again, while mobile backhaul has been key revenue driver for cell tower connections, coming small cell requirements represent a qualitative change.

It is one thing to support networks of macrocells. That fiber-to-tower market has been important for many service providers for some years. But the density of the trunking network will change in qualitative ways. 

 

Where cell tower backhaul once involved connecting macrocells to mobile switching centers, and often could be done using point-to-point microwave, mobile Internet now often requires “fiber to the tower.”

But it is one thing to provide backhaul for a network of macrocells spaced about every six to 15 miles apart. It is quite another thing to support small cells in urban areas that are much more dense.

If in some urban areas the density is roughly “fiber to every other light pole,” that implies potentially millions of new backhaul sites to be supported. That, in turn, presumes a much-more-dense optical trunking network, not as dense as “fiber to the home,” but more dense than many “fiber-to-node” deployments.