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Exalt Survey: Although CCA Members Have Made Significant Progress in Leveling Playing Field with Largest Mobile Operators, Challenges Remain

While 90 percent of CCA members surveyed have already or plan to implement LTE, TDM will remain part of their networks for years, and many struggle with backhaul bottlenecks and spectrum availability

CAMPBELL, Calif. — October 23, 2012 — Exalt Communications today released the findings of a blind survey of members of the Competitive Carrier Association (CCA). The survey identified issues facing rural, regional, and smaller national wireless carriers as they seek to offer consumers more choices when it comes to providers of wireless service. Results indicate that although CCA member organizations are generally smaller in scale with correspondingly fewer resources than their larger counterparts, they are aggressively investing in their networks in order to be able to offer subscribers a choice with respect to advanced 4G LTE services. The survey also reveals that work still remains, especially with respect to the transition to all-IP networks and backhaul technology.

Founded in 1992 by nine rural and regional wireless providers as a carrier-centric organization, the CCA has grown to become the nation’s leading association for competitive wireless providers serving all areas of the United States. Currently, the licensed service area of the CCA’s carrier members covers more than 95 percent of the nation. Some of the key issues impacting members’ abilities to compete in the national mobile operator market include automatic data roaming, interoperability throughout the 700 MHz spectrum, Universal Service Fund reform, spectrum policy and licensing issues, and handset exclusivity.

Exalt commissioned the blind survey of CCA members in advance of the association’s yearly conference in September in order to determine attitudes and opinions related to key competitive issues. Approximately 21 percent of the organization’s total membership responded. Exalt found that many CCA members still face obstacles with respect to their efforts to compete with the largest nationwide carriers. Among the key findings:

  • 50 percent of respondents reported that they expect TDM backhaul to remain on their networks for the next two to five years or beyond, necessitating investment in technology capable of carrying both native TDM and IP traffic across their networks
  • Just 15 percent of respondents have employed microwave solutions for backhaul, with 70 percent reporting that they use fiber connections to backhaul data – a relatively expensive option not available in all geographic areas
  • 15 percent primarily employ legacy technology in the form of T1 lines for backhaul

Overall, survey respondents indicated they are facing trends that are rapidly transforming their networks. Chief among these is the migration from TDM to IP networks in order to accommodate increasing data traffic resulting from an expected surge in the number of smartphones and other devices on their networks, and the resulting uptake in mobile broadband data services. The availability of cost effective, next-generation access and backhaul technologies ensures that competitive carriers can answer these challenges and provide the coverage and types of services commensurate with their larger competitors.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 90 percent of survey respondents reported that they are either in the process of implementing LTE or will be doing so in the next 12 – 24 months
  • 55 percent of respondents purchased 700 MHz wireless spectrum in order build out their 4G LTE networks
  • 70 percent of respondents indicated that the continued availability of spectrum for backhaul transport is either critical or extremely important.

“The existence of an organization like the CCA ensures that customers living outside of major metropolitan areas have access to the same level and quality of services as those served by the largest mobile service providers,” said Greg Gum, Exalt senior vice president of marketing and business development. “CCA member companies have made and are continuing to make major strides in their efforts to offer services on par with the major mobile operators, and we support those efforts by providing cost-efficient, robust wireless microwave backhaul solutions to carry their TDM and Ethernet traffic reliably across their coverage areas.”

About Exalt Communications
Exalt Communications provides next-generation microwave backhaul systems to mobile operators, service providers, government agencies, and enterprises worldwide. Exalt systems are designed to solve the network bottlenecks associated with the growing demand for IP-based voice, data, and video applications and the resulting migration from TDM to IP-based networks. With a flexible architecture and universal product platform covering multiple market segments, Exalt provides a full range of microwave backhaul systems that meet the demand for cost-effective and flexible alternatives to fiber and leased lines.


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