Hargray, which runs competitive local exchange, cable and wireless phone services in several South Carolina markets, is tapping T-1 emulation technology from Vyyo subsidiary Xtend to supply its own T-1 backhaul from 15 cell tower sites in Beaufort and Bluffton, S.C. via its HFC (hybrid fiber/coax) network. Plans are to extend that to 32 more in the coming months.
The idea is to save money by providing its own backhaul rather than tap a local telco for a more traditional and more expensive T-1. Hargray had experimented with cable-based T-1 services in the past, but until it found Xtend’s offering, these attempts were plagued with latency problems, said Ed Heuck, Hargray’s vice president of technology.
“With the Vyyo (Xtend) product we got it down far enough that we could hand off between a copper T-1-fed cell site and an HFC-fed cell site,” he noted.
While the main driver was to cut its own cellular backhaul costs, Hargray is now readying to shop that same HFC-fed T-1 service to fellow wireless carriers with base stations on those same towers. Typically, four to six cellular providers are collocated on the same tower, and that could provide a good new revenue source, Heuck said.
“We got to thinking, if we can go to these wireless companies and sell them a T-1 for $100 or $200 cheaper than what they are paying for it now, we’d be able to draw in some of that traffic,” he said. “And the equipment cost is so low that in four months, we break even, and after that it is pretty much gravy for us.”
Meanwhile, Hargray is also planning to start testing Xtend’s 3 GHz out-of-band technology early in 2006. If successful, that could be used in other commercial service plays, Heuck says.
Xtend’s T-1 service provides a symmetric 1.544 Megabit-per-second connection using hybrid fiber/coax.