ClearSky, Knight partner on small cell deployment and management

ClearSky Technologies and Knight Enterprises are marketing a small cell as a service and lifecycle management platform dedicated to small cell deployments in the southeastern United States. The companies said they will help service providers plan out their small cell networks and are also offering network management services over the lifetime of the cells.

ClearSky is a hosted infrastructure and managed services provider, while Knight is one of the nation's largest broadband installation companies, with its primary focus on the cable broadband industry. The companies are marketing "end-to-end services including hot spot planning, design, site acquisition, backhaul sourcing, project management, installation, activation, monitoring, and break/fix" for small cell networks.

Once network planning is accomplished, service providers that want to outsource their small cell management can pay the partners a one-time installation fee and a fixed monthly fee per small cell. The monthly fee can also include the cost of the small cell itself in order to reduce upfront capex.

Dean Fresonke, ClearSky's senior vice president of business development, told Think Small Cell that the new partnership initially targets Tier 1 operators such as Sprint and T-Mobile US, which, unlike larger rivals AT&T and Verizon, do not have fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) businesses that they can leverage for small cell deployments at scale.

"Looking more widely afield, there are tremendous opportunities to offer similar capabilities throughout the North and South Americas. ClearSky is actively working with multiple partners to provide just that," he added.

ClearSky operates an NEC small cell gateway that supports WCDMA and soon will support LTE, Fresonke told Think Small Cell. ClearSky already has its own LTE core network.

In addition, the company, through an RF and network engineering partner, offers a software platform that provides design and planning analysis, which will be used in the new small cell offering. The tool can also display utility mounting points and fiber coverage maps sourced through Knight's utility and cable industry contacts.

"Using a single planning tool for hot spot analysis, backhaul planning and mounting locations, then rolling a single truck for backhaul and small cell installation followed by a single source for ongoing monitoring creates a powerful new paradigm," said Fresonke. "Our goal is to convert small cell installation from a costly, labor-intensive, piecemeal process to a fully integrated workflow."

According to Jeff Knight, president and CEO of Knight Enterprises, the company's ability to offer wholesale broadband pricing at a competitive rate "creates an opportunity for a wireless operator to eliminate the middle men and finally see some relief from both the high upfront and excessive ongoing costs of past small cell deployments."

For more:
- see this joint release
- see this Think Small Cell article

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