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Category Archives: DAS

Zayo Purchased by Ganzi’s Digital Colony, EQT

Acquisition is Latest in Global Buying Spree of Small Cell, DAS, Fiber Assets

Marc Ganzi’s vision of diversification took another big step yesterday as his global investment firm Digital Colony purchased fiber optic network provider Zayo Group, with the help of EQT Infrastructure IV fund, in a transaction valued at $14.3 billion. Zayo will transition from a public company to a private company but remain headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. The deal is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

Jennifer Fritzsche, senior analyst, Wells Fargo Securities, said. “Ultimately, we believe ZAYO will be a valuable asset within the acquirers’ portfolios and create natural synergies with their other investments. Digital Colony, through its partner Digital Bridge, touches many of the converging parts of the communications infrastructure ecosystem.”

Digital Colony is a combination of Digital Bridge Holdings, which is headed by Ganzi, and Colony Capital, a real estate investment management firm. Digital Bridge is a holding company that is quite diversified, owning Vertical Bridge, Mexico Tower Partners, ExteNet Systems, Databank, Vantage Data Centers and Andean Tower Partners.

As a global investment firm, Digital Colony focuses on next generation mobile and internet infrastructure – towers, data centers, small cells, and fiber.

Ganzi said, “Zayo has a world-class digital infrastructure portfolio, including a highly-dense fiber network in some of the world’s most important metro markets. We believe the company has a unique opportunity to meet the growing demand for data associated with the connectivity and backhaul requirements of a range of customers.”

Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are serving as financial advisors to Zayo Group in connection with the transaction and Skadden Arps is serving as legal counsel. Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank are acting as financial advisors to Digital Colony and EQT Infrastructure, and Simpson Thacher is serving as legal advisor.

Spencer Kern, analyst, New Street Research,  said the transaction was bad news for Crown Castle International. First, the pricing of transaction has negative implications because the implied multiple on Zayo’s fiber is 7x lower than the multiple placed on CCI’s fiber by the market.

“We don’t see any reasons why CCI’s fiber should trade at such a high premium to Zayo’s; at the multiple implied by the Zayo transaction, we see 8 percent downside to CCI’s stock price,” Kern wrote. “Second, the new ownership of Zayo could drive greater competition in small cells, putting pressure on CCI’s small cells win-rate, pricing, or both.”

A Busy Year for Digital Colony

Since its inception, Digital Colony has aggressively moved forward on Ganzi’s vision of diversification, with a particular emphasis on the United Kingdom. Last August, Digital Colony entered the U.K. indoor DAS and small cell market with an investment in Stratto, which offers an Infrastructure-as-a-Service business model.

On April 29 of 2019, the global investment firm announced further growth of its U.K. platform through the acquisition of iWireless Solutions, a small cell provider that serves large, high profile venues in the U.K. (London Olympic Stadium, Twickenham Stadium).

Last November, Digital Colony purchased Opencell, which provides multi-operator indoor coverage and currently has more than 2,000 cells across 100 networks that are used by all four U.K. mobile network operators. Opencell was then merged with Stratto.

“Our goal from day one has been to build the leading digital infrastructure platform that delivers exceptional indoor and outdoor network solutions to the mobile network operators in the U.K.; combining Opencell’s capabilities and active networks with the Stratto platform helps us accelerate those goals,” said Ganzi, in a November 2018 press release. “We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationships with our customers as well as positioning Digital Colony’s U.K. digital infrastructure platform as the recognized leader in the small cell sector.”

Outside the United Kingdom, Digital Colony Buys Fiber, Towers

Elsewhere in the world, Digital Colony has reached out and planted it flag. Last week, Digital Colony closed on the acquisition of Toronto-based, Cogeco Peer 1, a provider of colocation, network connectivity and managed services company. Cogeco Peer 1’s fiber business, which currently encompass more than 2,050 route miles of owned, dense metro fiber in Canada’s two largest urban markets, plans to become the country’s first neutral-host provider of small cell and 5G infrastructure and enterprise and wholesale fiber connectivity.

At the end of just Digital Colony completed its acquisition of Helsinki, Finland-based Digita Oy, which owns and operates the nationwide digital terrestrial television and radio broadcasting tower infrastructure network in Finland and is the largest independent owner of telecom towers in the country.

















DAS in the Desert: Coachella, StageCoach Roll Out Wireless for the Masses

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Massive events demand massive wireless. Sprawling across the Palm Springs desert in Southern California, the recently completed The Coachella Music and Arts Festival and the StageCoach Festival brought together hundreds of music acts and nearly 900,000 people, who communicated over a massive state-of-the-art DAS.

“This is the most complex design that I have seen in my career because it is a unique venue to begin with. Not to mention that Empire Polo Club is very particular about aesthetics,” said John Shubin, Advanced RF Technologies director of business development. “Because of the flat land underneath the Empire Polo Club, you have to get creative in sectorizing the DAS.

“You also have to take into account that there are multiple stages and some of them move around from one weekend to the next. There are also a lot of temporary structures that you have to account for,” he added.

Just designing Phase Two took six months and required some the best integrators in the business, including Communications Technology Services, Aztecs and Wes-Tec, as well as Pramira and Airtech.

DAS Blending into the surroundings.

“Something this large, and because of the time crunch, required top integrators working on the install of this project,” Shubin said. “We had the biggest, best and brightest integrators. They were all working together from the installation to optimization and commissioning.”

Coachella took place in April during two three-day weekends and then StageCoach ran the next weekend. The system gets a heavy work out during the festivals, providing service to the 99,000 music lovers per-day per day during the six days of Coachella, according to Goldenvoice, and to StageCoach’s 70,000 festival goers daily over three days.

In the previous years, communications needs were served by cells on wheels (COW). Last year, known as Phase One, marked the first year the festivals brought in Advanced RF Technologies’ DAS, which provided 39 single-in single out (SISO) sectors and was used by Verizon and T-Mobile. This year, the DAS grew to 82 multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) sectors for Verizon and T-Mobile and 39 single-in, single out (SISO) sectors for AT&T.

“We had to get creative about what we put out there. In the past the carriers just brought in COWs, but that was not meeting the communications needs of the festival goers. In stage one, they used some DAS using permanent poles, but it wasn’t enough,” Shubin said.

This year was called Phase Two and it brought in a slew of permanent poles, temporary poles and charging stations. “They really made it robust,” Shubin said. “A robust system is needed for that large of an audience.” In Phase Three, next year, AT&T will expand and maybe Sprint will join, depending on the fate of the T-Mobile merger.

Additional carriers can be added through the modular nature of ADRF Technologies’ ADXV series, which transmits from 600 MHz to 2600 MHz plus VHF and UHF frequencies. ADRF’s Citizen’s Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) module can also be added if needed in the future.

“The modularity of our fiber DAS, being able to add and remove frequency bands at will, was a differentiator for ADRF,” Shubin said.

ADRF’s ADXV in the ample headend

The coverage demand of nearly 100,000 people is only half the battle. In Indio, California, the network is subjected to severe heat, rain and even sand storms. The equipment’s IP66 rating is a sign that it is built to survive the climate and continue to operate.

“Last summer, in two different instances, the HVAC went out in the headend causing temperatures to soar to 138 degrees, and our equipment was still performing well,” Shubin said.

CASE STUDY: Osage Casino and Hotel Deploys DAS

JMA Wireless integrator Longent has installed the TEKO DAS at the Osage Casino and Hotel complex in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is now providing cellular coverage and capacity throughout the venue capable of supporting multiple network operators and frequency bands.

“We are confident our choice of the JMA/TEKO solution and Longent as the integrator provides our guest with outstanding cellular coverage,” said Joe Roybal, Chief Information Officer of the Osage Casino and Hotel.

JMA’s TEKO platform was chosen because it is a proven, award-winning solution with quality that’s second-to-none. The JMA Wireless team supported Longent through every phase of the project, providing design support, state-of-the-art technology, and constant availability during the construction process. The close partnership between JMA Wireless and Longent resulted in a very satisfied customer.

JMA Wireless TEKO DAS was deployed in fourteen weeks, phased across the newly constructed events center. The biggest challenge was installing into a venue that was still under construction, as well as meeting the goal of being on-air for the Grand Opening. The installation was spread out over time to allow the facility General Contractor to construct just ahead of where Longent needed to install the JMA equipment.

“The Osage Casino project is another effective example of how one of many Longent financial models accomplished the customer’s goal,” said Rick Youngbar, CEO at Longent, LLC. “Osage Casino and JMA Wireless were exemplary partners in this venture, and together we worked to accomplish a very successful project.”

Longent executives stressed that the entire team made the project a success, including the executives and staff at Osage Casino, who removed every roadblock that might have kept the project from being on time and at budget.

For more information, download the case study.


ADRF, Ranplan Partner for Wireless Network Design, Optimization

Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF), a DAS provider for public safety and commercial radio frequencies, will incorporate ADXV Series DAS and PSR Series repeaters, as well as future product specifications into Ranplan Wireless’ network modeling and design software via the Collaboration-Hub. The cloud-based Collaboration-Hub provides original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) greater control over intellectual property (IP) while allowing network engineers to design and deliver high-quality Public Safety, LTE and 5G systems.

With the proliferation of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) and re-use of a spectrum to provide capacity and coverage for emerging use cases, in-building designs can no longer be planned without assessing the mutual impact between other network layers such as outdoor small cells, ODAS, and macro sectors. The collaboration between OEMs and RF design tools is essential to accurately design modern multi-layer systems. This helps network design engineers addressing both in-building and heterogeneous networks to be confident that device specifications used in conjunction with advanced 3D propagation models match real-world performance and equipment functionality.

“Our partnership with Ranplan as a preferred OEM-Partner will benefit our new and existing partners in both the in-building and ODAS markets,” said Julie Song, President of ADRF. “ADRF continually updates our existing products and develops new solutions through our interaction with clients. Leveraging Ranplan’s new device platform ensures a constant feedback loop with our development teams and supports optimal usage of our products.”

“We are excited to add ADRF as a preferred OEM-Partner under the Ranplan Precision Design Initiative,” says Alastair Williamson, CEO at Ranplan Wireless. “Having a veteran supplier of commercial and public safety solutions for twenty years is a great addition to our network of OEMs. Working alongside our regional device database and international product management teams will help ADRF define new standards ensuring design accuracy in diverse indoor and outdoor scenarios for current and advanced technologies such as 5G.”

ADRF and Ranplan Wireless will host a training session May 14-16 in Dallas, TX, which will introduce the software and leverage ADRF components to create an in-building design. To learn more about ADRF’s solutions or Ranplan’s software and training, contact [email protected]

Mid-size Tower Company Branches into Neutral Host Networks

By J Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Alexander Novak, Director-Neutral Host Development

Horvath Communications, which has owned and developed cell tower sites throughout the country since 1996, is diversifying into neutral host networks. Last year, 20-year telecom veteran Alex Novak was hired by the South Bend, Indiana-based firm to head up the new division, identifying and securing venues for neutral-host site development. So far, more than a dozen neutral host networks are either built or under development.

Horvath is one of the first of the mid-size tower companies to make the leap into neutral host DAS and small cells. Larger companies, such as Digital Bridge, American Tower, InSite Wireless Group and Crown Castle International, have all reached beyond their tower cores. More recently, Phoenix Tower International did so through its purchase of Syscom Telecom, and SBA Communications has announced its entrance into DAS, Wi-Fi and CBRS, as well as Data Centers.

“We continue to build towers. That is still a strong part of what we do, but as more carrier budgets are geared toward the small cells and DAS, we thought we would use our carrier relationships and Alex’s real estate contacts to get involved in this portion of the industry,” said Jackie Horvath, president. “It is a divergence from towers, but it uses the same tower model. We are building a neutral host structure, where we rent space to the carriers or the enterprise.”

The Neutral Host Networks division includes DAS and small cells, and it has opened up an entirely new customer base for Horvath: the enterprise. Companies in multiple verticals have a need that they are looking to fill: in-building connectivity. The division is targeting properties that are a half million square feet and below, although it is currently consulting on a property with a million square feet. The Neutral Host Networks division is backed by partnerships with OEMs, including SOLiD, JMA Wireless, Zinwave, and engineering firms, such as Wireless Information Networks and Pierson Wireless.

“We have positioned ourselves to be the provider of DAS for the middleprize, which comprises the majority of the square footage across the country,” Novak said. “We have all the tools in the tool box to provide the customer with the right solution. We pull from each one of our partnerships on projects when it makes sense.”

Meeting the Financing Challenge

In-building wireless projects have traditionally met with resistance from enterprises that did not want to take on the capital expense of the network. Horvath’s model is to put up the capital for the entire project and then propose a lease agreement, changing it from a capex to an opex model.

“We use our relationships with carriers to try to get them to donate their signal source, if it is an active DAS,” Novak said. “There is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle between the carrier paying for all of the network and the building owner paying for the DAS. We aim to find it.”

Making Financial Sense

A good deal of Novak’s job so far has been educating enterprises on why carriers cannot be expected to provide coverage in all the buildings or on all campuses, and how filling that need with their own neutral host system makes sense from a financial viewpoint.

“When you look at the universe of real estate, multi-tenant office buildings, large apartment complexes and smaller hotels, it is too large for the carriers to fund,” Novak said. “We are educating the real estate industry on what these systems are and how they are going to add to the value of their property. And, although it is an expense, how it is going to be a positive for their bottom line, in terms of tenant attraction and retention.”

Horvath has Penetrated Several Verticals

So far, the Neutral Host Networks division has projects that are concentrated multiple verticals, including entertainment/theme park, hospitality, municipal/public right of way, university campus, office building and master-planned community.

“We are in the hospitality and office building segments and looking to get into healthcare and multi-family dwellings,” Novak said. “We have a good portfolio of theme parks. And we just won an RFP to provide smart poles for the city of Lexington, Kentucky.”

With high competition in the real estate market, more properties are looking for an edge through connectivity. In today’s New York Times, an article said, “To stay competitive, developers and landlords are being driven to add telecommunications infrastructure, video screens and, yes, glass that tints itself automatically. Developers and landlords that offer advancements in office space may be able to command premium rents.”

Novak agreed, “More and more, tenants are concerned with how their devices are going to perform in a space. Whether it is a multi-family dwelling where tenants have cut the cord or office space where top notch connectivity gives a building an edge over real estate with poor coverage, it is going to be a big market segment in the future. Hospitality is also going to be a big segment.”