ExteNet Systems has reached an agreement with Spurs Sports & Entertainment to deliver 5G cellular communications in the AT&T Center arena, home of the San Antonio Spurs. Monnie McGaffigan, chief revenue officer at ExteNet Systems, said the state-of-the-art installation would bring fans an immersive experience throughout the arena for Spurs home games, in addition to more than 100 annual events.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment has awarded ExteNet Systems a long-term agreement to bring a 5G neutral-host network into the arena to serve the 18,000 fans who attend home games for the five-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and concerts and entertainment events that fill the arena throughout the year, ExteNet Systems said.
“ExteNet has designed a secure, future-upgradable and ultra-fast 5G network that is fiber optic-based to ensure all mobile operators who join the network will be able to provide their customers the best experience,” said Rich Coyle, the company’s president and CEO.
Extenet Systems said it is the largest privately held provider of secure 5G and fiber neutral-host communications infrastructure in the United States, serving mobile network operators, real estate owners, enterprises, content providers, wholesale carriers, municipalities and rural internet providers.
“Our solutions operate in urban, suburban and rural markets, connecting customers to the applications and services they need outdoors and in hundreds of sports and entertainment venues, hotels, resorts, convention centers, commercial office buildings, college campuses, healthcare facilities and transit systems,” the company said.
ExteNet Systems, a company that owns secure 5G and fiber-fed neutral-host communications infrastructure, has hired Saroosh Ahmed as chief financial officer, the firm disclosed. In taking the ExteNet Systems post, Ahmed exits a similar position at Sidecar, a performance marketing provider for e-commerce, ExteNet Systems said. Ahmed was a principal in the December 2021 sale of Sidecar to Quartile, which ExteNet Systems said formed the world’s largest cross-channel e-commerce advertising platform.
ExteNet Systems cited Ahmed’s 20 years of leadership in corporate growth strategy, financial operations, capital management, and mergers and acquisitions in a statement about his hiring.
“Before joining Sidecar in 2019, Saroosh served as senior vice president of finance at Datapipe, a global provider of managed cloud solutions that was successfully acquired by Rackspace in 2017,” the statement reads. “Saroosh held senior finance and general management positions at Time Warner Cable and RCN, where he successfully led innovative new business unit growth efforts and drove improvements in financial and operational performance within those companies.”
Rich Coyle, president and CEO of ExteNet Systems, said that Ahmed would have a mandate to innovate and advance the company’s competitive level of play in business management, growth, transparency and value creation for customers and for the company.
Ahmed said that ExteNet Systems has a leadership team with experience in its markets, a portfolio of infrastructure assets and relationships, access to capital and a focus on growth and value creation.
“ExteNet Systems is the nation’s largest privately held provider of secure 5G and fiber neutral-host communications infrastructure solutions serving mobile network operators, real estate owners, enterprises, content providers, wholesale carriers, municipalities and rural internet providers,” the company statement reads. “Our solutions operate in urban, suburban and rural markets connecting customers to the applications and services they need outdoors and in hundreds of sports and entertainment venues, hotels, resorts, convention centers, commercial office buildings, college campuses, healthcare facilities and transit systems.”
ExteNet Systems, a private owner and provider of 5G wireless communications infrastructure and neutral-host facilities, can proceed with construction of 10 small wireless facilities in Plandome, a village in New York, following a federal district court ruling that the company said would have implications on the regulation of small cell wireless networks beyond the deployment in Plandome.
On Sept. 30, Federal Judge Gary R. Brown of the Eastern District of New York ordered the Plandome to “issue all necessary permits and authorizations” to allow ExteNet to proceed with its construction of the small wireless facilities, a statement from ExteNet reads. The company said the construction would enhance wireless access for residents of the north shore of Long Island. ExteNet said it initially approached the village for such permits in 2017 and worked with the village representatives to design and minimize the number of facilities and their aesthetic effect. In November 2019, the village denied ExteNet’s application, and ExteNet brought the court action pursuant to the federal Communications Act.
In response to what ExteNet called a long path toward approval, the company said, Brown noted that “it was [ExteNet] who engaged in good faith in a particularly arduous and drawn-out application review process for over a year, only to have its application denied on mere pretense.”
ExteNet said that Brown noted that the village’s court pleadings “are rich in heated invective but poor in supporting facts or law” and found that the village attempted to “entertain an unsubstantiated caricature of [ExteNet] more befitting of a Disney villain than a, frankly, rather quotidian wireless service contractor.”
The court decision mentioned that ExteNet does not provide macro towers and further said that the village cited ExteNet’s failure to consider installing a macro cell instead of a small cell network as one of the reasons for denying ExteNet approval to install small cells. The court recounted that ExteNet established on multiple occasions that it did not construct macro cells and was not in the business of doing so.
Nevertheless, the court said, at Plandome’s request — and in apparent conflict with its own economic interest — ExteNet reached out to Verizon to inquire as to the possibility of installing a macro cell as an alternative to the proposed small cell network. Verizon apparently affirmed that it was sticking to the small cell plan, the court said. This seemed to be surprising, the court said, given that even ExteNet’s own representatives testified that macro cells are typically more appealing to service providers like Verizon because they are far less expensive.
However, the rationale became clearer in light of the village deputy mayor, Ray Herbert, acknowledging that service providers previously had approached the village about installing macro towers, and a solution could not be arranged. The court referred to a series of emails sent from a macro cell contractor, Elite Towers, to the village government from 2014 to 2019, to which the village failed to respond until June 2019 — “surely by coincidence,” the court said.
Faulting ExteNet for failing to consider building a macro tower, which it was not in the business of constructing, when the village government ignored proposals for a tower for years prior to ExteNet’s application, was, in the words of the court, “at best, a bit disingenuous.”
According to ExteNet’s counsel, Chris Fisher of the law firm, Cuddy & Feder, “We are pleased the court recognized ExteNet’s good faith efforts to work with the village to improve wireless service in the community, particularly given an extraordinary local process not applied to other utilities and a permit denial after nearly a year of efforts. This is a significant ruling for the wireless industry and reiterates the limited scope of local regulatory authority municipalities have over small cell wireless infrastructure in the right of way under state and federal law and that community opposition alone is not a basis for denying a wireless application.”
ExteNet’s vice president and associate general counsel for regulatory affairs, Michael A. Hill, said that ExteNet was pleased with the outcome and looked forward to deploying improved cellular wireless coverage for residents, businesses and visitors of Plandome.
“We expect the village to issue all permits at its next regularly scheduled board meeting so we can offer the community enhanced cellular wireless services by the end of 2021,” Hill said.
At a meeting of its village board on Oct. 12, Plandome decided to comply with the court decision and issue special permits and other required approvals for the ExteNet small cells. The village board resolution implementing these steps said that the village was taking the action under protest and subject to Plandome’s and its village board’s appellate rights.
Moreover, the resolution authorized Plandome’s representatives to engage in settlement discussions with ExteNet and its representatives. The resolution did not disclose the nature of a potential settlement, but it said the purpose would be to avoid the necessity of an appeal of the court decision.
Don Bishop is executive editor and association publisher of AGL Magazine.
ExteNet Systems, a privately held provider of converged communications infrastructure and services for outdoor and in-building wireless, optical fiber and other connectivity, will be led by a new president and interim CEO beginning July 30. Rich Coyle, the company’s chief operating officer, moves up to the post as Jim Hyde, who has served as president and CEO three years, exits the company. Hyde said he would be focusing on family and other personal interests while working alongside ExteNet Systems part-owners DigitalBridge and Stonepeak on investment opportunities. Another ExteNet Systems executive, Chief Technology Officer Tormod Larsen, left the company on May 14 after 16 years.
“Since joining ExteNet as chief operating officer (COO) in September 2018, Coyle has transformed the operations team at ExteNet while achieving two sequential years of record node activations in 2019 and 2020, the latter during the ongoing pandemic,” a statement from the company reads.
Coyle said that with 5G wireless communications in the early stages of a multiyear investment cycle, network densification and advanced connectivity would remain the primary focus for carriers, real estate owners and enterprises in the coming years.
“We pride ourselves in our ability to deliver next-generation, future-proof public and private networks in a rapid and cost-effective manner,” Coyle said. “I am honored to take on this new role and want to assure our customers that we remain laser-focused on innovation, best-in-class network delivery and superior service.”
ExteNet System’s executive chairman, Marc Ganzi, said that he has admired Coyle for his leadership as ExteNet built operational capabilities while delivering on 4G and 5G node activation commitments for mobile network operator customers during the past three years. Ganzi, who also heads DigitalBridge, said that he thanked Hyde for contributions in growing ExteNet’s revenue and asset portfolio, implementing new platforms and processes, upgrading human capital and bringing in new equity partners.
“The future is bright for ExteNet,” Ganzi said.
Background information provided by ExteNet Systems describes its customers as mobile network operators, real estate owners, property managers, wholesale carriers, enterprises, municipalities and rural carriers.
“Our outdoor small cell and DAS networks are deployed in a variety of urban, suburban and rural environments while indoor networks are deployed in iconic sports and entertainment venues, convention centers, commercial office buildings, college campuses, healthcare facilities, hotels and resorts, and transit systems nationwide,” a company statement reads.
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.
John Hancock Life Insurance Company is leading a consortium that will acquire 30 percent of ExteNet Systems. The long-term institutional investor will join existing major investors, Digital Colony and Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners.
PJT Partners served as financial advisors to ExteNet and its existing investors. TAP Advisors served as financial advisors to John Hancock. Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett provided legal representation to ExteNet, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison represented John Hancock. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
In addition to joining the company’s board of directors, John Hancock has committed to funding ExteNet to grow as a provider of indoor and outdoor wireless and fiber connectivity as the company scales for 5G network densification and addresses advanced connectivity needs of mobile network operators (MNOs), carriers, property owners and enterprises.
Speaking of the consortium taking an equity position, Jim Hyde, president and CEO at ExteNet, said it gives ExteNet even greater access to high-quality capital that will enable ExteNet to continue to invest and grow its business and deliver great indoor and outdoor networks for its customers. “John Hancock is a great partner in the digital infrastructure space,” he said. “They certainly see their investment in ExteNet as an opportunity to continue to realize a strong return on their capital. It’s a validation of our business model.”
The John Hancock investment is part of the rotation from other traditional asset class investors into infrastructure, Hyde said.
“The fact that a life insurance company has an investment unit that is dedicated to infrastructure assets is a relatively new phenomenon,” he said. “What you are seeing is greater access to capital by infrastructure companies such as ours.”
Hyde said the capital is needed to fulfill the demand for 5G networks, both traditional outdoor small cell business and expanded indoor 5G connectivity, including the edge.
“The facet of our business that is poised for exponential growth is the edge, he said. “Think about the way that our indoor and outdoor DAS and small cell business is architected. Edge becomes increasing important.”
Hyde said ExteNet is well-positioned to help its customers execute their edge strategies. A report by Meticulous Research on global mobile edge computing forecast that the market will grow at a CAGR of 30.1 percent from 2020 to 2027 to reach $2.8 billion by 2027.
“As 5G is built out, the edge becomes an increasingly important part of that long-term, next-generation network architecture,” he said. “All of the 5G applications that you have heard about require IoT – the infrastructure of things. It is the network infrastructure that we deliver, including fiber connectivity, vertical real estate, small cell connectivity and indoor networks – public and private.”
Private networks are also becoming much more important, according to Hyde. “The just completed CBRS auction had some very interesting winners, and we have some very interesting projects underway with private LTE and private 5G networks across the country,” he said.
With the introduction of the Apple 12 5G handset, carriers are “chomping at the bit,” as Hyde put it, to accelerate 5G deployment now that there will widespread availability of 5G devices.
The delays and cancellations of public events caused by COVID-19 have had one silver lining, according to Hyde, allowing the completion of 5G network upgrade inside the Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium. It was completed in 18 weeks in time for the team’s home opener and included additional cabling and many new nodes required for densification. It is now the largest indoor deployment of 5G in the world.
The focus for 5G indoor deployments will go beyond the iconic venues to include all buildings. It requires more buildings to receive coverage from the inside out as opposed to from the outside in.
“The way 5G is being deployed with mid-band and high-band spectrum drives demand for more indoor venues to have upgraded networks deployed in them,” Hyde said. “You have to bring the signal source inside, because those radio waves will not penetrate buildings. The need to deliver public, commercial-grade 5G service is going require that signal indoors in more buildings.”
Carrier-funding is still the primary driver for indoor wireless deployments, but noncarrier-funded deployments are becoming more prevalent, according to Hyde.
One of the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that many buildings are not equipped to provide smart building applications, such as keyless entry and health screening, to their tenants.
“Real estate owners and investors understand the importance of wireless to compete in the marketplace, he said. “We are seeing a lot of demand developing around nonmobile network operator-funded networks and applications in buildings.”
There has been a lot of talk about the effect of the pandemic in terms of office building usage. “No one knows what the new normal will look like post-COVID,” Hyde said. “We do know that next generation indoor wireless infrastructure is going to be required to deliver high speeds and low latency, whether it is an office building or multitenant housing.”
COVID has also affected the geography of the densification, which usually begins in the urban core and then moves outward. “COVID has accelerated broadband demand in the secondary and tertiary markets, and we are now a couple of years ahead of our original plan in terms of working with the carriers to begin deployment in these markets,” Hyde said.
Small cell upgrades are also benefiting from the availability of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas, which were previously giant panels for macro towers. “The new MIMO for small cell technology would blow you away,” Hyde said. “We are beginning to deploy it in one carrier’s 5G small cell densification. The expectation is high.”
When the dust settles on 2020, ExteNet will have deployed a record number of outdoor small cells. The company also set a record in 2019. And there is plenty of small cell business in the pipeline for future years.
“Now that we will have 5G handsets in the hands of millions of users in the next year, the race really begins,” Hyde said. “Before, it was marketing race, but now, the rubber hits the road. We will finish 2020 in great shape and with great momentum going into 2021.”