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Tag Archives: TowerCloud

Industry Veteran Townsend to Lead Diversification at WANRack

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor


George Townsend, who has 23 years of experience on the carrier and enterprise side of the telecom industry, has joined WANRack, a designer and builder of custom private fiber wide area networks (WANs) for K-12 schools with dedicated home-run fibers. His hiring is a sure sign that diversification is in WANRack’s future.

“Through his time with Progress Telecom and TowerCloud, Townsend brings to WANRack ample experience of fulfilling the needs of carriers and enterprises for cell towers, fiber to the tower/premises, and even small cells,” said Rob Oyler, CEO and founder of WANRack.

As Executive VP and GM of Progress Telecom, a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) he helped to form in 1999, Townsend led wholesale and enterprise divisions and a dark fiber division on the eastern seaboard that became a lit transport division, connecting cable landing stations from Miami to New York.

Additionally, he ran the company’s cell tower division, which was one of the first in the nation to use utility infrastructure to allow wireless carriers to lease space on the existing communications infrastructure and place their equipment and lines within electrical substations, and to collocate on the existing transmission infrastructure.

As an original team member at TowerCloud, Townsend served as a communications infrastructure specialist, building high-capacity broadband transport and small cell networks. TowerCloud was a pioneer in building fiber to the tower, helping carriers move from copper to the tower to an all-fiber, managed lit service.

Townsend’s entrance comes at a time when Oyler has expanded WANRack into 18 states and has received a capital infusion from Grain Management. David Grain was one of the first board members of TowerCloud.

“I was impressed with WANRack’s core competencies and what they were doing in the K-12 space,” Townsend said. “Rob’s value proposition of building private networks for school systems and giving them control over their own destiny is unique.”

As WANRack continues to sell to school districts, Townsend will oversee the diversification into the enterprise and carrier spaces.

“They are knocking it out of the park with K-12,” Townsend said. “We want to spread out the target audience to layer on enterprise, wholesale carriers and wireless carriers. That is a compelling business model.”

The business plan will include carrier-grade greenfield builds and managed services, as well as private networks for small cells in areas where carriers are challenged for backhaul.

“We can overbuild existing networks with additional fiber or conduits to serve the market for enterprises or wireless carriers. Or we may, when we first roll out the network, have dedicated fibers to the school system on the private fiber network, but add additional fiber and conduit to potentially serve other markets through a cost allocation model,” Townsend said. “The diversification can go both ways. As WANRack begins to target the wireless carriers, we may build a greenfield network for a wireless carrier in an area where it doesn’t have a school district. That network could be built with capacity to serve the school district at a later time.

Townsend’s deep knowledge of the enterprise and wireless carrier spaces will be key to WANRack’s expansion beyond K-12 to include other markets. WANRack will be adding other staff, as well.

“We want to remain excellent at our core business, private fiber WANs where school systems get dedicate homerun fibers, Level 2 control, no oversubscription anywhere in the network. That is very powerful. We are looking for strategic growth. As we expand, the business model will morph and shift, but we will be very strategic,” Townsend said.

How Emerging Technologies Could Affect Wireless Infrastructure

By Don Bishop

DALLAS — May 25, 2016 — One of the sessions at the Wireless Infrastructure Show dealt with emerging technologies and their implications for wireless infrastructure. Ron Mudry, president of Tower Cloud, led the session. He described how backhaul is evolving to meet the needs of emerging technologies, saying there is adequate backhaul in most markets and even in rural areas.


Ron Mudry moderates the panel (photo by Don Bishop)

“What we’ve seen lately is Verizon moving from lit service to dark fiber,” Mudry said. “Many dark fiber builds are going on around the country. It’s a big initiative that is putting a lot of infrastructure in the ground. The previous fiber build is nearly 20 years old, dating to the dot-com era.”

Mudry said wireless carriers have been densifying their networks because of capacity constraints. “They’ve added a lot of macro towers,” he said. “That’s provided a lot of the growth for backhaul providers and others in the industry. Now we’re seeing that shift a little to bringing capacity with small cells and mini-macros and centralized radio access network (C-RAN) technology.”

Dr. Rikin Thakker, a research assistant professor at the University of Maryland, said that cellular network operators have enough RF spectrum to serve their networks, for now. He said that operators say they need more spectrum because of a forecast rise in data demand. But research indicates other substitutes for spectrum.

“Macrosites are not going away, even though we are talking about the Internet of Things, 5G cellular technology and small cells,” Thakker said. “Macrosites will play an important role, and that could be a good substitute. Increases in efficiency with technology decrease the burden on spectrum. Wi-Fi offloading has kept the demand on licensed spectrum lower. Just increasing macrosites by 5 percent could lower the need for licensed spectrum by 98 megahertz.”

Aaron Blazer, a senior partner at Atlantic ACM said the network operators’ end-user revenue comes under pressure as competition increases. The result trickles down into infrastructure. “Operators pay attention to operating expense and the ability to deploy capital on infrastructure,” he said. “When spectrum is tapped, you look for the most efficient way to boost the network. Deploying more macrosites is a business model that carriers understand. The economics of backhaul and macrosites are well understood.”

Blazer said that when macrosites aren’t enough, non-macro densification emerges in the form of small cells and outdoor distributed antenna system (DAS) networks. He said another alternative is C-RAN technology, where operators use remote radio heads with a centralized baseband unit to make more efficient use of spectrum. He explained that a heavy fiber component changes the cost structure, especially a dark fiber component, and sometimes fiber is not available.

“After that, we see operators looking to Wi-Fi and other offloading strategies to support the network,” Blazer said. “But Wi-Fi comes third because it is not always seen as a carrier-grade technology.”

Rich Grimes, the chief operating officer of the DAS and Small Cell Group at InSite Wireless, said the carrier market for in-building DAS is finite. According to Grimes, from a carrier perspective, venue revenue-sharing is questionable. He said there is higher scrutiny for lower-capacity venues, and more cost-effective solutions will be used.

“In the forecast for DAS, capital spending for this year is pegged at about $4.8 billion and rising about 28 percent per year to more than $16 billion in 2020,” Grimes said. “A focus we’re all seeing is on reduced cost for in-building wireless systems. Also, fiber will become increasingly available to commercial buildings, and third parties in the enterprise will take a greater role in deploying DAS with the carriers’ focus being more on the capex for the LTE-Advanced roll out and small cell preparation for 5G.”

Kishore Raja, director of strategic programs at Boingo Wireless, categorized emerging technologies in three domains.

“Number one is the process of natural evolution within the licensed spectrum,” he said. “You have macro towers, and you have DAS, which augments existing towers. You have small cells, which augment by adding capacity and coverage. Number two is emerging technologies on unlicensed spectrum, such as seamless Wi-Fi access to networks. Number three is emerging technologies in the area that bridges licensed and unlicensed spectrum, such as LTE-U[unlicensed], LAA [License Assisted Access], LWA [LTE – Wi-Fi Link Aggregation] and muLTEfire. MuLTEfire provides LTE-like performance with Wi-Fi-like simplicity.”

Robert Long, director of sales at Crown Castle International, said that regardless of the path it takes, the need for more infrastructure will continue. “By 2018, 4G data use is expected to increase by a factor of 10,” he said. “Cell phone data use will increase by a multiple of six. Add the Internet of Things, smart cities and autonomous vehicles. Providing a solution that’s sharable, whether it’s fiber, towers or small cells, if it’s sharable, it’s much more economical for the service providers.”