May 23, 2017
After wondering aloud why a wireline company was invited to speak at a wireless conference, Dan Caruso, president and CEO of Zayo, quickly noted the importance of wireline companies to the success of wireless companies in the deployment of 5G in his keynote at the Wireless Infrastructure Show today in Orlando, Florida. In fact, collaboration between different factions will be the key for 5G to be successful, he added.
Caruso said there will be many winners in 5G deployment, including wireless carriers, tower companies, fiber companies, cable TV providers, data centers, and content and web concerns, but only if it happens quickly.
“With 5G, the big prize is that it happens sooner rather than later. The quicker it is deployed and the more pronounced the better it is for everyone one in this room,” Caruso said. “It is not about [crowning a single] a winner. Everyone wins if it happens on a widespread basis and more quickly.”
Making sure that deployment is less expensive and more rapid with strong economics for all participants, the industry must make the decision to work together, according to Caruso. The key finding ways to work together during the deployment stage, as well as ways to make it less intrusive.
He admitted that collaboration is not always easy. Once there are three or four parties in a room, it can be difficult for them to agree on the various aspects of deployment. Nonetheless, Caruso said it is worth it to for the various factions to come together to consider the different options.
“We can leverage our existing assets, whether it is existing towers, existing DAS systems or existing fiber,” he said. “We can leverage construction cycles; so instead of, in parallel, rebuilding the same network over and over again, we can collaborate during the construction cycle itself so we accomplish multiple goals at once.”
The wireless industry must figure out how to play together in the rights-of-way to speed up the deployment process to make it less obtrusive, according to Caruso.
“The wireless carriers could work more closely with each other, and it would make it easier on everyone, including themselves,” he said. “If you have a design spec that is slightly different from the other carrier, which requires multiple networks to be built separately in the same geographic area, it is more expensive and takes longer for everyone involved, including municipalities.”
Caruso said that the wireless infrastructure industry also has a responsibility to work with each other in the rights-of-way, taking advantage of each other’s strengths.
“We don’t have to do everything ourselves, the full turnkey package. We can do our piece of it working with others. We can provide the fiber, and others provide the poles and the access,” he said. “Are we creative with one other? Constructive with one another? Can we find opportunities to build out the infrastructure each of us playing our particular roles in a way that happens more quickly and spend less money?”
Keynotes Show Variety of Infrastructure Opportunities
The keynotes during the morning of the first day of the Wireless Infrastructure Show, the annual conference of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, represented various of aspects of communications infrastructure, from John Horn, president and CEO, of Ingenu, who spoke about the internet of things, to Michal Poth, CEO, FirstNet, who covered the first responders broadband network, and Buddy Dyer, mayor of Orlando, Florida, who briefly spoke on his city’s commitment to being a smart city.
The annual conference keynotes and sessions are representative of WIA’s involvement in fiber, smart cities, the IoT, as well as towers, DAS and small cells, according to WIA president and CEO Jonathan Adelstein.
“WIA represents the entire ecosystem of wireless infrastructure, which is becoming increasingly complex as it grows to meet the data demands that are exploding,” Adelstein told AGL eDigest. “We believe that bringing everyone together at WIA benefits the entire wireless industry because we are the hub where all those different components included in the growing networks come together.”
DALLAS — May 27, 2016 — One of the newest additions to maintaining wireless infrastructure has been the utilization of drone technology, which was on full view on the show floor at this year’s Wireless Infrastructure Show. This is one of the more exciting vectors for the use of drones. They are being deployed in a variety of applications to examine the wireless structure infrastructure. Drones now make it possible to examine all types if wireless installations, both in and out of building.
The amount and diversity of data that a drone can provide is orders of magnitude higher than what has been possible with manual inspection – and at greatly reduced cost to site owners. The data collected by drones is truly a tool that will change the inspection landscape.
Companies, such as Talon Aerolytics, have developed remarkable solutions that can capture extremely high-resolution 3D images and video that can spot anomalies, wildlife, environmental effects and many other problems, issues, or anomalies that have the potential to compromise the site and the environment around it. This data can be geo-referenced with date, location and time stamps to precisely pinpoint the occurrences. One of the most valuable assets of drone technology is that the data that drones can capture and store can have a remarkable effect on the capex and opex, as well as to reduce the risk to life and limb of the otherwise physical inspections that are part of site analysis and maintenance.
Expect to see drones become a common sight around a variety of communications infrastructures.
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.
“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.”
DALLAS — May 27, 2016 — On the third day of its annual conference, May 25, the Wireless Industry Association held its inaugural Supplier Diversity Summit, which featured matchmaking meetings between small diverse businesses and major wireless carriers and infrastructure companies.
“We launched the Supplier Diversity Summit to shine a spotlight on the important role diversity plays in the future of wireless communications in this country and to create real business opportunities for small, women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses,” said Tim House, executive vice president of WIA.
José Mas, CEO, MasTec, gave the keynote address for the event, which included one-on-one meetings with procurement officials from major wireless companies including Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, AT&T, American Tower, Crown Castle and SBA Communications.
“Diverse companies will get a chance to meet with suppliers, but there are no entitlements,” Mas said. “You have a great opportunity. My advice to the diverse businesses out there is you are going to get a chance, but it is up to you what you do with it.”
Mas said that he wished his company had the opportunity provided by the Summit when it was starting out, but the community was less friendly to minority owned businesses. He said he is proud of the strides in diversity that have been made in the wireless industry.
“This is one of the few industry events that is promoting diversity,” Mas said. “What makes this so important is that we are not at a minority tradeshow talking about diversity but that we are at an industry tradeshow talking about the importance of diversity.”
The Summit’s goal was to acknowledge the importance of diversity to the success of companies and helping grow their revenues. With minority communities’ economic power at an all-time high and growing, diversity, Mas said, simply good business.
“Minorities are the fastest growing segment of our population and, by the way, the youngest. Why is that important? Those are the wireless customers of the future. Carriers know that and that is where they are going find their growth in the future,” Mas said.
The other source of revenue for carriers is serving small businesses, which drive a majority of the job growth in America. “We know that minority companies are begun at a faster rate than non-minority companies,” he said. “They have grown 46 percent in the last ten years with new startups, versus 10 percent for non-minority companies. That is where our customers, the carriers, will find their customers and future growth.”
Mas’ family story is the stuff of the American dream. It all began when his father, Jorge Mas Canosa, at the age of 20 was forced into exile from Cuba, because of his outspoken opposition to the Batista and Castro dictatorships. He arrived with his wife with little means and worked as stevedore, dishwasher, milkman and shoe salesman in Miami before joining the U.S. Army and participating in the Bay of Pigs invasion. He left the military as second lieutenant and took over a failing contracting business deploying fiber underground. He turned the business around and received a 50 percent ownership stake.
Through hard work and determination, Mas said his father built the company into a dominant player in the wireline business in Florida. When Hurricane Andrew decimated the telecom and utility infrastructure, his father’s company rebuilt a lot of that infrastructure. It went public in 1994, under the name MasTec, and a national brand was created.
“Our company’s history is an example of the generosity of this country,” Mas said. “Only in America can a destitute refuge start off as a milkman and build a company which would become traded on the New York Stock Exchange and have a billion dollars in revenue. That’s the power of diversity. I am proud of my Hispanic family’s role in contributing to this society.”
MasTec, which had become a major player deploying fiber for CLECs, suffered several setbacks around the turn of the century with the passing of Mas’ father in 1997 and the collapse of the dot-com telecom bubble.
When Mas became CEO of MasTec in 2007, it was still a wireline company, and he led it through a sweeping diversification into infrastructure for renewable energy, win turbine farms, high-voltage transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, water and sewer pipelines, and sewage treatment centers. Late in 2008, it won the bid to deploy infrastructure for AT&T in the southeast region, which accounts $1 billion in annual revenues today.
Under Mas’ leadership, MasTec’s total revenues have grown from just under $900 million up to $5 billion and the employee base has grown from 7,000 up to 18,000.
Even though MasTec has seen amazing growth and its status as a minority-owned company is no longer seen as a negative, Mas noted that progress still needs to be made.
“[Minorities] are underrepresented in the management ranks of the Fortune 500 companies. In fact, there are no diverse companies in the Fortune 500. Last year we were close, ranking 562,” he said.
Mas expressed a sense of responsibility to give back to the business community where he has been so successful. He called on other diverse companies to reach out and promote diversity. “It is easy for me to come here and ask for business and use our diversity as an edge,” he said. “What are we doing in our communities to support other diverse companies?”
Mas asserted his belief that, fundamentally, each of us is better at our jobs when we are around people that are different from us, allowing us to see things from a different perspective. “Fresh ideas. Different ideas. It makes us a lot more creative,” he said.
Following the keynote address, industry experts participated on a panel titled “Supplier Diversity: An Untapped Opportunity.” Panelists included: Flavio Rossi, senior vice president of procurement and supply chain operations for T-Mobile USA; Barbara Meserole, global diversity and inclusion/supplier diversity for Verizon; Oliver Turman, Director of AT&T supplier diversity for AT&T Services; Michael Dennis, CEO of The Big Green Company; and Tim Dunnigan, president of Talon Aerolytics.
AGL Small Cell Magazine
DALLAS — May 25, 2016 — Another segment of the wireless market that is getting a lot of interest is the “middleprise.” Traditionally, this segment has been ignored by carriers because the ROI of such environments isn’t cost effective for them. But now, Whoop Wireless, which exhibited at the Wireless Infrastructure Show, has pushed the cutting edge by offering a solution for this “middle market, which is defined by buildings between 50,000 and 400,000 square feet. In reality, these structures make up most of the DAS and small cell market. Without carrier interest, the cost to equip such buildings falls on the building’s owners, and it is generally a relatively expensive undertaking – typically $2-3 per square foot, or more.
Now, Whoop has a solution that brings the cost down to around $1 for that same square foot. By developing a product that takes the high-powered electronics that are traditionally housed in carrier sites and moves them to the tower.
How they have done this is by developing silicon from innovators in Silicon Valley that deviates from the standard DAS design paradigm, and they leveraged the famous Moore’s Law. While the technology is proprietary, the approach is novel. Rather than taking the RF and using high-power hardware to push out to the antenna, this system uses a very highly integrated amplifier at the antenna to push out the RF. But that isn’t unique. What is unique is the design of the amplifiers and the distribution architecture that ensures the same ERP at each antenna within the DAS network.
The system also offers very low overall system noise level because the signal path to the amplifier, which is now at the antenna, is all low-power RF. In effect, this places much of the intelligence, such as gain control, in the node, rather than the head end. This is achieved by using a very sophisticated programmable controller that is constantly self-optimizing, which ensures optimal operating efficiency in real time of the critical operating parameters.