Month: September 2015

Wireless Infrastructure is a Great Industry to Work In

By Tom Leddo
Vice President

While attending the 2015 CTIA Super Mobility show in Las Vegas, I was once again reminded how great it is to work in the wireless infrastructure industry. While the CTIA show itself is more oriented toward wireless as a whole and includes a lot of things not related to network infrastructure, the accompanying events like the Tower and Small Cell Summit and the annual Raymond James Breakfast Roundtable are great places to huddle with industry colleagues to listen and learn about the latest developments in the infrastructure segment of wireless.

While the first half of 2015 may have been a bit slow and forced us all to closely manage our cash flow as we wait for the operators to rollout the next phase of their network development, there will be another phase, and another one after that.

While eating breakfast at the Raymond James Roundtable titled Chaos, Convergence and Capacity I was reminded that this really is a great industry.   The following simplifies and summarizes my own spin on their event.

Chaos

Despite the recent volatility in the stock market, the refugee issues in Europe, the turmoil in the Middle East, uncertainty in the Chinese economy and what may be the most realigning election year since 1968, everyone has a phone and everyone continues to pay their phone bill each month. Said another way, the wireless industry does not endure economic cycles in the same way as other industries.

Convergence

Telecom convergence – the combination of voice, data and video on our smart phones make this a very exciting place to work.

Let’s give ourselves some credit here. None of the cool things we now do on our phones will work without a sound network. And that network would not exist without good site acquisition, A&E, design, construction, EFI, and maintenance. We contribute to some cool stuff.

Capacity

If everyone is going to continue to pay their phone bill each month despite turns in the economy and our phones are becoming the ultimate do-it-all device then a lot more capacity will be needed on the networks. That means there will continue to be spending on network development. There will be more upgrades and ongoing maintenance on existing network infrastructure.

This means more work for us all, even if we have to live project-to-project.

Conclusion

While the infrastructure segment of wireless may be beholden to the operator’s deployment schedules, the truth is that network upgrades will continue. As Ric Prentiss noted during the Raymond James session, carriers operate in a “keep-up or fall-behind” marketplace and this will continue to drive capital expenditure despite overarching economic conditions.

As far as we can see, we have lots of ongoing work to do.


San Francisco Issues Design Preference Guidelines for DAS or Small Cells on Wood Poles

By Cynthia Hanson
Land Use Counsel

The City and County of San Francisco recently issued design preference guidelines for the installation of DAS and Small Cells on Wood Poles. Known to be a tough jurisdiction, San Francisco has offered an easy to follow set of design preferences that should help accelerate the process and clear the hurdles for carriers as they seek to densify their networks through the use of wood pole attachments.

San Francisco has listed 13 design preferences they request applicants detail in their plans and application materials and follow in their installation of DAS and Small Cells on Wood Poles. These preferences are heavily focused on aesthetics. The San Francisco Planning Department quotes from a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision from 2009, (Sprint PCS Assets, L.L.C. v. City of Palos Verdes Estates, (9th Cir. 2009) 583 F.3d 716), in the introduction to the guidelines as reinforcement of its authority to consider aesthetics when reviewing an application for wood pole attachments.

The San Francisco Planning Department design preferences are as follows:

  1. Long and Narrow
    This design preference has to do with equipment enclosures. Run the equipment enclosure down the pole instead of wide on the pole and San Francisco also wants you to face the equipment away from residential windows.
  1. Please – No Meter
    San Francisco recommends utilizing a drop line and no electric meter enclosure if allowed by the utility company. If this is not possible then make the meter and disconnect switch – long and narrow.
  1. Cabling
    Please keep it tight to the pole and shroud it if possible. Conduit is preferred.
  1. Paint
    All equipment – antennas, brackets, cables, risers, PVC, shrouds, etc. – must be painted to match the pole. The Planning Department has paint color preferences they will provide depending on the type and location of the pole.
  1. Antennas
    Placement is key. Avoid placing the antenna on the pole adjacent to windows. An integrated GPS and electronic tilt are preferred. Use single element side arms, preferably cylindrical antennas, or if panel antenna must be used, use a mini shroud below the panels. Large bracket systems creating an offset from the pole should be avoided. Top versus side mounted will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  1. Nothing Flashy
    No visible flashing lights and remove all unnecessary equipment manufacturer decals.
  1. Warning Stickers and ID
    Use the smallest and lowest visibility RF (yellow instead of blue) and Node ID (muted colors) stickers allowed by government or utility regulations. Again, placement matters and away from windows and out of sight lines is preferred.
  1. The Other Pole
    Placement of a secondary pole if required is important. Hide or camouflage it.
  1. Height Increases
    Look at your alternatives. Pole height increases should be kept to a minimum.
  1. Equipment Placement
    Stack it close together and place it close to the pole.
  1. Not a Fan of Cooling Fans
    If close to a window or in or near to residential areas, use a passive cooling system. For other locations, use the smallest profile possible.
  1. Photo Sims
    Make these realistic, accurate, detailed, and dated.
  1. Ancillary Equipment
    Show all equipment and how you propose to hide it.

San Francisco’s Design Preferences document provides additional guidance by including numerous pictures throughout the document of both preferred designs and those that are frowned upon by the Planning Department. Additionally checklists detailing best practices are provided at the end of the document that specify information the Planning Department wants to see in all plans and photo sims submitted to them for review. By following these design preferences and making use of the checklists, applications for review of wood pole attachment deployments should be approved quicker by the planning department and accepted by the community as a whole.

You can find the San Francisco Design Preference Guidelines here


WWLF Promotes the Exchange of Ideas and Information

By Tom Leddo
Vice President

The first time I was invited to a Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum (WWLF) event by Nancy Winch I had to ask her, “Why are you inviting me?”

I was at the Wireless Infrastructure Show (PCIA) in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in 2009, when Nancy asked if I was attending the WWLF breakfast the following morning. The event featured Anna Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). Ms. Gomez had previously served in the FCC and was newly appointed to the NTIA. She was a very impressive speaker for a group that I had only learned of the day before.

I had not planned on attending, but Nancy is a good saleswoman so she persuaded me to get out of bed very early the next morning, even if it meant I had to put on my suit. It was my own fault that I rolled in too late to get any sausage, eggs and grits.

To my surprise, it was a really good event, and as many men as women attended it.

Okay, WWLF, you got my attention.

Since then, I have met many women in wireless that I respect, like Patti Ringo and Md7’s own Lynn Whitcher. These smart and skilled women, who are also excellent networkers, have helped develop an impressive organization. WWLF hosts educational sessions available throughout the US, which include Lunch-and-Learns, online courses, guest speaker events and one-on-one mentoring programs. WWLF members certainly have a leg up in advancing in their careers.

Additionally, WWLF hosts the best networking events in the wireless infrastructure industry.

I am now a regular attendee at the annual WWLF events at PCIA (The Wireless Infrastructure Show) and at CTIA. Several members of the Md7 team attended the most recent event, which was held on the rooftop of the Cromwell hotel at Drai’s Night Club during the 2015 CTIA Super Mobility week in Las Vegas.

Simply put, these parties are excellent opportunities to meet and see many people in our industry. Each year, I make new acquaintances and catch up with old friends, all while exchanging knowledge and ideas.


How to Sell Cuckoo Clocks in Different Cultures

At Md7 we do a lot of training.

In addition to training for specific jobs, we also put a lot of emphasis on training around our Purpose & Vision statement as well as each of our six core values. We believe that by doing so we strengthen and reinforce our culture and make the workplace more enjoyable over the long-term.

Currently, Md7 operates
in thirteen different countries in ten different languages so cross-cultural communication is very important to us.

With one of our core values in mind, Respect for the Individual, our European team had a really interesting session based on the Lewis Model. Lucy and René Herlaar, of Herlaar Business Consulting in
The Netherlands, introduced us to the Lewis Model. Md7 first met René during his 17-year career at Vodafone in Europe.

Best known for his book “When Cultures Collide”, Richard Lewis developed the Lewis Model as an attempt to help people learn to interact with people from other cultures. Currently, Md7 operates in thirteen different countries in ten different languages so cross-cultural communication is very important to us.

As noted in an article in Business Insider, “Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories:

  • Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group.
  • Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.
  • Reactives — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side’s proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group.”

 

Here is the illustrated version of the Lewis Model with more details about the three cultural types.

Lewismodel

Lewis charts
http://www.crossculture.com/

The idea behind this training was teaching our European team members how to interact and improve their communication across the many nationalities that operate in our European offices. According to Mark Christenson, President of Md7 International, we have since experienced a greater appreciation for our colleagues, and the different cultural backgrounds that each person brings to the team in our European offices. In addition, we have begun being more intentional in trying to align our communication with customers and prospective customers in ways that align with their general culture.

We have found it to be quite beneficial in our international sales effort. Pascal Bubeck, Head of Business Development for Md7 in Europe, was raised in the Black Forest Region of Germany, which is in the most southwestern part of Germany and boarders on Switzerland. Just as Switzerland is known for the excellent craftsmanship of a Swiss watch, the Black Forest region is known for its precision and craftsmanship in glass blowing and manufacturing of wooden cuckoo clocks dating back to the 17th century.   In terms of the Lewis Model, because Pascal comes from this region of the world, he would be a true Linear-Active—a precise planner, who sticks to the facts and is very results oriented.

Pascal often travels for business to all parts of Eastern and Western Europe including Italy, Spain and even a couple of recent trips to Moscow. These areas tend more toward the Multi-Active section of the Lewis Model. Through this training, Pascal began to understand his Linear-Active tendencies and became more aware of the Multi-Active and Reactive personalities of many of our customers with whom he interacts on a regular basis. He tailored one meeting, in particular, to focus more on personal discussions about family, something that would not be considered “normal” business practice in more Linear-Active business cultures. However, after discussing personal stories for 45-50 minutes of the allotted hour, the customer took the proposal, which had sat unmentioned to that point, and stated that it was very important and aligned with what they were trying to do and he was going to hand-carry it to his boss to ensure it received the proper attention.

In other words, through application of the Lewis Model, Pascal found that he became much better at meeting the needs of Md7’s European customers by recognizing and respecting their cultural backgrounds, demonstrating Md7’s core value of Respect for the Individual, part of Md7’s corporate DNA.