Growing as Fast As Your Network
Md7 serves 25 different carriers in thirteen different countries on four different continents in ten different languages. We of course also serve the supporting OEMs, tower companies and other organizations that also operate within the wireless industry.
Md7 supports these operations from our North American headquarters in San Diego and our European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland as well as 27 additional regional, and field/project offices across the USA, Europe, Africa and Oceania.
2015 was a year of rapid growth for Md7 and that trend continues as we approach the end of the first quarter of 2016.
In the last fifteen months we have expanded our effort to offer turnkey site development with the addition of DAS, engineering and construction management services. We have localized our operations through the acquisition of Lexcom Development Corp in Seattle, Portland and Sacramento as well as opening regional offices in Austin and Atlanta and field/project offices directly in our key markets. Internationally, within the last six months, Md7 International Telecommunications Limited (MITL) commenced operations in Cairo, Egypt and launched LTE upgrade projects in the Netherlands and Germany in addition to formalizing relationships with local expertise that we can leverage on-demand.
The wireless industry is going through major changes. The proverbial hockey-stick growth in demand for data, increased price competition and penetration of over 100% is creating the need for more cell sites that are deployed better, faster and cheaper (BFC) than ever before. Although conventional wisdom has always suggested that a company must choose two of those at the expense of the third, we believe our innovative processes and tools offer a no-compromise solution that allow our customers to tick all three boxes.
Md7 is committed to continue to evolve and grow at the pace of wireless worldwide.
Astounding Statistics for Mobile Data Growth
By Tom Leddo, Vice President
In February of 2016, Cisco published The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, a white paper that they refer to as “an ongoing initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications on global networks.”
According to Cisco, “visual networking is where streaming video, high-speed networks, and interactivity come together to give you a richer experience. Using video to communicate, share or receive information over the Internet,… Visual networking combines social networking with high-def video. It is video chat, video on demand, video messaging, online video, Internet TV, and so much more.”
This white paper updates Cisco’s forecasts of the growth and demand for data over mobile networks, worldwide over the next five years. Admittedly, parts of this technical document are a bit heady; however, the findings that are noted are pretty interesting. Especially, when you consider that the wireless infrastructure industry must keep up with the demand for more underlying infrastructure for our customers as they race to keep their networks up to speed with the demand for anytime/anywhere data and video.
The following are some astounding statistics from the VNI forecast that got my attention:
1. Global Mobile Data Traffic Growth
In 2015 – Global mobile data traffic grew 1.7-fold, or 74%.
By 2020 – Globally, mobile data traffic will grow 8-fold from 2015 to 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 53%.
2. Global Mobile Data Traffic Growth in Exabytes Per Month
In 2015 – Globally, mobile data traffic was 3.7 Exabytes per month in 2015, the equivalent of nearly a billion DVDs each month or 10 billion text messages each second.
By 2020 – Globally, mobile data traffic will reach 30.6 Exabytes per month by 2020 (the equivalent of 7,641 million DVDs each month).
1 Exabyte = 1 billion gigabytes = 1 quintillion bytes
3. Global Mobile Data Traffic Compared to 2010
In 2015 – Globally, mobile data traffic in 2015 was equivalent to 15x the volume of global mobile traffic five years earlier (in 2010).
By 2020 – Globally, mobile data traffic by 2020 will be equivalent to 120x the volume of global mobile traffic ten years earlier (in 2010).
By any measure, the amount of capacity needed to support users’ needs of mobile data will continue to grow substantially, and the builders and managers of networks, mobile and fixed, need to have a plan.
4. Global Mobile Data Traffic Offload to Wi-Fi or Femtocell
In 2015 – Mobile offload exceeded cellular traffic for the first time in 2015. Fifty-one percent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network through WiFi or femtocell in 2015.
By 2020 – 55 Percent of Total Mobile Data Traffic Will Be Offloaded to WiFi or femtocell by 2020.
Although the percentage is not that large, the takeaway is that Wi-Fi is, and will continue to be, a key component of mobile data traffic, and how Wi-Fi is integrated with the cellular networks is crucial to a good end-user experience.
5. Global Mobile Video Traffic
In 2015 – Mobile video traffic accounted for 55%–more than half—of total mobile data traffic in 2015.
By 2020 – 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2020.
This is an indication that video already is and will continue to be a huge driver of the need for adequate capacity in networks
6. Global Wearable Devices
In 2015 – Globally, 97 million wearable devices (a sub-segment of the machine-to-machine [M2M] category) in 2015 generated 15 petabytes (1 petabyte equals one quadrillion bytes) of monthly traffic.
By 2020 – Cisco estimates that there will be 601 million wearable devices globally.
Wearable devices typically do not have embedded cellular, but rather connect to the mobile network through an accompanying smartphone. Thus while the direct impact on mobile traffic will come from the smartphone itself, a 6X growth in wearable devices is a strong indicator of how innovation drives new uses and increased demand for bandwidth.
What does it matter if a bunch of statistics confirms historical growth and projects a lot of future growth?
Md7 operates in the wireless infrastructure space. The data that has grown, and is going to continue to grow, is transmitted over the very wireless infrastructure that we help build and support.
“Working without a net” is an expression denoting high risk for the user. With the historical and projected increases in demand and usage, working without an adequate internet (or a struggling mobile internet) may pose high risk for the user and the provider. If our customers’ customers (wireless subscribers of the network operators) are going to continue to use more video and buy more smart devices that consume more data for longer periods of time, then we will need to continue to innovate and develop new, faster and less expensive ways then ever before to help grow networks to keep up with demand.
California Public Utilities Commission Reform Proposed
By Lynn Whitcher, General Counsel
If you are working on small cells or DAS deployments within the public streets (a.k.a. rights-of-way), you have likely dealt with the state’s public utilities commission, which often controls attachment guidelines, fees, safety, and other aspects of siting. In California, that may soon change. On March 9, 2016, an Assembly Bill was proposed that would revamp the role the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) plays in regulating utilities.
Created in 1911, the CPUC is a state agency that regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. Citing the changes in technology brought about in the 21st Century, the fact that the CPUC is the product of a different era and ethical lapses that have plagued the Commission, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11, known as the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016, will allow the reallocation of all, or a portion, of the functions of the CPUC to other state agencies, departments, and boards.
“The CPUC is spread too thin, and has too many issues within its jurisdiction. It is time to think about how we can make it more focused, specialized, and accountable,” said Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who introduced the Bill along with Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) and Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Marin County) in the hopes that this would provide greater protection to the public.
“Recent disasters, like the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, highlight the fact that the CPUC is unable to adequately balance the regulation of its diverse entities. The same agency that regulates moving companies cannot be expected to also effectively regulate electrical power and natural gas safety standards. It is far past time for the modernization that the Public Utility Reform Act will provide.”
Surprisingly, during an oversight hearing before the California State Assembly, CPUC President Michael Picker echoed these statements when he indicated that he has come to the personal conclusion that the CPUC shouldn’t be doing telecom anymore and that things that are largely ministerial, like cable registration, should perhaps be done by the Department of Consumer Affairs. These are competitive markets that cannot be effectively regulated by the CPUC given the limited authority of the Commission. A video of Mr. Picker’s comments is available here.
The Bill proposes an amendment to the state constitution to give voters an initiative to modify the CPUC’s role. In order to be placed on the November ballot, the Act would need 2/3rds approval in both the Assembly and Senate, followed by the approval of a simple majority of the voters. If passed, the Act would go into effect on January 1, 2009.
In-Building solutions– DA$, $mall Cell?, is Wi-Fi calling the answer?
By John Cahill, Vice President of Business Development
With a few possible exceptions, sufficient and capable in-building cellular coverage is expected just like water and electricity and is becoming a requirement in residential environments as well as business. A recent NY times article highlighted the current theme driving real estate – ‘The Cellphone Imperative, If I Can’t Text I’m Moving.”
Carriers as well as third party infrastructure companies have been trying to address the tremendous growth in cellular traffic as well as customer expectations. With US cell phone penetration above 100%, a critical tool for carriers to differentiate themselves and gain or retain customers is network quality – commonly measured by the ability to initiate a cell phone connection (attainability), and to maintain that connection through completion (retainability). Data throughput is another key measure of network quality. Smartphone users often create their own perception of data throughput with the 10-second rule – if I don’t get my requested information within 10 seconds (sometimes less), I move on. That move may possibly be to another location or maybe even another service provider.
Wireless service providers have been targeting large venues (public stadiums, hotels/resorts, large office buildings, campus environments, shopping malls, etc.) and specific geographies with full service DAS solutions or limited scope small cell deployments.
Multicarrier DAS solutions are more complex and very expensive. Current small cell technology is limited to serving an individual wireless provider and proving somewhat difficult to cost effectively deploy, operate and integrate into the service providers’ overall network operations. Service providers can’t address the potential enormous demand for in-building coverage with DAS or small cell solutions.
Is Wi-Fi calling the answer? Wi-Fi calling has been available for some time through downloaded apps like Skype, Viber and Whatsapp as well as boutique carries. Now the top mainstream wireless service providers have integrated Wi-Fi calling into their off-the-shelf smartphones. Some service providers consider Wi-Fi calls excluded from any allotted monthly calling minutes, others may not and international calling may have its own restrictions. Be sure to check with your provider if your objective is to reduce or eliminate minutes of use charges.
If you have poor cellular coverage and have Wi-Fi enabled Internet connection, this can be a very viable solution. Typically, enabling Wi-Fi calling is activated through your phone’s settings and it requires connectivity to a private or public Wi-Fi network with Internet access.
Are there any downsides to Wi-Fi calling? If you typically have Wi-Fi enabled on your smartphone and regularly use available access Wi-Fi networks there is probably very little impact.
Making a call over Wi-Fi consumes very little bandwidth. Wi-Fi calling provides a good alternative for service providers to alleviate cellular coverage issues.
However, data usage, e.g., music or video streaming, on-line gaming, or any high intensive application, is a separate concern. Herein lies the crux of the issue. Studies indicate over 60% of current smartphone data traffic is currently sent via Wi-Fi networks. Can we get even more data traffic over that local Wi-Fi network and into the Internet? Delivering additional data capacity may require a “bigger” Wi-Fi Internet pipe or additional service provider deployed capacity solutions such as higher speed backhaul, targeted DAS or small cell solutions.
Public and even enterprise sponsored private Wi-Fi networks have security drawbacks. Where are your data and your transactions safest? If you are concerned connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, this solution may not be for you. The presumably more secure service provider managed connection may be your only option.