Month: May 2016

Safety in the most dangerous job in America

By Lynn Whitcher, General Counsel

May 2, 2016 through May 6, 2016 marked OSHA’s construction safety week, more formally known as the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. The Stand‑Down focuses on preventing fall hazards in all areas of construction, including tower construction and modification. Participation is easy. Companies are simply asked to discuss fall prevention with their employees.

The wireless industry recently received a sobering reminder of the critical nature of tower construction safety. Inside Towers reports[1] that two tower workers died last week. One man was electrocuted while decommissioning a tower in Wadesboro, North Carolina. He was holding a cable attached to a crane that came in contact with a live electric wire. During the same hour, another man fell to his death while working on a tower at a Damascus, Maryland water treatment plant. In the last decade, nearly 100 tower climbers were killed on the job[2], leading a top OSHA official to call tower climbing the most dangerous job in America.[3]

OSHA believes these deaths are 100% preventable.

Education and training is key to keeping workers safe. To that end, the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) provides several helpful resources for the tower industry:

Videos

Checklists

Md7 applauds the efforts of NATE to focus the industry’s attention on safety and best practices. With approximately 300,000 cells sites in the U.S.[4] and 10,000 tower climbers in telecom[5], safety must remain a top industry priority.

[1] https://insidetowers.com/cell-tower-news-two-tower-workers-are-dead/?utm_source=Inside+Towers+List&utm_campaign=9c0fdd78a9-5_18_20165_12_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_af16c4fc22-9c0fdd78a9-66070353&goal=0_af16c4fc22-9c0fdd78a9-66070353

[2] http://wirelessestimator.com/content/fatalities

[3] https://www.propublica.org/article/cell-tower-fatalities

[4] http://www.ctia.org/your-wireless-life/how-wireless-works/annual-wireless-industry-survey

[5] https://www.propublica.org/article/cell-tower-fatalities


Md7 announces new deals for office space in California, Texas and Washington

SAN DIEGO, CA – May 26, 2016

Md7 continues to grow and reaffirm its footprint in the West Region of the United States through thee new deals for office space in San Diego, Austin and Seattle.

San Diego, California

Md7 has extended the lease of its corporate headquarters in San Diego, California, through December 31, 2022. The company’s U.S. operations have been based out of San Diego for over 13 years.

Austin, Texas

Md7 entered into a short-term lease in Austin, Texas to house its rapidly expanding A&E division, while the company develops a more permanent office space scheduled to open in early 2017.

Seattle, Washington

Md7 signed a five-year lease at the Northgate Executive Center in North Seattle, Washington, which will serve as the company’s regional office for the Pacific Northwest. The building manager is currently overseeing the tenant improvements for the space and the company plans to relocate its Seattle based team members to this new office location in June 2016. Md7 expanded into the Seattle, Portland, and Sacramento markets in July of 2015, through the acquisition of Lexcom Development Corporation.

“We are very pleased to extend the lease for our San Diego office through the end of 2022. Torrey View Corporate Center has been an excellent home for our headquarters and many of our team members” noted Michael Gianni, Md7 CEO and Chairman. “We are also very pleased to secure a long-term location in Seattle and excited about our plans to grow in Austin. We believe these new offices reflect our commitment to the PNW and Texas regions as well as our anticipated growth.”

About Md7

Md7, LLC, based in San Diego, California and Dublin, Ireland is a full service cell site development and real estate services company for the wireless telecommunications industry. Its experience and proprietary systems create greater efficiencies and significant cost savings for the largest wireless operators in the world. Md7 has provided a variety of site acquisition and wireless real estate related services in ten different languages, in 13 different countries in North America, Europe, Africa and Oceana.

To learn more about Md7 please visit www.md7.com.


Without Real Estate Nothing Works

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain

A few years ago, I was eating breakfast in a very crowded restaurant at the Wynn while attending CTIA Super Mobility show in Las Vegas when a young woman noticed our common CTIA lanyards and asked if we could share a table.

At that moment, I knew of only three things that we had in common – we were both carbon based, attending CTIA and hungry. So of course we made small talk about CTIA.

She kicked off the conversation with a typical question “what part of the cellular industry are you in?” When I replied that I work in a very “non-sexy” segment of the industry – real estate, she of course assumed I meant the retail locations.

Because my wife has informed me more than once that site acquisition is not interesting table conversation, I quickly tried to explain how cell site leases work and then shift the focus to her motivation to be in Las Vegas for this show.

As it turns out, she was a technology blogger attending CTIA Super Mobility to see some of the latest gadgets and wireless products. But it was what she said next that got me thinking. She said “so you are saying that we have all of this cool technology on display here this week, and none of it would work without a good, old fashioned real estate deal underneath it.”   Prior to that breakfast I had never thought of it that way, but she was right!

There is no question that various wireless technologies, especially the handsets and apps that run on them, are more interesting than cell site leasing, that is why I often blog on those things as well as wireless real estate. But let’s give ourselves some credit – site acquisition is crucial to the timely deployment and maintenance of a cellular network.

And over the last few years cell site leases have become even more crucial as mobile operators seek to maintain their average revenue per user (ARPU) in a significantly more competitive environment. Operators are paying more attention to rents as their rent rolls are among the top three operational expenditures (OpEx) along with payroll and backhaul.

When engaging site acquisition we need to make sure we are keeping a close eye on the rents in addition to the location and speed of our deployments. As these rents continue to escalate along with the number of sites needed to meet the demand for bandwidth, rent roll will continue to be a key issue for wireless CFO’s because they know their networks will not work without the underlying deals that those rent rolls maintain.

I was so encouraged by my conversation with this young technology blogger that when we exchanged business cards, I thought for sure she would contact me to be interviewed for an article on her tech blog about site acquisition. Unfortunately, I never heard from her. I guess my wife is right.


More Cell Sites – Better, Faster, and Cheaper

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

Better, faster and cheaper.

Better, faster and cheaper. It has been said that in the pursuit of innovation, you can have two of the three, but you cannot have all three, so you need to decide.

I understand the point – to attempt to have all three at once creates a conflict. Further, I agree that in many cases this conflict actually occurs.  But I do not believe it occurs in all circumstances, particularly if you are truly innovating. Or, as discussed in Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma, if you are innovating in a disruptive manner.

If you are simply seeking to continue to do the same ole thing in a better, faster and cheaper way then you will eventually run out of economies of scale and plateau.  True innovation often requires you to blow up your current process, product or service and find a new way to deliver.

The history of business is littered with companies that actually had a first mover advantage, but failed to follow through out of fear that they would eat into their own profit margins and/or make their own products obsolete.

Xerox actually invented the computer mouse, a windows/icon based interface and the laser printer but did not follow through because they chose to focus on the profitability of their photocopying machines.  Instead, they licensed those new technologies to Apple, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard.

Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix for $50mm in 2000, but passed.

Yahoo had the chance to buy Google for $5 billion in 2002, and Facebook for $1 billion in 2006, but backed out on both deals due to price.

Blackberry refused to give up the keyboard when the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

United State Postal Service. Need I say more?

Innovation in Cell Site Deployment

The wireless infrastructure industry needs a new deployment model.  We need to find a better way to acquire and build more cell sites (small cell, as well as DAS and macro sites) that is faster and cheaper. The insatiable demand for data combined with market saturation (everyone already has a mobile phone) have resulted in a new market place for wireless operators and the wireless infrastructure industry must now respond.

At Md7 we invest a lot of money in R&D – research and development. It is not intuitive to believe that a site development company would spend money on R&D, but we have since our inception in 2003, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  We have a full-time team of process managers, data managers, software engineers and programmers that continuously seek to improve LiveTrack™, our site development and lease administration software.  We have actually blown it up, rebuilt and even renamed it several times over the last 13 years.

Over the last 12 months, the wireless infrastructure industry has seen site development pay-points decrease significantly while the pressure to deliver NTPs, and get sites on-air faster has significantly increased.  Both are a result of pressure to be cheaper and faster, but as an industry, we have not yet seen a lot of innovation to be better.

Simply hiring more site acquisition personnel and leaning on them to magically produce faster result on thousands of small cells for less money without a new, disruptive process or technology will not produce the desired results.

The site acquisition process must be blown up and redesigned to be better, which inherently result in cheaper and faster processes.

The LiveTrack™ team at Md7 (our R&D department) works everyday with our program and project managers to develop new ways to track, measure and improve every step in the site development process.   And the words Better, Faster and Cheaper, or “BFC” as Jeff Krauel, the Chief Architect of LiveTrack™ abbreviates it, is a part of their daily nomenclature.