Month: September 2016

Md7 Ireland May Soon Enjoy Krispy Kreme!

While recently scrolling through my LinkedIn Newsfeed, I noticed that a long time friend and industry colleague Chris Hillabrandt, had “Liked” a key article – “Krispy Kreme doughnuts are coming to Ireland.” I think that Chris and his family who moved a little over a year ago to Europe from Texas would agree – Yes! This is key.

krispykreme

If you have ever eaten a Krispy Kreme doughnut, then you understand.

In college my friends and I would take late night study breaks to Krispy Kreme. If we timed it right, the “Hot Now” sign was flashing in the window and nirvana was achieved as we savored warm glazed doughnuts and drank soda from Styrofoam cups filled with inexplicably delicious ice pellets.

Ever since Michael Gianni and Mark Christenson opened the first Md7 office in Europe in August of 2007, Md7 team members have been sharing ideas, information and culture between our US and European operations. IMHO – this is the best one yet!

According to the article, the closest of the two potential locations for a future Krispy Kreme in Dublin is near the Liffy Valley Shopping Centre which is about 17 minutes from the Md7 office at The Capel Building in Dublin 7. That is a short distance to travel for warm, sugar-glazed bliss.

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Small Cells and Gartner’s Hype Curve

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

The Current State of Small Cells

After much ado, it appears that small cells are finally beginning to be deployed in earnest. The wireless industry has been talking about mass densification and exponential increase in the number of sites via small cells for the last few years. Now it appears the trucks are beginning to roll in significant volume. And that is good news!

However, as an industry, we need to continue to climb the small cell learning curve in both the development of the small cell equipment and in the deployment of that equipment on a site-by-site basis. Just as OEM’s will surely continue to improve small cell technology and work to reduce the size of equipment, service companies and infrastructure providers are still working to develop and standardize workable solutions for backhaul, power, zoning/permitting, attachments rights, etc. And all this needs to be done at a scale and pace to keep up with the exponential demand for bandwidth.

Recently, I was introduced to a better way to understand the evolution of small cells by Mark Kelley, CEO of openRAN, a provider of ultra-high speed carrier Ethernet backhaul. Mark shared how he uses Gartner’s Hype Cycle to view small cell evolution and noted that small cells are currently in the fourth of five phases on the Hype Cycle. The current phase is called the “Slope of Enlightenment.”

Overview of Gartner’s Hype Cycle

According to the Gartner web page, the “Gartner Hype Cycle methodology gives you a view of how a technology or application will evolve over time, providing a sound source of insight to manage its deployment within the context of your specific business goals.”

Sharing further from the Gartner web page:

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Each Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle.

Technology Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.

Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.

Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.

Small Cells and Gartner’s Hype Cycle

As mentioned above, when Mark Kelley applies Gartner’s Hype Cycle to the evolution of small cells it is pretty clear that the technology is currently moving up the “Slope of Enlightenment.” Or, in the adapted words of Gartner, “the benefits of small cells are beginning to crystallize and become more widely understood while some failed technology has been scrapped as second and third generations of technology begin to be deployed.”

With Mark’s permission I share how he illustrates the evolution of small cells on the Gartner Hype Cycle.

md7-graph-2

This is not only true of the technology, but also of the deployment process for small cells. At Md7, we watched the iPhone act as a Technology Trigger for network capacity and thus network densification. We ran up the Peak of Inflated Expectations in 2012 and 2013. And, after a couple of false starts, we retrenched as we went through the Trough of Disillusionment.

Currently, in the second half of 2016, Md7 has encountered a new, tempered excitement as we manage several small cell deployments in the USA and in Europe and climb our way up the Slope of Enlightenment. It is exciting to be a thought leader in the development of new deployment models and processes as we grow through this significant evolution.

If Mark Kelley’s version of Garnter’s illustration holds true, and I believe it will, then the best is yet to come. Over the next three to five years, small cells will transition into the Plateau of Productivity. This is the phase where small cell deployments become widespread, the technology and networks are optimized, the integration of cellular and Wi-Fi plays-out and deployment models become streamlined. And, on top of all that, we will continue to evolve toward 5G.

It is a very exciting time to be in the wireless industry.


Small Cells Zoning – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

On September 8, I had the privilege of moderating a panel at the Tower and Small Cell Summit that accompanied CTIA Super Mobility Show at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, entitled “Small Cell Zoning: It’s A Problem. We Can Fix It.” The panel consisted of three attorneys; two from Southern California – Jeffrey Melching and Tripp May who typically work on behalf of municipalities and Chris Fisher who typically represents carriers in zoning issues and also just happens to be the President of the New York State Wireless Association. I say it was a privilege because these three attorneys are some of the best in the industry and I only had to ask the questions, not answer them.

The panel did a great job discussing best practices and how to find common ground between deploying small cells in the right-of-way and maintaining the aesthetic integrity of communities.

The 15-20 members of the Md7 Land Use team and I often discuss best practices regarding the rapidly evolving practice of deploying small cells in the ROW. I was encouraged to learn that many of the things we practice at Md7 are in fact the same things this panel recommended such as starting to communicate with municipal authorities very early in the zoning process, take the time to educate municipalities on why small cells exist and how it may be time to update the code to address this evolution in technology.

In my own words and in my own opinion, the following is a countdown of the top-five “take-aways” from this talented panel.

5. There are more success stories than horror stories – All three attorneys agreed that more often than not the operators and communities appear to be working together to reach a solution. That doesn’t mean that either side gets everything they want, but rather reasonable compromises are being reached. As is the case with many things, we just hear about the horror stories and often assume that is the norm – it isn’t.

4. Most municipalities do not oppose small cells – Generally, many municipalities recognize the need for, and in some cases even welcome, the new deployment methods to accommodate demand for high-speed connectivity to accommodate data and streaming video. According to Jeff Melching, in many cases the demand for data is beginning to outweigh the opposition against cell sites.

3. Working together and listening pays off – Tripp May pointed out that he often doesn’t even get asked to work with a municipality unless there is an issue and often those issues are caused by a threatening or unreasonable position on behalf of one side that causes the other side to take an aggressive counter position. By simply being reasonable and listening to each other, many of the issues can be avoided.

2. There are pros and cons to the shot clock. While both parties typically recognize and understand the shot clock, it may be equally advantageous to use it as a guide rather than a hard and fast rule. Federal shot clocks require operators to submit “complete” packages for zoning approval and then the zoning authority has 60, 90, or 150 days to approve or reject the submission, depending on the site build. If followed to the letter, an operator and vendor working on their behalf could spend a significant amount of money compiling a complete package for submission in anticipation of “starting the applicable shot clock” only to have it rejected outright and thereby wasting time and money. A better approach may be to discuss in advance the zoning authorities’ concerns and factor those issues in the initial design. This approach requires buy in from both sides- the applicant will need to produce some preliminary visual representations earlier in the process, while the municipality needs to be willing to provide meaningful feedback prior to a complete application and shot clock beginning.

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – In case you haven’t noticed the common thread in the first four of the top five in this list, it is clearly that communication is the key to finding a win/win solution to deploying small cells in the right-of-way. At the end of the one-hour panel I asked all three attorneys “if they wanted all attendees to take away just one thing from the session, what would it be?” All three answered “communication.” Each elaborated uniquely but I would summarize their comments as not only talking but also listening and considering to the other side’s position. More often than not the opposing position is grounded in reason and a mutual solution can be reached if respectful communication occurs.

Candidly speaking, the Land Use team at Md7 has been telling me for several months that communication is simply the best approach to working with municipalities when deploying in the ROW. I am glad to hear the experts agree.