Author: Tom Leddo

Md7 Blog - Five Things You Need to Eliminate Deployment Calls

Five Things You Need to Eliminate Deployment Calls

To eliminate deployment calls you need five things.

  1. Realistic forecasting. Proper forecasting is the foundation for a successful implementation. Without it, the project will spin out of control. Be realistic upfront, and it will go much smoother.
  2. A well-defined and mutually agreed deployment process. A defined process allows everyone to know where we are going and how we are going to get there.
  3. Proper tracking and reporting of the process. Good reporting of each step in the defined process including forecasts for delivery promptly informs every one of the status. If the info in a report is trustworthy, there is no need to discuss trackers line-by-line.
  4. Proper execution. Execution is the most important. Talented, hard-working, experienced people are needed to execute the plan. Over time this results in trust. As trust develops, the need for scheduled calls diminishes.
  5. Trust. Immediately notify all key people as soon as you know something is going to delay the process significantly. This notification not only allows everyone time to adjust but also builds trust. Without trust, deployment calls are required to create routine accountability and uncover problems and delays. Trust is crucial to eliminating deployment calls, but that trust must be earned!


Scaling Small Cells One Community at Time

Scaling Small Cells One Community at a Time

Small cells are still new to most communities, and each community must go up its own learning curve and develop its deployment guidelines. No two cities are the same, and each must make its own decisions.

A recent article in RCR Wireless News highlights some challenges faced on a Verizon deployment in Palo Alto, California. As the article notes that due to “the unique nature of each site and the regulatory process that governs a particular location, it’s difficult to establish a scalable, predictable process.

But scale can be achieved.

Md7 is currently working on small cell deployments in over twenty-five cities. As this number continues to increase we have found that several aspects of small cell deployments can scale. For example, site walks and CAD designs can be standardized on a single pole type within a community. Thus, as noted in RCR, the work can often be completed in hours or days. But we do have to wait for each community to make aesthetic decisions which can take months.

As we work across more communities, we are learning how to reduce the wait time. We are learning how to educate communities on the need for small cells. We are getting much more efficient and wiser in our submissions. And we are learning to steer and advise communities as they make decisions.

Small cells fit very well in the Md7 business model of efficiency gained through scale and standardization of process. Economies of scale in some areas are quick, and others will take more time. However, even the challenges we face are beginning to nicely iron out as we work across more communities.


Join Md7 at Wireless West 2017

Next month marks the second annual Wireless West Conference, which will be be held April 19 – 20, 2017 at the newly renovated Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California.  Md7 will be sponsoring the opening night networking social.  We hope to see you there!

Wireless West is hosted by five west coast wireless associations — the California Wireless Association, Northwest Wireless Association, Arizona Wireless Association, Nevada Wireless Association, and Colorado Wireless Association.  

Md7 is excited to support the efforts of this amazing conference, which in its inaugural debut last year brought together over 500 wireless professionals from all corners of the industry to share ideas on cutting edge industry issues, particularly those faced in the West Coast and Rocky Mountain regions.  The 2017 conference will cover smart cars and smart cities, regulatory issues under the current administration, drones, and social media.  


What is a Smart City?

I have been struggling for a while to write an article about Smart Cities that addresses three simple goals:

  1. accurately defines the term Smart City,
  2. explains how Smart Cities will impact our future, and
  3. gives an example of an actual Smart City.  

As I often do, I started with searching the term on Google and zeroing in on the definition of a Smart City in Wikipedia.  However, I ended up getting distracted by new terms like Urban Informatics, and reading tangential articles that were extremely interesting but difficult to summarize in a single article.  The exciting and vast possibilities for the rapidly developing future are simply overwhelming.  

Coincidentally, my colleague, Michele Brod, who is working on an exciting new project for a Md7 customer in Canada, sent me a link to an article published on Mobile Syrup, a Canadian news page that focuses on mobile technology and innovation.  The article addresses the three objectives better than I can do myself so I am simply republishing it below.  

Tom Leddo

 

How three Canadian cities are trying to become smart cities

By Jessica Vomiero

MAR 9, 2017

Upon hearing the phrase “smart city,” a foggy image of the Jetsons probably comes to mind.

Smart cities are still an unknown concept to most urbanites, who don’t realize that changes are currently underway to make the cities they live in smarter. On March 7th, representatives from cities across Canada came together for the second annual SAP Smart Cities Forum, where the future of urban life was explored.

As the director of technology innovation for the City of Kitchener, Dan Murray puts it; the definition of a smart city changes depending on which city you enter, as each city has its own priorities and its own obstacles.

However, for Canadian cities that are looking to become smart cities, one central theme seems to be generally agreed upon, and that is one of efficiency and communication.

While some cities like Mississauga are tackling these concepts by modernizing and improving their transportation portals, others, such as the City of Toronto, are bridging communication gaps by making its data available to its citizens.

Here’s a look at how three Canadian cities are trying to become smart cities.

Toronto: Open Data, Public Transit, IoT

The city of Toronto has been extremely active in making the vast amounts of data its collects available to the public. The city’s open data initiatives have paved the way for all kinds of data-driven projects to come to fruition.

Some of the initiatives currently underway include the Data Catalogue on the city’s website, the public data manipulator Wellbeing Torontogeographic data, and several data-driven apps.

According to the director of enterprise and solutions at the City of Toronto, Fazal Husain, the data obtained through the city’s open data initiatives plays a critical role in helping city workers gain a better understanding the obstacles that stand in the way of Toronto becoming a smart city.

“If the city doesn’t know the problem of day-to-day life that you’re experiencing, I don’t know if we can address it,” says Husain.

He goes on to describe the city’s Cycling App as a prime example of how data initiatives help the city run more efficiently. The Cycling App is an initiative spearheaded by Brisk Synergies for the City of Toronto which allows cyclists to record their cycling routes. This data will be made available to the city for reference when developing cycling network plans.

After a run-in with a pedestrian who raved about the app, Husain was convinced about its potential to improve circumstances for all Toronto cyclists and serve as a model for other city services.

In addition, Toronto is focusing heavily on public transit and IoT as a way to solve the city’s ongoing congestion problems. Going forward, the city is considering an IoT solution to improve the flow of traffic.

Husain concluded by saying that a smart city isn’t an end goal, but a process. “I don’t think a smart city is an end state. It will continue to be developed because technology is not standing still,” says Husain.

Mississauga: Wi-Fi Blanket, Public transit, public outreach, IoT

The City of Mississauga has been extremely active in the smart city movement through public transit initiatives, Wi-Fi enhancement and other forms of public engagement.

Shawn Slack, the city’s director of information technology and chief information officer spoke extensively about Mississauga’s investment in improving public transit across its jurisdiction as a response to one of the GTA’s most pressing concerns.

“So, a lot of our smart city type technologies are investing in advanced traffic management, smart bus technology, so that we can get a better handle around how traffic is moving and then respond when there’s either an accident, or during rush hour, or in making sure we have coordination of services and traffic control,” says Slack.

Slack also emphasized the importance of bringing Wi-Fi to as many corridors of the city as possible. In addition helping to bridge the digital divide, Slack describes that such a robust Wi-Fi network is also invaluable to the consolidation of communication across the city.

He uses the example of communicating with citizens. As City Hall becomes more technologically capable internally, it has the ability to communicate with citizens about relevant announcements and services through web portals, such as video messages. Without reliable internet access, citizens in certain parts of the jurisdiction may not have access to these important messages.

“We want to make sure that if we’re going to tailor communication, people have the capacity to get internet in that area,” says Slack.

In order to sustain this model, the City has partnered with multiple parties across the region, including the Region of Peel, Brampton and Caledon as well as several hospitals and universities. These partnerships ensure that services like this one remain affordable.

“It’s an economy of scale. So we have a private fibre network within the region of Peel. And it’s a partnership between the city of Mississauga, Brampton, town of Caledon and the Region of Peel, the hospitals and the post-secondary schools. We’ve built enough fibre within the region to go around the planet once. If the city were to build that on its own, it wouldn’t be as affordable and the benefits wouldn’t be as effective,” continues Slack.

Kitchener: Outreach, incubators, eServices, public transit

While the City of Kitchener doesn’t see a value in blanketing its jurisdiction with Wi-Fi, city leadership has developed a four-part plan to work towards becoming a smart city.

The director of technology, innovation and e-services at the City of Kitchener, Dan Murray, says that there isn’t one definitive standard for what a smart city will be. It all depends on the individual city’s circumstances.

Kitchener leadership placed a heightened emphasis on the community aspect of ‘smart city,’ by spending 18 months developing the Digital Kitchener strategy.

“We tried to leverage technology to improve the lives of the citizens in Kitchener. That’s kind of how we approached this. We approached a technology strategy with a strong community focus to it,” says Murray.

Kitchener’s strategy calls for the to be city, connected, innovative, on demand, inclusive, and to prioritize the needs that the citizens want to see fulfilled.

The city will aim to install an IoT network and fibre optic capability in areas where it would improve civic life, and implement on-demand e-services to reach citizens on the digital platforms they’re active in.

Moreover, the City of Kitchener is a fast-growing innovation hub in Canada, which is largely incorporated into the city’s smart city ambitions.

Communitech, for example, is the largest technology incubator in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and one of the most well-known across Canada. This incubator and others will play a significant role in becoming more digitally-enabled.

“Every city also has their own realities and their own factors that are at play. I think what we try and do is look for various ideas among municipalities but you have to try and adapt them for what makes sense for yourself. And that’s really what we were trying to do with digital Kitchener, was gain an understanding of the things that are of interest to the citizens of Kitchener.”

Smart cities, by the city

When it comes to smart cities, every region has its own idea of how to get there. They all agree on one thing however; a smart city will be in a constant state of development.

As technology evolves and changes, so to will its uses in civic life. Even more importantly, as cities evolve and change, so to will their requirements of the technology they use.

Between cross-platform Wi-Fi, consolidated transportation and data-driven initiatives, it’s fair to say that citizens will begin to feel the effects of these changes extremely soon. Perhaps the ever-elusive smart city isn’t so much about achieving an end goal, but rather, a way for technology to truly change the civic experience.


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A Look Forward Over the Next Four Years

By Tom Leddo, Chief Operating Officer

This is the second article in a two-part series. Article one is titled “A Look  Over the Last Eight Years.”

In the accompanying blog, A Look Back Over the Last Eight Years, I write about the cultural changes that have occurred from 2009-2017, the timeframe when Barack Obama was President of the United States. Of course, I am commenting on the revolutionary changes that resulted from the mainstream acceptance of the smartphone – not politics. The inspiration for that blog was the number of smartphones being used to take photos of Obama as he greeted attendees at his farewell speech in Chicago during his last week in office. As I watched this play out on TV, I pondered how “that would not have even been possible eight years prior because not enough people owned a smartphone when George W. Bush left office.”

In this accompanying blog, I pause to look ahead to the cultural changes we anticipate as the smartphone continues to impact our daily lives. Similar to when I watched the Obama farewell address, I watched Donald Trump take the oath of office and noticed someone holding a phone over Trump’s left shoulder (note the screenshot above). This individual shot a personal video of the historic moment when the Constitutional Republic of the United States of American transfers power.

If we look forward over the next four years or so, I am sure we will be amazed at the continued technological advancements over the duration of President Donald Trump’s administration. We will see significant network evolutions including 5G wireless and the Internet of Things enabling smart cities, autonomous operations, real-time health monitoring and a plethora of applications to advance society and make our lives easier.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, we can expect big advancements in software that brings voice recognition into the mainstream, turning our phone into a hub that controls our entire home and blows our mind with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.

This WSJ article also points out that we may see a plateau in the development of smartphones themselves. In other words, we do not expect a lot of innovation in the hardware unless there are huge leaps in the use of pliable glass that may allow us to fold a tablet and slip it in our pocket.

Bendable glass! What’s next? Self-lacing shoes? Oh wait, those already exist. Well maybe someone will develop an app that links my phone to my self-lacing shoes for some reason that I can’t yet imagine but will be using daily in the next 4-8 years.

All these mobile apps only work if there is an underlying network with enough capacity to enable them. The insatiable appetite that consumes network bandwidth will not end.   So, In the meantime, Md7 will keep working to get sites On-Air Faster to enable this exciting future!


A Look Back Over the Last Eight Years

By Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer

This is the first article in a two part series. Article two is titled “A Look Forward Over the Next Four Years.”

As I watched President Barack Obama’s Farewell speech delivered on January 10, from McCormick Place, the large, sprawling convention center near downtown Chicago I couldn’t help but reflect on all the change that has occurred over the last eight years.

After President Obama finished his speech, he walked along a rope and greeted hundreds of supporters, many of which worked on his campaign teams or on his staff in the White House. Our culture has shifted over the last eight years because of his leadership and the policies he implemented. However, as I watched him greeting the crowd with hundreds of camera phones flashing in his face, I realized that our culture has also significantly changed due to the impact of the smartphone and all the subsequent apps and technology. Mobile Technology is rapidly changing our daily lives impacting society, politics, interactions, experiences and opportunities for those across the globe.

As the President strolled the rope line shaking hands, hundreds of people were using their phones to snap up-close photos. Others were turning their backs to him to snap a selfie with him in the background. I am sure there were some who were even broadcasting this moment on Facebook Live.

Think about it. We now have the ability to broadcast worldwide, in real-time, our own personal videos of anything we want by simply clicking on an icon and lifting up our phones.   This is all possible because of the advancements during a mobile revolution that took place more or less over the last eight years.

While the iPhone was actually released in June, 2007 while George W. Bush was in office, it didn’t become mainstream until a year or two later when Barak Obama was in the White House. Since that time web pages like Facebook and Twitter evolved into mobile apps, we began watching movies on the go, and countless new apps were created like Instagram, Periscope, Uber and my personal favorite – UberEats.

All this required massive upgrades and expansion of the wireless infrastructure. Including the introduction of LTE technology and significant and continued capacity additions; fiber deployments and backhaul upgrades; DAS; in-building deployments; small cells; Wi-Fi integration and hotspot technology; cloud-RAN and continued technology advancements to provide better coverage, capacity and wireless network performance with existing as well as new spectrum.

I can’t help but also reflect on the last eight years at Md7. During the 2008-09 timeframe when Obama was elected and came into office, Md7 was still primarily working as a lease optimization company following the consolidation of wireless operators a few years earlier. In 2010 and 2011 we began to capitalize on our experience renegotiating thousands of overlapping leases in response to the industry consolidation expanding to negotiate thousands of lease modification amendments as part of the LTE rollout. We developed new processes to more efficiently execute site development including scaling to deliver projects encompassing thousands of amendments to leases with private landlords, and tens-of-thousands of applications for site upgrades and expansion on sites owned by the major tower companies. Md7 also developed high volume zoning/permitting and land use services to more effectively manage cycle times. Advancements in our LiveTrack™ software took our project management capabilities to an entirely new level. And in 2016, we began working to scale architecture and engineering services as well.

All of this was done in anticipation of the need develop sites for an industry where the growth curve is flattening. Now, Md7’s operating model develops new and existing sites (both macro, micro and small cell) more quickly and at lower costs than we even thought was possibly a few years ago.

As I look back, there is no question, the smartphone was the catalyst for these changes over the last eight years or so. But I have to acknowledge that the single biggest change at Md7 on a day-to-day basis is that we now operate in a much more expense focused and competitive environment. I am glad we were ready for it.


Appropriate Use of a Mobile Phone on Thanksgiving Day

By Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer

The most basic rules of etiquette are clear- you should not use your mobile phone during a Thanksgiving meal. The rules would also state that you should not use your phone while spending time with family before and after the meal. Admittedly, that second one is a little tougher to follow, especially if you have family members with whom you only interact on this single holiday each year and you are not good at chatting about the football game on TV.

However, there is one use of a cell phone that is not only appropriate, but will also significantly improve Thanksgiving or any holiday that involves a large, home-cooked meal. Using it to access one or more of the many planning and recipe apps to help plan and prepare what, for some people, can be an overwhelming feast.

A few years ago I used a popular note-taking app to list out everything I needed to do to host a large Thanksgiving dinner including my annual menu, shopping list, favorite recipes, and even simple tips/reminders that help make the day flow smoothly and less stressful. Then each year, while eating leftovers the following day, I tweak my notes with improvements or lessons learned. Now there are no loudmouth family members complaining because I didn’t make their favorite dish. I have also fine tuned my timing so that all the food is ready more or less at the same time by simply counting back from the scheduled meal time to when I should begin preparing each individual menu item.

There are a number of recipe apps, note taking apps, and posting boards to choose from. I prefer a note taking app because it allows the most flexibility. As a novice cook, I recommend you try a couple until you find one that works for you. I also offer the following tips and menu from my own notes to help you get started.

Annual Thanksgiving Menu

  • Turkey
  • Mom’s Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Susanna’s Baked Yams
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Corn – frozen
  • Mom’s Cranberry Salad
  • GrandMa’s Graham Cracker Chocolate & French Vanilla Pudding Cake
  • Rolls
  • Gravy
  • Wine
    • Red – Zinfandel
    • White – Chardonnay

Tips & Reminders

  • Keep the traditions – cook what keeps and passes on memories even if they are a bit hard. One person’s favorite dish makes their holiday more special.
  • Go grocery shopping on Sunday to be completely prepared ahead of time and avoid the rush on Wednesday and allow turkey time to thaw.
  • If serving more items than you have room for on the stove, then use a steamer to cook the veggies. By simply adding lemon juice and Poultry Seasoning in the water then tossing them in olive oil with garlic salt you save time and they taste great.
  • Stuffing tastes better with stale bread – remember to rip open a loaf and leave it out on Wednesday night.
  • Turkey
  • Buy on Sunday and allow to thaw in refrigerator until Tuesday night
    • Brine Tuesday night until Wednesday night or Thursday morning depending on meal time.
    • Remove from brine Wednesday night or first thing Thursday morning, pat dry and place back in refrigerator to dry
    • After it is stuffed, season the top with chopped, fresh poultry herbs/seasoning and then spray with Olive Oil Pam to lubricate the bird

 


An International Perspective on the Challenges Facing the Wireless Infrastructure Industry

By Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer and Lynn Whitcher, General Counsel

Different Cultures, but Similar Challenges

Md7 currently operates in fourteen different countries and eleven different languages. While there are obviously a lot of cultural differences between each of these markets, Md7 has found that each of these countries and regions within are facing a lot of the same challenges as each continues to upgrade and maintain their networks. And, believe it or not, we have also found that many of the solutions to these common infrastructure challenges are similar as well.

In short, Md7 acknowledges that each country and/or market within a given country is unique, but we have found through our efforts to acquire, modify, expand, extend, optimize and even decommission, tens-of-thousands of sites around in North America, Europe, New Zealand and Egypt that the challenges and solutions are more similar than one would assume.

Based on our experience over the last thirteen years, we find that all of the wireless operators we serve are facing the following two challenges.

  1. Managing capital expenditures (CapEx) on continuous and more frequent network upgrades in response to the ever-evolving consumer demand driven by the advent of smartphones, tablets and now even the Internet of Things (IoT).
  2. Managing operational expenditures (OpEx) in response to handset penetration rates in excess of 100%.

Or said another way, operators worldwide have to continuously increase the efficiency and bandwidth of their spectrum and networks while simultaneously operating on tighter budgets.

Independent of country or culture, it is simple economics. In all of the markets in which Md7 operates, the operator’s growth curve has flattened as it crosses 100% penetration, while the customers are demanding more bandwidth at lower prices, on cooler devices.

Disruption is Needed Globally

It’s clear that more cell sites are needed, but given the economic constraints of the industry, the traditional deployment model must be disrupted. In our previous article, More Cell Sites – Better, Faster, and Cheaper, we discussed the 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. At Md7, we are investing a lot of money in R&D to find and improve upon solutions. We believe that the site acquisition process must be blown up and redesigned to be better, which we believe inherently results in cheaper and faster processes.


Md7 Expands Office in Maastricht, Netherlands

Maastricht, Netherlands. Md7 International Telecommunications Limited (MITL) announces that they have moved the location of their Benelux operations centre within the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands. The new office is located at Wim Duisenbergplantsoen 51, 6221 SE Maastricht.

“This is part of our ongoing growth and expansion as we have increased our service footprint with some of our key customers, and we needed additional room to handle increased staffing. We found a location that is more strategic with respect to our customers so that we can more easily engage in ad hoc, face-to-face meetings and planning sessions” said Michael Habets, Benelux Region Program Manager.

According to Mark Christenson, President of MITL, “Md7 has had a presence in or near Maastricht since 2009, and this is the latest evolution of our ongoing commitment to our customers to ensure that we can provide the optimised level of staffing as well as the most efficient level of engagement for the services being provided.”

In addition to a larger space, the new office provides better infrastructure and facilities that represent the company in the best way. “The new office is bright and open, highly technical and welcoming at the same time – I’m not surprised everyone loves it” said Svenja Preisler, Program Manager from Md7’s Dublin office, who, together with some of her team, recently visited the new premises. The team from Dublin visited Maastricht as part of Md7’s commitment its Core Value of Continuous Improvement and engaged in some workshops to exchange knowledge and align processes and procedures between the Dublin and Maastricht teams.

Key to Md7’s success still is our centralised operational model. With the Benelux office in Maastricht and the headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, Md7 is perfectly positioned to live up to its name and expertly serve our clients all over Europe, Africa and Oceania.”


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