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.