Category: Blog

Md7 Announces ISO 9001:2015 Certification in Europe

Dublin, Ireland – 27 November 2018 – Md7 is pleased to announce that its European operation, Md7 International Telecommunications Ltd (MITL), has achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification. This certification is in addition to the company headquarters, in San Diego, achieving ISO 9001:2015 certification earlier this year.

ISO 9001:2015 is the most recognized and widely used business management system in the world, designed to help organizations meet and exceed the expectations and needs of their customers and other interested parties. As part of the certification process, the entire Md7 team in Europe participated in an audit of its business operations in Dublin, Ireland; Maastricht, the Netherlands; and Dusseldorf, Germany.

John Cahill, Vice President of Business Development, noted that “Achieving ISO 9001:2015 certification in both the USA and Europe is a great accomplishment and provides a foundation for maintaining quality as Md7 continues to grow globally.”

Md7 maintains a focus on quality throughout the company by embracing its six Core Values. In particular, two of the core values, Extreme Service and Continuous Improvement, guide Md7 in maintaining quality through well-defined and documented processes, proactive client communication, and the ongoing development of LiveTrack®, which automates workflow to eliminate errors.

This certification process formalized the Md7 Quality Policy, which states:

Md7 delivers innovative solutions through its Business Process Manual (BPM), which uses:

  • ISO 9001:2015;
  • our Core Values; and
  • any applicable legal requirements
    to provide a framework to guide the organization in documenting, measuring, and continuously improving our practices.

ABOUT MD7

Based in San Diego, California, and Dublin, Ireland, Md7 is a turnkey site development and real estate management company serving the telecommunications industry since 2003. Md7 has provided a variety of site acquisition, lease management, and negotiation services for over thirty operators in twenty different countries and twelve different languages in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Oceania.

To learn more about Md7, please visit https://www.md7.com/.


FCC Building

FCC Takes Steps to Accelerate Wireline and Wireless Broadband Deployment

FCC recently issued its Third Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling, which takes several steps to facilitate deployment of wireline and wireless networks. The biggest step is the adoption of “one-touch make-ready” (OTMR). OTMR will speed deployment time and reduce costs for certain utility pole attachments by letting a new attacher perform work required to make the pole ready for the new attachment. This improves the current process, in which owners of existing attachments perform make-ready work on their attachments. OTMR applies in 30 states; some governmental bodies in the remaining 20 states have already enacted their own OTMR rules, with other jurisdictions likely to follow.    

The FCC clarified issues related to pole attachments. First, new attachers are responsible for damage they cause to existing attachments, but not for consequential damages such as those resulting from a service outage. Second, new attachers are not responsible for the cost of work required to bring a pole with pre-existing violations into compliance with safety and construction standards.

The FCC made official its longstanding policy that attachers may overlash – attach new cables to existing ones – without prior approval from a pole-owning utility. Utilities may require notification up to 15 days prior to overlashing, but the utility can only object if the overlash will “compromise the safety or integrity of existing electric distribution and communications infrastructure.”  

The FCC addressed outdated rate disparities for local exchange carriers (LEC), who are often charged higher rates for pole attachments than “similarly situated” telecommunications providers. Previously, a LEC had to prove it was “similarly situated” to telecommunications providers. With this Ruling, the burden shifts to the utility to show the LEC is NOT similarly situated in order to justify charging the LEC higher attachment rates.

The FCC ruled that moratoria on the deployment of telecommunications services or facilities violate federal law. The FCC noted that temporary moratoria for planning purposes or government study are generally not allowed, nor are moratoria that delay review of applications “until pending local, state, or federal legislation is adopted.” The FCC stated that emergency moratoria may be allowed, but only if competitively neutral; necessary to address emergency, disaster, or public safety needs; and targeted to geographic areas affected by disaster or emergency.

It will be interesting to see how these provisions play out, and it is encouraging to see the FCC take steps to accelerate wireline and wireless broadband deployment.


People working in the office

MD7 Initiates Landlord Management for Vodafone Germany

San Diego, CA – August 21, 2018. Md7 announces that it has initiated landlord management services for Vodafone Germany.  

Md7 has established a landlord hotline and call center in Düsseldorf to manage the relationships with over thirty-thousand cell site and radio base station landlords across Germany for Vodafone. In addition, Md7 provides additional support from its European HQ in Dublin. Md7 uses its industry-specific system, LiveTrack, to create cases and manage a variety of landlord-related issues.

A centralized operation, combined with visibility and transparency into sites and projects, advances the management efficiency and strategic oversight of the mobile network real estate assets, as well as providing improved interaction for the different functional groups and outside vendors.

This is the second landlord management operation established by Md7. In 2016 Md7 began providing landlord management services for Vodafone in the Netherlands from its office in Maastricht.  

“While often overshadowed by advancements in wireless networks and handsets, the underlying cell site lease between each Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and its thousands of landlords is a critical component of every wireless network” said Michael Gianni, Md7 Chairman and CEO.  “Md7 is pleased to assist the MNOs in transforming a traditional cost-center into a proactively managed and optimized real estate portfolio.”

 

ABOUT MD7

Based in San Diego, California, and Dublin, Ireland; Md7 is a turnkey site development and real estate management company serving the telecommunications industry since 2003.  Md7 has provided a variety of site acquisition, lease management, and negotiation services for over thirty operators in eighteen different countries and twelve different languages in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Oceana.

To learn more about Md7, please visit https://www.md7.com/.


integrity

Integrity – Personal and System

We recently asked several of the Md7 team members which of our six Core Values is their favorite.  We got a variety of answers, but the most common was:

“Integrity, because without it none of the other five core values matter.”  

We are proud many of our employees think that way.  

Jeff Krauel, Vice President of Information Technology and the chief architect of LiveTrack™, the workflow system for site development and landlord management at Md7, said Integrity was his favorite Core Value, but for a different reason.  Jeff stated:

“Just as personal integrity is a reflection of an individual, so the integrity of a system (and the data it manages) is reflective of the company.”  

Jeff leads the team that designed, developed and maintains LiveTrack™.  He prefers not to refer to LiveTrack™ as software, because that implies a tool that is rolled-out and updated in versions – 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, etc.  Jeff and the Md7 LiveTrack™ team have built a living system that quickly adapts to the continuously evolving needs of both internal and external users.  

In life, you can rely on people with integrity because you know they are consistent and can be trusted. Similarly, at Md7, our internal and external customers depend on the system integrity of LiveTrack™ to provide them with consistent information to make quick and accurate decisions.  

In other words, integrity provides consistency; which makes things predictable, reliable and trustworthy.  

Or as Jeff likes to say, we strive to “get the right information, to the right people, at the right time to enable them to make the right decision.”  


The (Updated) Perfect Storm for Wireless Operators

In October of 2009, I forecasted on a now-defunct blog that our industry was approaching “The Perfect Storm for Wireless Operators.” I now offer an updated blog based on hindsight and the current state of the wireless industry.  

In 2009 I wrote:

Today in both Europe and North America, the wireless industry shows its own combination of circumstances which could create a future perfect storm:

 

  1. Market saturation – it is estimated that 85-90% of Americans own a cell phone and the number in many European countries are estimated to be at or over 100%,
  2. Cheaper “all-you-can-eat” rate plans – in the USA, all of the four major carriers offer voice/data plans for $99/month and Metro PCS offers voice plans for as low as $50/month, and
  3. Increasing OPEX – the two largest expenses for wireless carriers are payroll and rent roll and both are inflating.  

 

It doesn’t take a meteorologist to forecast enormous pressure on cellular operating margins.  

That prediction was based on fundamental economics.  As an industry approaches market saturation competition increases, prices begin to fall, and companies start to focus on operating expenses to protect their margins.  

When I gazed into my crystal ball in 2009, I failed to scry the fourth, and the arguably most severe storm that impacts our industry today – the insatiable demand for wireless data.  At that time the iPhone was only two years old, and as a loyal Blackberry user, I just failed to foresee the explosive growth in OTT and other high-bandwidth apps.

With the benefit of hindsight and current market trends, the following is an updated assessment of what I call “the Perfect Storm for Wireless Operators.”

  1. Market Saturation (aka – wireless penetration rates) – Estimates vary widely, but Wikipedia has concisely compiled info confirming that both the USA and almost all of Europe have far exceeded 100% penetration.  
  2. Increased Price Competition – This is obvious.  You see many deals advertised on TV, and everywhere you go.  Operators are now trying to prop up their price plans with content – See AT&T/Time Warner merger.  
  3. Increasing Opex – Payroll and rent roll for cell sites remain two of the top Opex line items on operators’ profit and loss statements.  I now add a third line item, backhaul. The cost of fiber in a 4G, soon to be 5G world will be a critical line item to watch.  
  4. Demand for data is driving CapEx – Operators have significantly increased their Capex budgets to upgrade and modify their existing cell sites more frequently and rapidly than ever before.  They are also now underlaying their existing networks with small cells. Millions of new microsites are needed. These are becoming very common throughout Asian and the USA and are now beginning to develop in Europe as well.  

Summary

As often occurs when an industry matures, competition due to market saturation creates downward price pressure and increased focus on operating margins.  This is typical. However, in the wireless industry, this pressure is compounded by the increased need to deploy capital to meet the demand for bandwidth.  Over the next few years, the wireless infrastructure industry needs disruptive innovation.

At Md7, we welcome the challenge.   


state legislature small cell map

Streamlining Small Cells Entitlements at the State Level

At last week’s Connectivity Expo or “Connect (X)” show in Charlotte, North Carolina, panel moderators and audiences alike asked the tower companies and carriers whether they were looking for intervention by the Federal Communications Commission to help streamline the entitlement process for small cells at the federal level.  It might surprise you to hear that the answer was, pretty uniformly, “no.”

Instead, the industry is hoping that reasonable state and local legislation will strike the right balance between the government’s interest in safe and responsible deployments and the industry’s drive to build the wireless network demanded by the consumers located in the very same area.

As shown in the map above, provided by the State Capitals: Building a 5G Future panel at Connect (X), seventeen states have already enacted legislation streamlining small cell siting, with one more state legislature having passed a bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature.

In jurisdictions like California, where the carriers and tower companies have long been looking for outside relief from the difficulties in clearing local entitlement challenges for small cells, attempts to pass state level relief have not been successful.  California’s most recent attempt to tackle the issue, Senate Bill 649, was passed by the state legislature but ultimately vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown at the 11th hour.  Panelist Monica Gambino, Vice President, Legal for Crown Castle, said it was not clear whether the state would see another piece of small cell legislation before Governor Brown is termed out of office this year.

The scope of issues facing California are not unique:

  • What are appropriate fees?
  • How do we achieve the right balance in residential areas?
  • What are the design solutions for communities with underground utilities?

We hope that California and the other states facing small cell siting challenges, like the seventeen states before them, find workable solutions to these issues.  If the industry is to support the vision of  5G, and the promises of self-driving cars, smart cities, the internet-of-everything, and the technical developments in connected devices that we haven’t yet even dreamed of inventing, the industry will need help breaking through the current barriers to deployment.


Md7 Dusseldorf Office

Md7 Opens Office in Düsseldorf, Germany

DUBLIN, IRELAND – May 8, 2018. Md7 announces the opening of a new office in Düsseldorf, Germany to expand its offering of Landlord Management services.

Md7 Düsseldorf OfficeThe addition of the Düsseldorf office is the latest expansion of Md7 in its effort to innovate ways to better manage and optimize wireless real estate assets for customers worldwide. Md7 now has European offices in Dublin, Maastricht and Düsseldorf, as well as field personnel in other locations in Europe.

“Germany has traditionally been a large and successful market for Md7 and we are very excited about this expansion including all of the new members joining our team,” said Mark Christenson, President. “This new office space will allow Md7 to better serve our current customers in Germany and grow our services with both current and future customers in country.”

Md7’s Landlord Management services are based on Md7’s industry-specific knowledge and expertise regarding network real estate and are supported by Md7’s purposed-built, LiveTrack™ software.

 

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 twelve different languages, in 16 different countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceana.

To learn more about Md7 please visit www.md7.com or contact us at info@md7.com


barriers to small cells

Top Barriers for Small Cells

The United Kingdom based Small Cell Forum recently released their annual Small Cell Market Status Report which included a wealth of statistics and trends about the rapidly evolving deployments of small cells worldwide.  The report included a list of top barriers to small cell deployments as identified through a survey of 78 different mobile network operators (MNOs) from across the globe.  

I took the liberty of categorizing the list of barriers into four general groups and offering some commentary on each.  

  1. The cost to build and operate small cells – The cost to deploy and operate a single small cell is still significantly higher than MNO targets which is an obvious barrier.  The industry must continue to innovate both the technology as well as the deployment process.
  2. Identifying approvable sites – Because small cells are still a new concept to many communities, the approval process can be lengthy and difficult.  Jurisdictions and communities need to be educated about the needs and advantages of small cells. As an industry, we are still in the early stages of generating awareness and developing processes for site approvals.  As deployments continue, awareness will increase, the process will be refined, and speed will improve with scale.
  3. Availability and costs of backhaul – This is a big one.  Simply put there is not enough fiber in enough places to support the anticipated deployments.  Large investments are needed to push fiber closer to the end users.
  4. Interoperability with macro sites, Wi-Fi and HetNets – This is a network engineering and design issue which is outside the area of expertise for Md7. However, we do regularly encounter this fourth barrier.  Even if we overcome the first three barriers listed above, if the engineers can’t make it work within their overall design, then we have to start over.

Conclusion: As an industry, we are beginning to see movement on all of the top barriers to small cells but are still a long way from achieving significant economies of scale.


FCC

FCC Rule Changes Stir-up Dust

To be candid, I typically find panels that discuss regulatory updates at wireless conferences a bit dry.  However, I attended a good one two weeks ago at the South Wireless Summit in Nashville, Tennessee that discussed recent rule changes by the FCC.  The panel consisted of Marvin Webster of ECA, Woo Lim of Terracon and Doug Butler of Trileaf.  They did a good job of keeping it short, sweet and relevant.

After the conference, I connected with Marvin who shared with me two summaries that are posted online.  These are both excellent overviews of changes made by the FCC.

As these two summaries highlight, the FCC has:

  1. defined five specific characteristics that exempt small cells from NEPA and NHPA;
  2. streamlined procedures for filing Environmental Assessments (EAs);
  3. created a new Tribal Consultation Shot Clock; and
  4. clarified that applicants do not have to pay up-front review fees when providing tribes an opportunity to comment on proposed deployments.

Obviously, these are all very favorable for wireless deployments in the USA, especially as we gear-up for 5G.  However, the dust stirred up by these changes has not yet settled. As the industry moves forward and begins to apply these new rules I expect to see some challenges. 

These rules were passed 3-2 along party lines in a divisive political climate, strip away a revenue source for tribal consultations, and among other things, indicate a rebalancing of the approval process for wireless deployments.  

It is hard to imagine the dust settling quickly.


Wireless West 2018

Wireless West Opening Night

By: Lynn Whitcher, General Counsel

April 10 – 12, 2018, J.W. Marriott, Los Angeles

The third annual Wireless West Conference is just around the corner, and we are excited the show will be in our backyard, downtown Los Angeles – or “DTLA” as locals like myself call it.  Over 500 industry professionals are expected to attend, which is impressive for any infrastructure conference, let alone one lead by the local state wireless associations, Arizona Wireless, California Wireless, Colorado Wireless, Nevada Wireless, and Northwest Wireless.  

Md7 will once again host the opening night reception on April 10th at the rooftop pool area, starting at 7:00 PM.  If you aren’t sure whether you will join us at this year’s show, here are some of the reasons we continue to support this conference year after year.

1. Cutting Edge Industry Discussions

At some conferences, you hang out at the lobby to network rather than attend a panel session on a hyper technical topic, or one that is a poorly disguised sales pitch from a wireless industry vendor.  Being a member of the Wireless West planning committee, I can attest to the amount of research and planning Co-Executive Director Patti Ringo puts into every session so that the conference covers the cutting edge issues facing the West Coast and Rocky Mountain regions.  

This year, the show will include a discussion on the current state of the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Advisory Council (commonly called BDAC), especially following the high-profile resignation from the Council by San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo.  We look forward to learning more about the industry’s response to the claim by 36 mayors that the FCC is not properly focused on removing barriers to broadband deployment.   

Additional topics include smart cities, trends in wireless hiring, and of course, small cells.  

2. Engaging Key Note Speakers

Los Angeles Rams CTO, Skarpi Hedinsson, and COO & EVP of Football Operations, Kevin Demoff, will discuss the technology investments at the Inglewood Stadium, the future home of the Rams and Chargers.  Early reporting on the stadium’s “Oculus” immersive experience video board suggest next-generation technology befitting the long-awaited return of Los Angeles as a two-NFL team city.  Los Angeles fans are notorious for leaving large venues early to beat traffic, so if the stadium fan experience gets locals to stay through the end of a home game, that will be impressive!

3. Venue

Conference Co-Executive Director Kari Willis, and her E-Factor team, take the industry trade show experience to the next level.  They pour their heart and soul into every detail so that conference attendees needs are anticipated, and expectations exceeded.

In short, we wouldn’t miss it and we hope to see you there!


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