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.
As a service provider to the wireless industry, we would like to share our insights, observations, and analysis about what is happening from time to time.