Category: Blog

Outward Mindset

By Michael Moskowitz, Director of Human Resources

At Md7 we encourage employees to embrace a set of 6 Core Values – Integrity, Extreme Service, Continuous Improvement, Respect for the Individual, Giving Back and Balanced Life – because we believe that by doing so, we are supporting beliefs that result in an organization of happier, healthier and more productive people. An annual series of interactive workshops led by Cheryl Bobbitt, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Michael Moskowitz, Director of Human Resources, reinforce the Core Values message to all Md7 employees worldwide.      

This year’s training explores employee motivations, or reasons, for embracing our Core Values in a slightly different way. Where traditionally we have explored and discussed the “what’s in it for me” and “what’s in it for Md7” points of view in promoting our Core Values, this year we will examine Core Values in the context of the “outward mindset.”    

We usually think of the term “mindset” as a way a person views the world around them. This year’s Core Values training will diverge from a more self-focused inward mindset to an others-focused outward mindset when we explore employee motivations for embracing our Core Values and the impact they have on others. Discussions and small group experiential exercises will once again be part of our program agenda; happier, healthier and more productive Md7 employees will be sure to follow!    

 


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.


Using your Phone to Pair Wine with Your Thanksgiving Meal

By Mark Christenson, President, International / CTO

Despite a significant increase in wine drinkers, and newer producers and younger sommeliers trying to demystify wine to make it accessible to everybody, wine can still intimidate, especially when there is already stress from the overhead of needing to provide a huge meal for relatives, many of whom haven’t been seen since last year.  One additional element of how mobile communications is helpful at Thanksgiving is through the many apps that exist to help people choose the right wine to serve at Thanksgiving. It is a question that is fraught with complexity (much like the wines you think you need to serve to your guests).  Some apps that might help you choose a wine include Vivino, Hello Vino, Delectable, and Plonk.  All of these can help answer the question.  White because of the turkey?  But what about the traditional sides like stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries, yams, etc?  What if you just prefer red wine?  Amongst wine aficionados (better known as “wine geeks” or “cork dorks”, people who spend more time debating wine online and in person than actually drinking the stuff), the perfect Thanksgiving wine is an ongoing, much-debated, yet never-resolved topic.  Traditionally there was a simple formula—red wine with red meat, white wine with poultry or fish.  However, sticking to that basic formula would eliminate classic matches such as Pinot Noir with salmon, or Beaujolais with roast chicken, or even Sherry with olives.  Thankfully, even hard-core oenophiles have loosened the dogma in the last two decades.  The first and foremost consideration is whether or not you want to drink a particular wine.  For example, a friend’s wife cannot drink Syrah without suffering severe heartburn (yet she can drink big, bold Cabernet Sauvignons with no problem), so a Northern Rhône or California Syrah is never going to be on their table, regardless of the food.  Second, it is worth remembering that Thanksgiving should be about the getting together of friends and family.  Third, with the variety of foods that typically show up on Thanksgiving menus, it is worthwhile considering “safe” bets that cover a lot of food-pairing territory.  And fourth, are you willing to open more than one wine (e.g., a red and a white, or perhaps even more?).

For that reason, I like to suggest the following.

If you only want to open one wine, I’d go with Zinfandel.  It’s a variety with an American heritage, fitting on this most-American of holidays.  Although styles can vary, they tend to be rich, fruit-forward reds with a bit of spice.  I think they pair well with turkey, ham, chicken, meatballs, or even a roast.  In other words, just about any protein you throw at it will work.

If you have a desire to offer some variety (no grape pun intended), a California Chardonnay, vinified with oak, is a good option.  Most people still tend to love Chardonnay even despite the “Anything But Chardonnay” movement of a few years ago.  And for those who are averse to red wines, this offers a friendly option.  A big Chardonnay will go with the aforementioned main dishes, either pairing well or at least not getting clobbered the way a more delicate, crisp Chardonnay or other grape such as Sauvignon Blanc.  Plus it will work with the sides.

If you really want to offer variety, open something with bubbles.  The obvious choice would be Champagne, but depending on your tastes (and your budget) a sparkling wine from California, a prosecco spumante from Italy, or a cava from Spain would all suffice.  The addition of bubbles along with the wide range of styles (super dry white to off-dry pink) result in a wine that is both festive and surprisingly versatile with food.  In fact, this could be your one-and-only if you wanted to live on the edge but be confident in your selection because I can’t think of virtually anybody who does not enjoy a glass of sparkling wine, especially on one of the 364 days that is not New Year’s Eve.


Wireless Delivery + Content = Densification

By Mark Christenson, President, International / CTO and Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer

Overview

AT&T plans to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion. It is an amazing announcement that has already generated a lot business and political headlines both in support and in opposition to the deal.

AT&T and those in favor of the deal argue that this is vertical integration and does not eliminate any competitors.

Opposition to the deal of course argues that this will make AT&T too big, too powerful and hurt consumers.

Whether you favor this deal or not is not what this article is about. Whether this deal is allowed or not (remember AT&T’s failed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile announced in 2011?) is not my intention to discuss. Whether deal this is successful or not (remember the $164 billion merger between AOL and Time Warner in 2000 that quickly resulted in a $99 billion loss in 2002 and a 90% loss in the market capitalization of AOL?) will not be known for some time.

But there is a takeaway from this announcement that is important for all of us who work in the wireless infrastructure industry – this deal is about the marriage of delivery and content, and regardless of how this deal plays out, more densification is needed in wireless networks.

This deal is about the marriage of delivery and content, and regardless of how this deal plays out, more densification is needed in wireless networks.

 

It’s about the Content

The revenue curve for wireless operators has flattened and ARPU is being pressed down so now operators need to find new ways to grow. In the past that growth came primarily from expanding of the network (specifically by adding coverage through acquisitions or building new sites) and by increasing the speed of the network (faster service drew more subscribers). However, coverage and high speeds have reached some degree of ubiquity. Furthermore, if the United States Department of Justice is going to continue to block future consolidation of wireless operators, then their growth must come from somewhere else.

Additionally, the behavior of wireless consumers is changing. More people are cutting the cord and going exclusively wireless. This includes a change in how people watch their favorite shows. Statistica.com notes that:

“According to Nielsen, over 280 million Americans were watching traditional TV and already over 130 million are watching video content on their phone in 2015. Aside from phones, tablets are also a popular mobile video device, with an estimated 89 million U.S. users watching video content on their tablet devices. These figures are expected to surpass 120 million users in 2019.”

With the traditional method of growth having more-or-less reached capacity, and the changing demands for what and how content is viewed, AT&T is simply seeking to grow their top and bottom lines while simultaneously responding to these new consumer demands. AT&T is seeking to marry Time Warner’s premium content providers like HBO, CNN, Turner Broadcasting and Warner Brothers with their wireless delivery capability.

Densification

In short, AT&T shareholders want growth and AT&T consumers want mobile content.   But, generally speaking, you can’t get mobile access to the content without continuously improving the network.

Wireless networks, are sometimes referred to as “dumb pipes.” However, this deal helps us suddenly view networks correctly, as a strategic asset that, that if combined with the right content, bring significant additional value to consumers and shareholders alike.

This is important and exciting for each of us as a wireless consumer, because the content we want from one source may soon be readily available in the formats and locations we desire.

But as individuals who makes their living in the wireless infrastructure industry, this announcement is huge. It is an $85 billion bet that video will dominate wireless traffic in the near future. And more video traffic means significantly more capacity is needed. That “content pipe” needs investment and expansion along with the content in order to ensure the content is available to the voracious appetite of consumers.

The unprecedented amounts of traffic that will soon be flowing through wireless networks means that the traditional, macro networks we spent the last 30+ years building must continue to rapidly evolve and be enhanced. The current evolution is the large-scale deployment of small cells, creating densification that will handle the traffic.

However, small cells are different from the macro sites that have been deployed in the last three decades. Apart from the obvious differences of the hardware components and the coverage provided, we need to implement new, scalable and cheaper deployment models. We need new processes to manage the ongoing maintenance and upgrades of what may be 10x the number of small cells when compared to macro sites. We need updated municipal codes, different value propositions for those involved in hosting sites, and different economics for all parties to ensure long-term sustainability. And while it all needs to happen quickly, there is still a lot of uncertainty and a lack of unity when it comes to the details. To quote Jay Brown, CEO of Crown Castle, who spoke at the HetNet Expo this week in Houston “the deployment of small cells is really challenging, but telling you that is like describing the flood to Noah.”

Regardless of what happens in the AT&T/Time Warner deal, mobile video will continue to be the new norm. In other words, wireless networks need to be densified and we have lots of work to do.


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.

map

 

 


Why Do We Need Small Cells?

Because the way we use our mobile phones has evolved.

smallcellsicons

 


 

 The forecast for mobile video

By 2020, it is forecasted that wireless networks will carry 30.6 exabytes of video each month. That is the equivalent of 7.6 billion DVDs or a little more than one DVD for every person on the planet.

Video is and will continue to be a huge driver of the need for adequate capacity in networks.


 

smallcellsimg

Traditional cell sites on tall towers and rooftops (“macro sites”) provide excellent coverage for large areas, but they do not offer the bandwidth needed to support the current growth rate of mobile data usage. Small Cells are placed on street lights and utility poles along public roads to alleviate the capacity strain on macro sites. They enhance coverage in locations where macro sites need support, such as beaches, residential neighborhoods and dense downtown areas. Small Cells are paving the way for the enhanced mobile network of the future, all while maintaining a much lower visual impact on the community than traditional macro sites.


Old code, New tricks: The Challenge of Deploying Small Cells when the Municipal Code is Outdated

By Sharon Gretch, Zoning Manager

‘Change is the heartbeat of growth.’ – Scottie Somers

Outdated wireless code. The bane of jurisdiction staff and telecommunication professionals alike. Old code that may not address new technology, much less consider changes in Federal law.  As my grandmother used to say, “If you don’t like it – change it.” Wise woman.

A key factor in building a better city, a better county, a better community is to have a solid zoning code. We understand and want to be a part of that; working hand-in-hand with the communities in which we do business. Given the speed that wireless technology is morphing, many jurisdictions, though industry savvy, do not have a full understanding of what technology is available and how this technology can be utilized to best integrate into their communities.

There is code out there that hasn’t been changed since 2003 and technology has radically evolved in 13 years. The way we use data/video today was virtually science fiction when a lot of these older codes were adopted. Yet, there are a few municipal codes that are stuck in a time where the Blackberry PDA and even the Motorolla Startac were the hot consumer buy of the day. Why? Time and staff. Jurisdictions do not have the time or the personnel to amend code. They are busy facing the unique challenges of their communities; slaying those home grown dragons one at a time. They don’t have the time to contemplate, research and propose best practices as fast as the cell sites evolve.

Resultantly, we’re left doing the best we can to provide a design that works for our clients and the community under limited scope. The outcome – a monopole in the front yard of a residential district. The code says we can…but should we? Things like that create angry citizens, bad PR for our clients and, worst case; moratoria where progress can come to a screeching halt.

This is where we can facilitate change. We have the ability to provide the education, industry know how and access to our diverse library of wireless codes from across the United States to build a better code.

Taking the time to address code changes can be a benefit to both the community, jurisdiction and client.

  • For our clients? A huge benefit – time to market. Even though the process can initially be time consuming, reduction in confusion, refined process and clear code makes for a much speedier process down the road.
  • For Jurisdictions? Breaking down the old code and creating a code that meets the needs of a growing community; matching the unique community culture with the code

And that’s what this is what Md7 is all about – serving our clients, our neighbors and our communities to the best of our abilities with respect and integrity.


Small Cells in an Environmentally Protected Area

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

Michael Habets, Md7’s Key Account Manager for the Benelux Region of Europe who works in the Md7 office in Maastricht, Netherlands, doesn’t usually attend site walks. However, this particular walk was not typical so he decided perform the work personally – and as a result his calves were sore for days!

You see, Michael spent fifteen hours in the winter, walking on a beach in thick sand. He estimates he walked a total of 27 kilometers in total over two and a half days with his backpack and gear in tow. All this in search of the best site acquisition strategy for deploying small cells to provide coverage on a beach in Walcheren, the popular tourist area along the the coast of Zeeland (the westernmost province of the Netherlands).

The local community and business owners wanted the coverage to help support the tourist-based economy, driven by Dutch and German tourists on holiday during the summer months. The county conducted their own study and requested the help of mobile operators. Gaining community support can sometimes be challenging, but this case was different.

The challenge of providing mobile coverage for this stretch of beach along the North Sea is that the beach rests below large dunes that block coverage from the inland cell towers (or masts as they call them in the Netherlands) and these dunes cannot be disturbed in any way. So the real challenge was providing power and backhaul to support a beach that has been awarded the international “Blue Flag” environmental award eleven straight years for clean water and sand

B0HC61 Beach pavilion, North Sea coast near Zoutelande, Walcheren, Zeeland, Netherlands

As you can see from the accompanying photos, this popular tourist location during the summer months has beautiful beach pavilions every few hundred meters along the shoreline where vacationers eat Fish (Zeeuwse Garnalen / Zeeuwse shrimps) and drink pints of Heineken and the Belgian beer, Jupiler, each summer.

Due to the dunes, no new power can be brought in and each small cell node must be powered by the existing electrical system at each beach pavilion. That power was originally installed decades ago. Additionally, a microwave daisy chain had to be designed from pavilion to pavilion for backhaul. This too was a challenge due to the high winds from the sea.

According to Michael, it was an unusual but fun project as he was able to help in the deployment of the latest technology in order to provide much needed coverage and support the local tourist industry.


Without Real Estate Nothing Works

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain

A few years ago, I was eating breakfast in a very crowded restaurant at the Wynn while attending CTIA Super Mobility show in Las Vegas when a young woman noticed our common CTIA lanyards and asked if we could share a table.

At that moment, I knew of only three things that we had in common – we were both carbon based, attending CTIA and hungry. So of course we made small talk about CTIA.

She kicked off the conversation with a typical question “what part of the cellular industry are you in?” When I replied that I work in a very “non-sexy” segment of the industry – real estate, she of course assumed I meant the retail locations.

Because my wife has informed me more than once that site acquisition is not interesting table conversation, I quickly tried to explain how cell site leases work and then shift the focus to her motivation to be in Las Vegas for this show.

As it turns out, she was a technology blogger attending CTIA Super Mobility to see some of the latest gadgets and wireless products. But it was what she said next that got me thinking. She said “so you are saying that we have all of this cool technology on display here this week, and none of it would work without a good, old fashioned real estate deal underneath it.”   Prior to that breakfast I had never thought of it that way, but she was right!

There is no question that various wireless technologies, especially the handsets and apps that run on them, are more interesting than cell site leasing, that is why I often blog on those things as well as wireless real estate. But let’s give ourselves some credit – site acquisition is crucial to the timely deployment and maintenance of a cellular network.

And over the last few years cell site leases have become even more crucial as mobile operators seek to maintain their average revenue per user (ARPU) in a significantly more competitive environment. Operators are paying more attention to rents as their rent rolls are among the top three operational expenditures (OpEx) along with payroll and backhaul.

When engaging site acquisition we need to make sure we are keeping a close eye on the rents in addition to the location and speed of our deployments. As these rents continue to escalate along with the number of sites needed to meet the demand for bandwidth, rent roll will continue to be a key issue for wireless CFO’s because they know their networks will not work without the underlying deals that those rent rolls maintain.

I was so encouraged by my conversation with this young technology blogger that when we exchanged business cards, I thought for sure she would contact me to be interviewed for an article on her tech blog about site acquisition. Unfortunately, I never heard from her. I guess my wife is right.


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