Category: Industry Spotlight

California Public Utilities Commission Votes to Extend ROW Regulations to CMRS Installations

By Cynthia Hanson, Land Use and Government Affairs Counsel

On Thursday, January 28th, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) voted unanimously to extend its ROW regulations to CMRS carriers, giving these carriers equal access to public utility infrastructure throughout the state. In making their decision, the CPUC pointed to the growing demand for wireless services and the need to constantly expand and augment wireless infrastructure due to these demands. The CPUC also said that facilitating investment in wireless infrastructure brings significant safety benefits through enhancing emergency communication abilities. The term “CMRS Carrier” was defined by the CPUC as all entities holding a current Wireless Identification Registration with the CPUC or a current Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued by the CPUC that authorizes the certificate holder to provide Commercial Mobile Radio Service.

As part of their final order, the CPUC set the rate and fees that public utilities can charge CMRS carriers for access to their utility infrastructure. CMRS carriers will have to pay the same make ready charges for access to the utility’s infrastructure plus the same annual fees for use of support structures (other than poles) as the CLECs and CATVs pay. Additionally, CMRS carriers will pay the same annual 7.4% (of cost of pole ownership) per pole attachment fee, as the CLECs and CATVs. However, instead of the flat 7.4% fee CLECs and CATVs pay, CMRS carriers will pay 7.4% per vertical foot of space that is dedicated to the CMRS attachment. This dedicated space includes the area needed for mandatory safety clearances. The CPUC noted that a single CMRS installation can occupy up to twelve vertical feet of pole space. Where more than one carrier makes use of the same space on the pole, the carriers will share evenly the costs for that vertical space. Pole attachment fees cannot exceed 100% of the host pole’s cost of ownership.

The CPUC also reviewed new safety regulations proposed by its Safety Enforcement Division (“SED”).   Over the last year, the SED held public workshops and solicited comments before making their recommendations on new safety regulations for CMRS installations. The CPUC adopted some of the proposed regulations such as prohibiting the installation of antennas on guard arms and requiring pole overturning calculations before a pole top antenna can be installed. However, other proposed regulations were rejected by the CPUC. Notably, the CPUC rejected the recommendation that all non-antenna equipment must be pad mounted which opens the way for pole mounting of this equipment.   Additionally, they rejected SED’s proposed rule requiring load calculations for all new CMRS pole attachments. The CPUC pointed out that an existing rule already requires load calculations for a CMRS carrier’s first attachment and for all future attachments that materially increase the load on the pole. Material Increase is defined as an addition which increases the load on a structure by more than five percent per installation or ten percent over a 12 month span.   The CPUC directed the SED to review whether the definition of “material increase” should be revised and to report back to the commission within the next 12 months.

In addition to agreements with pole owners, local zoning approvals and permits will continue to be required for pole attachments. The new CPUC rules governing CMRS installations in the ROW go into effect on May 28, 2016.


Zoning Analysis: Don’t Go into Your Projects Blind

Daniel Shaughnessy
Md7 Land Use

Even with extensive experience and ability in the realms of candidate identification, leasing, RF propagation, and construction management, a client can still go into the wireless infrastructure site acquisition process blind. An understanding of the zoning and permitting process is needed to truly see your project through to completion. The inability to visualize how a particular municipality’s zoning laws will affect your project can lead to excessive costs and delays that can curtail even the best planned projects. However, unlike the other stages in the site acquisition process, zoning is always different for every project, as each municipality across the US has its own unique set of zoning regulations. So, what can a client do to give them the vision they need to see their project through to completion?

Before starting a new wireless infrastructure build, or even a simple mod, clients should obtain a Zoning Analysis in order to clearly understand the required zoning process, permits, timelines and costs that will be associated with their project.

A Zoning Analysis can provide an assessment of the practicality of a proposed project at a specific property or it can compare the likelihood of successful zoning at multiple properties within a search ring. Zoning Analyses are most helpful in the preliminary stages of a project, when a client needs to confirm what type and size of wireless facility is permitted in a specific city or county. Zoning Analyses may also be requested by clients with difficult landlords, who would like to determine the likelihood and costs of relocating the facility to a more favorable location.

Depending upon the client’s needs, Zoning Analyses may contain such information as:

  • A concise and thorough explanation of the costs and timelines associated with the zoning process, from the pre-application meeting to post-build inspections
  • Permitted wireless facility types and heights
  • Required setbacks and fall zones
  • Landscaping and buffer requirements
  • Specific zone and overlay restrictions
  • Site specifics, including:
    • Environmental hazards
    • Historical landmarks
    • Special purpose districts
    • Flood zones
    • FAA notice requirements and development restrictions

Zoning Analyses require combing through the zoning code, analyzing the zoning map, and interpreting how that information applies to the client’s scope of work and the specific property. All of this takes time, and someone unfamiliar with the process might not know what to look for and could end up causing additional delays and costs. For instance, oversight of overlay designations could greatly influence the height or appearance of a new facility in a particular area. You don’t want to wait until after you’ve signed the lease with the property owner to find out that only a 20’ tower is permitted or the cost of the required landscaping at the site is too far outside of the buildout plan’s budget. In addition, a casual researcher might not understand how a setback from residential structures is calculated or how it relates to the permissible height of a new facility within the site.

Expert help from a site acquisition firm with experience in a multitude of jurisdictions across all 50 states will not only ensure that there will be no surprises during the zoning stage of your project, it will also supply you with the tools and information you need to adequately budget and foresee the overall process for your multi-site project.


Is there a doctor in the house…or a smart phone?

By Harry Kapp
Project Supervisor

My friend who lives alone recently had some surgery and spent the weekend with my family after her surgery so as not to be alone. Over the weekend, she experienced some discomfort and, without going into details, decided to call her doctor. It was the weekend and she called the on-call physician who was covering for her surgeon. I started to get ready to take her to the doctor’s office or the hospital but wait! After a bit of discussion about the symptoms, rather than being told to go to the hospital emergency room to be examined, the doctor asked if a picture could be taken and sent to him.  My wife took the picture on her smart phone and sent it to the doctor who only minutes later said not to worry about it but, just to be cautious, he prescribed an antibiotic.   Although he was off for the weekend, her own surgeon called as well (to his enormous credit). The photos were also sent to him. He saw the pictures and confirmed the diagnosis.

When I think of the not so “old” days, the only choice would have been to drive 25 miles to the hospital emergency room and wait to be seen. It would have taken hours of time not to mention an uncomfortable drive for my friend and the stress of not knowing what the doctors would find. And there is the additional stress of a hefty hospital and emergency physician’s bill as well.

There are so many uses for smart phones which have become indispensable but I would not have thought of this one. Of course, I jokingly wonder if medical schools will incorporate the use of smart phones into their curriculum. And I’m afraid the health care industry may soon catch on to this and try to charge thousands of dollars for a smart phone diagnosis or “scan” which, after contractual adjustments and insurance, will be $99.

The bottom line is that smart phones have been and will continue to be used in new and different ways that may be hard to predict. In this instance, the smart doctor’s smart phone came to the rescue!


Wireless Infrastructure is a Great Industry to Work In

By Tom Leddo
Vice President

While attending the 2015 CTIA Super Mobility show in Las Vegas, I was once again reminded how great it is to work in the wireless infrastructure industry. While the CTIA show itself is more oriented toward wireless as a whole and includes a lot of things not related to network infrastructure, the accompanying events like the Tower and Small Cell Summit and the annual Raymond James Breakfast Roundtable are great places to huddle with industry colleagues to listen and learn about the latest developments in the infrastructure segment of wireless.

While the first half of 2015 may have been a bit slow and forced us all to closely manage our cash flow as we wait for the operators to rollout the next phase of their network development, there will be another phase, and another one after that.

While eating breakfast at the Raymond James Roundtable titled Chaos, Convergence and Capacity I was reminded that this really is a great industry.   The following simplifies and summarizes my own spin on their event.

Chaos

Despite the recent volatility in the stock market, the refugee issues in Europe, the turmoil in the Middle East, uncertainty in the Chinese economy and what may be the most realigning election year since 1968, everyone has a phone and everyone continues to pay their phone bill each month. Said another way, the wireless industry does not endure economic cycles in the same way as other industries.

Convergence

Telecom convergence – the combination of voice, data and video on our smart phones make this a very exciting place to work.

Let’s give ourselves some credit here. None of the cool things we now do on our phones will work without a sound network. And that network would not exist without good site acquisition, A&E, design, construction, EFI, and maintenance. We contribute to some cool stuff.

Capacity

If everyone is going to continue to pay their phone bill each month despite turns in the economy and our phones are becoming the ultimate do-it-all device then a lot more capacity will be needed on the networks. That means there will continue to be spending on network development. There will be more upgrades and ongoing maintenance on existing network infrastructure.

This means more work for us all, even if we have to live project-to-project.

Conclusion

While the infrastructure segment of wireless may be beholden to the operator’s deployment schedules, the truth is that network upgrades will continue. As Ric Prentiss noted during the Raymond James session, carriers operate in a “keep-up or fall-behind” marketplace and this will continue to drive capital expenditure despite overarching economic conditions.

As far as we can see, we have lots of ongoing work to do.


The Challenge of Forecasting Site Acquisition (And What To Do About It)

By Tom Leddo
Vice President

Intro

Wireless operators are seeking new ways to navigate through the perfect storm of 100+ percent penetration (market saturation), price competition and the insatiable demand for constant high-speed connectivity. In other words, everyone has a mobile phone and the carriers are in a price war to retain and/or get new customers who have an increasing expectation for the ability to upload unlimited photos and stream unlimited video anytime, and anywhere.

But if carriers are going to be able to supply the bandwidth to meet forecasted demand OTT video, and the many other demands for wireless data, then there will need to be ongoing development of both micro and macro sites throughout the United States.

However, the development and upgrading of traditional macro sites has slowed significantly in the first half of 2015 from the frenetic pace caused by the need to upgrade networks to LTE over the last few years. Also, optimistic forecasts for small cells have yet to be reached primarily because the deployment costs per node do not provide the return on investment required to justify the installations in large volume. Furthermore, most of the major operators paused in 2015 to digest acquisitions, contemplate future financing and restructure their operations to adjust to the new realities in the wireless marketplace.

The latest forecasts indicate that capital expenditure will begin to increase for more cell sites and upgrades over the next few quarters. But it is becoming much more obvious that this rebound in cell cite development of both new and upgraded cell sites must be deployed much faster, more frequently and at lower costs.

Traditionally, site acquisition has been a very inefficient and unpredictable part of the site development process. And because site acquisition is the first part of the process for new and upgraded sites, if a forecast date is missed, the entire construction and installation schedule is thrown out of forecast and out of budget.

The wireless infrastructure industry needs to find ways to streamline site acquisition and make it much more predictable. In other words, new deployment models are needed!

The Challenge

Trying to accurately forecast site acquisition for a new cell site or to upgrade an existing one is almost impossible because the typical functions are completely subject to human behavior and thus highly variable.

This volatility can throw timelines and site deployment cost models into total disarray. Construction Managers and Project Managers need to have equipment and crews scheduled in the right place at the right time and if a lease is not executed or a permit is not obtained, the cost of moving or storing equipment and redeploying a crew can destroy margins.

A number of factors can delay a Notice To Proceed (NTP) such as leasing, zoning, permitting, structural failures, etc.   Often these problems begin to snowball and throw an entire deployment budget out of whack, cost PM’s their jobs and cause heart and other stress related problems – literally.

At the beginning of any project, no one can tell you with a reliable degree of certainty when a given landlord will properly sign and return a lease or lease amendment, how long it will take a municipal employee to review and approve a permit application or zoning request or what the structural pass/fail rate will be on a group of towers – especially now that radios are mounted in the air with the antennas. We no longer operate in the days where a failed structural analysis (SA) just results in a check request. Now a failed SA leads to revisions of the RF Data Sheets to try and meet the load capacity of the existing tower which is much easier said than done and causes further delays. There is more back and forth between site acquisition and RF than I have ever seen in the industry.

One way to eliminate this wasted expense and inefficiency is to forecast more conservatively and thus give a site acquisition team more time to complete their leasing, environmental and regulatory tasks. But let’s deal in reality. Even if a reputable site acquisition vendor develops what they honestly believe to be a sound forecast, there are simply too many unknowns and unforeseeable circumstances beyond their control.

In short, meeting the forecast for NTP’s is difficult at best.

 

Why Site Acquisition is so Hard to Forecast – and What We Should Do About It)

  1. Ready, Aim, Fire!
    Let’s be honest. Deployment projects rarely start on time. Budget approval takes longer than expected, the issuing of PO’s is delayed and RF data sheets are released late and often change. And while the start dates are often delayed, the on-air forecast is rarely extended to accommodate the delays. This throws PM’s into a frenzy of activity and forces them to seek corners to cut and interim milestones to meet so they “appear” to be on time. Late starts are just part of life but when they occur without subsequently pushing out the targeted completion dates along with the pressure to get sites on-air, our industry typically skips the most important, initial step – planning. Most projects develop a scope of work for billing and milestone purposes but lack a detailed step-by-step process flow to get the work completed. By preparing a detailed plan up-front, weeks and even months of inefficiencies can be trimmed off the timeline. At Md7, we begin every project in front of a wipe board where we map out a step-by-step process flow and then turn that into a Visio flow chart. After a few iterations, we end up with ten to fifteen pages of process detail that streamlines the entire project. There are literally hundreds of steps and sub-steps to get from PO to NTP and, if not planned and tracked in that same level of detail, then we fall into reactive mode – which is what typically happens in site acquisition. To successfully complete site acquisition, you must be proactive and well prepared in advance. Typically in our industry, we talk about being proactive, but rarely are we actually proactive. While this takes extra time upfront, the time saved throughout the entire project more than makes up for it.
  2. You can’t control (much less forecast) human behavior
    I have heard it said many times that the post-NTP phase (construction and installation are the most expensive part of a deployment process and also the most predictable, but the pre-NTP, site acquisition phase is much cheaper and far less predictable and can throw the construction and installation phase into a tailspin. No matter how good of a negotiator, you can’t make a landlord sign a doc before they are ready. And if you pressure a smart landlord to sign faster they will actually strategically slow down to apply pressure for rent and other concessions. Similarly, no matter how good of a relationship you have with a municipality, you generally cannot expect a government employee or official to approve your document faster as they typically have their own strict procedures to follow. Personally, I believe that if you submit a well prepared, well organized and error-free zoning request or permit application you will get what you need MUCH faster than if you have a great relationship with the municipal employee behind the counter. Often there are well-intentioned attempts keep the site acquisition process progressing by visiting a landlord or municipality in person with a bag of bagels and waiting for them until they meet with you and grant your request or just buy them a steak dinner or a bottle of scotch. While this sounds like a great idea on a deployment call to get a slow moving site going, it is really just confusing busyness with progress.Keep in mind the old saying “if you want it bad, you get it bad.” If you want it quickly, you get lower quality which in the end might help smooth over a deployment update, but will in the end delay on-air.
  3. The spreadsheet deployment tracker is relic from the 1980’s
    According to Wikipedia, Lotus 1-2-3 was introduced in 1982 and Microsoft introduced Excel in 1985. Since that time the handset has evolved from the car phone, to the bag phone, to the brick phone to the flip phone and now the smartphone. Similarly the mobile networks have evolved from analogue AMPS (now called 1G), to digital 2G to 3G and 4G. But, for some insane reason we still use spreadsheets to track cell site deployments. Really??? We can develop a phone that can open and close our garage doors and turn on/off an HVAC system but we can’t create a decent workflow application to track deployments??? Mike Fraunces, Md7 President, wrote an article last year outlining how spreadsheets fail to deliver quality project details, process workflow and shorter cycle times. He also wrote a second one about how large enterprise software systems are too broad, lack the level of detail needed for a specific project and are not flexible enough to be customized for a specific, unique project, Md7 has developed our own tracking software – LiveTrack™. Designed with the complex needs of site acquisition in mind, LiveTrack brings multidisciplinary information and milestones to a central location, providing end-to-end management oversight to all aspects of the process. And we don’t have to wait for version 2.0 or 3.0 for upgrades. We meet with the customer to fully understand their concerns and needs and design the workflow tracking to meet those concerns and needs for each project, every time. With date and time stamping, quality data management and parallel process flows, LiveTrack shaves weeks off deployment forecasts.
  4. Decreasing pay points without increasing volume
    Simply put, we need to break the cycle of giving a handful of sites to multiple site acquisition vendors, particularly based on price. In his book A Practical Guide to Training and Development, Michael Moskowitz (who also just happens to be the Director of Human Resources for Md7) writes an excellent summary of W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points for Management. Therein, Moskowitz summarizes the fourth of Deming’s 14 points as “ ‘Move toward a single supplier for any one item.’ Multiple suppliers means greater opportunity for variation in source product quality.” In other words, by assigning more sites to a single vendor you can begin to standardize the product and quality. There are only two types of companies that can afford to survive on really low prices. The first is the small operation with limited overhead. The smaller the operation the less the overhead (self-employed people only have to pay themselves) but they also lack the resources to handle large volume. The second are companies who can produce in large volumes. Yes, they have more overhead, but they also can handle large volume and afford to refine and continuously improve processes so that costs decrease simultaneously as quality increases. The second is what we should be looking for in the site acquisition world. When site acquisition is performed in large enough scale, you can afford the resources necessary to develop and implement detailed plans of execution, develop the software to track the hundreds of details that must be managed to get a site on-air, reduce cycle times and lower costs. Another way to achieve economies of scale would be to assign all work on a single site to a single site acquisition vendor. Too many times the site acquisition work for a technology upgrade is assigned to one company, the generator upgrade to another and the lease renewal to third. Let’s get smart and consolidate the work.


Conclusion

  1. If you proactively plan and follow that plan, you can reduce errors and revisions, reduce cycle time and thereby reduce the number of issues that throw off a site acquisition forecast.
  2. If you prepare high quality documents and submit them correctly the first time rather than drafts and partially completed work (just to smooth over a deployment call) you will get a much faster response from landlords and municipal employees than if you sit outside their office hoping to talk them into pushing your work to the head of the queue.
  3. Trashing your spreadsheet and getting some flexible software that can track each deployment will certainly lead to better forecasting and reduced cycle times.
  4. Reduce the number of site acquisition vendors and allow one or a few to focus on quality and consistency, thereby reducing costs.

If you do these four things, you will not be able to forecast every site with 100 percent accuracy, but you will be able to significantly increase your batting average.


Listening to Music (How the Smart Phone Has Impacted our Lives)

By Harry Kapp
Project Supervisor

“I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else” -Lily Tomlin

I love music. Almost any music. Most of my friends stopped listening to current music several decades ago. I marched on and continued listening to new music, e.g., alternative, electronica, and scores of new artists. Admittedly, I still hold on to the past and have yet to give up my LPs which are now much coveted by my son. I also have a rather unhealthy number of CDs as well as packing 28,000 songs into my classic iPod which I never leave home without. My favorites are loaded into my iPhone (I still need to delete the U2 album forced onto my cell phone!) for easy access via headphones/ear buds and Bluetooth without the need to skip unwanted songs.

I started with LPs. Then, the push was on to purchase CDs and then mp3’s, a song at a time or a full album. LPs are back in vogue, but now the push is on to stream music via music streaming services providing access to millions of songs. Two of the best known are Pandora and Spotify. These services seek to assist you with suggested playlists, artists and genres for whatever mood you might be in. Pandora feels obligated to tell me in an email what I listened to last month….in one ear and apparently not out the other! These music services track your music choices analytically in order to determine your musical preferences creating playlists and recommending music.  If you thought you were privately listening to RAP or Polka music, someone out there or something may be watching you.

Apple Music has now entered the scene. Apple Music will also use analytics but will rely on human curators to suggest playlists and artists to its users based on your listening history.   All of these music services allow you to sort by artist, genre and mood also suggesting holiday play lists and seasonal playlists. One thing that Apple Music will do is to allow me to listen to all my old records as well as buy new ones by linking with iTunes. It will also offer Connect to allow artists to be able to interact with their fans. The music streaming services are highly competitive as they fight for market share and I am sure that all of them will eventually offer the same features. Oh, and while these streaming services will cost around $10/month, Apple Music will also offer a free global radio station with live selections by human DJs, old school mixing with new school! And, best of all, all of this is happily sitting in my cell phone literally and figuratively at my fingertips.

This may not bode well for record stores but there are plenty of us that still want to browse through physical albums and CDs. If you are ever in LA, consider a trip to Amoeba Music or my old stomping ground in the Boston area, Newbury Comics. On the way there or while you are in the store, you can narrow your search by listening to your favorite music or sampling an artist on your phone!


How the Smartphone has Impacted Our Lives (Keeping Our Family Safe)

By Tom Leddo
Vice President

The Smart phone has revolutionized home and family safety.   There are hundreds of apps for home monitoring that can be linked with a professionally installed home security system or a self installed video monitoring system (i.e. a Nanny Cam).

Jeff Sayegh, Director of Operations for Md7 in San Diego, is a pretty technically savvy guy who uses both a professional and self-installed version.

“We use the Cox Security and Belkin NetCam app to ensure our loved ones are safe. While I am traveling, I can ensure they are safe at night because I can remotely arm our home from my smartphone, check video of who has entered the house, inform me of any open doors or windows and it is all date & time stamped. When my wife and I both work, we have a babysitter pick up the kids and we occasionally peek in on them at any time using the Belkin NetCam app. Additionally, we have left the garage door open once or twice with no one at home. We placed a camera in the garage just to ensure we have closed it when we are rushing out.”

Another option is wireless locks for home doors that allow you to lock or unlock the door from anywhere you have a wireless signal and provide temporary e-keys to anyone you want to let in your house. This is extremely handy if you have houseguests. You can give them a temporary code that works for the length of their stay without having to worry about handing keys back and forth.

Some versions operate just like the wireless remote on your car to unlock the door automatically as you approach the door with your arms too full to find your keys.

The smartphone and Wi-Fi controlled garage door were recently highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. You can open/close your door remotely, sync with your HVAC to activate cooling or heating systems as you come home and receive updates each time the door opens/closes if you are tracking teenagers.

Probably the most common apps for keeping our families safe are tracking apps. Whether you want to find your lost phone, keep an eye on your teenage kids or spy on your spouse, there is an app for you. A husband and wife who are friends of mine have a healthy use of the spouse-tracking app when he commutes to and from work on his bike. She worries when he is riding in traffic and wants to know that he is safe and when he will be home. Since it is not easy, and dangerous, to answer the phone or text while riding in traffic, she simply tracks his phone using Find my Friends on their iPhones.

These are all good examples how the smartphone is impacting our daily lives in unbelievable new ways.


Los Angeles Leads the Nation by Approving Hardening Requirements for Cell Towers

by: Sean Maddox, Land Use, and Lynn Whitcher, Associate General Counsel

Lynn: I remember being woken up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning, January 17, 1994. Having been an Angelino for decades, I was used to earthquakes, but not like this. This was DIFFERENT. I was in a suburb of Los Angeles called Rolling Hills, located about 40 miles from the epicenter in Reseda. The rolling went on for 5 seconds, then 10, then 20 . . . In disbelief, I realized at some point that I was going to actually have to get out of bed for this one. It probably didn’t help that I was on a waterbed (hey, it was the 90’s – don’t judge). When it was over, no one called me. Not my mom, not my family or friends (it was 4:30 a.m.!). I didn’t get any messages on Facebook or Twitter. I didn’t check the news over the internet. I went back to sleep. It’s funny to think back on that now. If (when) we have the next big earthquake, my mobile would be blowing up (assuming there’s enough capacity). The Northridge Earthquake stripped away some of the city’s complacency regarding earthquakes. When I see the devastation caused by earthquakes in other parts of the world, it somehow feels more personal now. It could – it will – happen again in my lifetime.

Sean: Although growing up in Southern California has given me the experience of feeling quite a few earthquakes, the Northridge earthquake is still the first and only one I vividly remember, even more than 20 years later. My family was located some 60 miles away- far enough from serious danger, but close enough for a serious wakeup call the morning it shook. It was all we could talk about at school, as we waited in nervous anticipation of aftershocks or what else may come. When the aftershocks continued all day, including into that evening, my friends and I were certain Armageddon was upon us. While it turned out that the world would go on, the uncertainty of that day stays with me. I can only imagine the feeling of helplessness that would accompany a major earthquake if cell phone service went down today.

The California Department of Conservation reports that there are hundreds of earthquake faults in California. Approximately 200 are considered potentially hazardous. More than 70 percent of the state’s population resides within 30 miles of a fault where high ground shaking could occur in the next 50 years.

It’s no surprise, then, that Los Angeles, California, would become the first city in the country to approve seismic standards for new cell phone towers. The City will require free-standing tower new‑build facilities to be built to the same seismic standards that apply to public safety facilities. The hardening requirement of a 1.5 Importance Factor is anticipated to increase construction costs 10% to 20%. The requirements would not apply to rooftop sites or to any existing sites.

The industry should embrace this forward thinking change. While cell towers are designed to prevent collapse, they are not currently designed to ensure the towers continue to function in the event of an earthquake. We need to be prepared to serve the public in the event the inevitable “Big One” arrives and people are in their most critical hours of need. Internet and wireless communications have become too integral a part of our society and economy. In the event of any natural disaster, cell phone usage can be expected to spike as frantic calls to loved ones are placed and emergencies are reported. Internet usage will spike too as people research information and resources. Connectivity issues could create delays in emergency response times and disaster recovery efforts. Debris, downed bridges and other hazards resulting from an earthquake could make it difficult for repair crews to repair inoperative towers.

This is a bold, but necessary step. Let’s hope the back-up batteries and generators last too…


How the Smartphone has Impacted Our Lives (I No Longer Memorize Important Phone Numbers)

by Tom Leddo
Vice President

Do you still memorize important phone numbers?

Personally I know my cell phone number, my wife’s, and maybe one or two others. Oh yeah, I still know the number to the rotary phone mounted on the kitchen wall of my childhood home because I was taught to sing it in kindergarten in case I ever got lost. Speaking of which, my mom had a really, really, long cord on that phone so it could stretch out of the kitchen to the couch in the adjoining room where we had a TV with only three channels.

I would venture to guess that today most people don’t memorize many more phone numbers than I have. Why should we? We have various forms of one-touch dialing and even voice dialing to eliminate the need.

But, at the risk of sounding like Lemony Snicket, what would happen if there were an emergency or you lost your phone? Well, according to Connie Rim, a Lease Consultant at Md7 in San Diego, you might have a problem. As she tells it…

Years ago I moved to Las Vegas to live with some friends. Upon immediate arrival, I decided to venture solo to the Las Vegas strip. As I returned to my car, I realized I lost my iPhone. I panicked as I suddenly found myself without knowing my friends’ phone numbers, directions, or my new address. All the information I needed was in my Smartphone. After several hours of backtracking (and very sore feet), I was very lucky that someone had turned in my iPhone to one of the casino’s security offices.  Needless to say, I avoid being in such a vulnerable position by simply memorizing a few important phone numbers – and, of course, my address.

iCloud wasn’t around then, but if it happens to Connie today, she can simply log into her account from any computer in the world and pull up her key info. Tip: Make sure you know how to access your backup data before you need it.

In emergency situations, finding a place to access your iCloud account is not always easy or timely. Like the time my wife locked her keys, phone and our newborn son in the car at the park. She borrowed the phone of a jogger who was passing by and began dialing me the old fashion way. The only problem was that I didn’t recognize the jogger’s number in my caller-ID so I ignored it until she dialed it four or five times over and over.

Well… even if we fail to memorize a few key numbers, our modern problems are still better than only having a single phone for a family with five kids that was affixed to a wall.


How Has the Smartphone Changed Your Life? (My Ten Favorite Apps)

by Tom Leddo
Vice President

Did you see the “Connection Lost” episode of Modern Family that aired February 25, on ABC? The episode starts after Claire drops her iPhone in the toilet and is forced to use her laptop at O’Hare airport to sync-up with her entire family to address a family emergency. The entire episode takes place wirelessly on Apple products.

If you missed it, be sure to stream it on Hulu or on iTunes.

While making me laugh pretty hard, “Connection Lost” made me realize just how much our lives have changed in the eight short years since the iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs in 2007.  We used to hold the phone up to our ear with one hand and care about voice quality. Now we hold our phone with two hands while looking down and typing and care about speed/bandwidth.

Personally speaking, the apps on my smartphone have significantly changed my daily habits. The following are my personal top ten in no particular order.

  1. News apps have completely replaced print version of a newspaper. My favorite is the Wall Street Journal, particularly the editorial page.
  2. Google Maps has usurped the built-in GPS in my car. It is much better at helping me find an address, points of interest, places to eat and is easier to use.
  3. Facebook and Twitter have made posting Food Porn (not what you are thinking) a fun part of my business travel. When on business travel, you often eat alone. Posting photos of my meals and commenting on my favorite Bar-B-Que joints helps pass the time and usually strikes a few chords with people I don’t often speak with otherwise. Oh yeah, and speaking of eating out, Hello Vino helps a wine novice like me select the right wine with the meal in my photos.
  4. Lose It!, a calorie counting app has tipped the long-term battle with my weight in my favor.
  5. Digifit combined with a heart monitor has significantly improved my overall health.
  6. Evernote has finally given me a decent way to organize countless notes, including a few hundred of my favorite recipes.
  7. Uber!
  8. USAA has made mobile banking effortless.
  9. Games – I hate to admit it but yes, I have Candy Crush and Flow Free on my phone.
  10. Pandora and Spotify have personalized my music and iHeart Radio has kept me in touch with the local college sports talk shows back in Alabama.

Plus one more – as my colleague, Harry Kapp, reminded me, no list of top apps would be complete if it didn’t also include Happy Hour Finder. As Harry said, “nothing more is needed.”


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