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April 2021

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In This Issue

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From The Editor

The Tower Business: All Grown Up

Maybe the wireless infrastructure industry has been subject to intense technological devel...
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Backhaul Transport

Edge Content and Applications: QoS Is the Real Digital Divide

Rising network traffic, driven mainly by two-way video collaboration and streaming service...
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Drones UAV

Protecting Against Drone Threats Through Smart Airspace Security

The commercial and consumer drone market is exploding, with new applications for use emerg...
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5G

New Spectrum Strategy Reveals DoD’s Plan to Master Airwaves

Short of face-to-face conversation, wired internet or telephone land lines — a mystery to ...
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Antennas

How 4G and 5G Wireless Communications Antennas Really Work

Picture yourself in an open space — a meadow, if you will — on a quiet, sunny day. In fron...
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Women in Wireless

For Cathy Borten, It’s a Wonderful Life in the Wireless Industry

Cathy Borten comes from a family with a deep connection to the law profession. That backgr...
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5G

New Era, New Approach to the Challenges of 5G Deployment

If there’s one thing about growth — it has a way of demanding that we adapt. The sa...
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Diversity in Wireless

Lynn Whitcher and Leticia Latino kick off AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Some people set their sights on the tower industry at a young age, but in the case of Leti...
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Drones UAV

Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Final Rul...
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Business

Inside Crown Castle International’s Business

At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference conducted on March 4, Dan S...
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Drones

Dual-sensor Drone Technology Digitalizes Wireless Infrastructure

OpenTower iQ, a digital twin solution supported by iTwin for telecommunications towers, pr...
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5G

Samsung Demonstrates 5G Standalone Core Performance with Intel

According to information from Samsung Electronics, the company has achieved a significant ...
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From The Editor

The Tower Business: All Grown Up

Maybe the wireless infrastructure industry has been subject to intense technological development since the beginning. However, it did not seem so much that way at the outset. It seemed more as though with telecommunications towers, owners of the towers took some delight in having low-tech assets that require little maintenance, maybe as little as a few thousand dollars a year. It was up to their customers, the mobile network operators, also called wireless carriers, to take care of the electronic equipment placed at the tower base and the antennas installed at elevation on the tower.

Vertical real estate was the phrase applied to the business of owning towers. No calls from renters about leaky plumbing or broken appliances would happen with towers as would happen with residential rental real estate. Maybe a call to fix a malfunctioning aviation obstruction marking light fixture or a broken fence or gate lock. By avoiding ownership of what are called active components, meaning electronics, tower owners could operate their businesses with comparatively small staffs that focused on leasing, construction, legal, regulatory and accounting activities.

Many towers owners have found they cannot adequately serve wireless carriers without adding decidedly high-tech products and services to what they offer. Examples include mini or micro data centers placed at cell sites to provide baseband processing for signals coming from wireless receiving equipment at the tower. The reason is to reduce latency, which is a delay between the instant a wireless signal arrives at the tower and the delivery of the data that signal contains to its destination.

Another example includes fiber-optic cable routes and the necessary operational equipment. Some tower owners offer the fiber connectivity to save their wireless carrier customers the trouble of either installing or sourcing their own.

Taken together, the tower sites — and for the purpose of this discussion, that includes small cells — the tower sites, the mini data centers and the fiber-optic cable routes have been called a convergence that has grown in importance to the point where some say tower companies without the combination of the three to offer wireless carriers will not be able to win as much business as those that do. The situation tends to work in favor of large companies, said to have scale, with money to spend, sometimes referred to as having a balance sheet, in comparison with smaller tower companies that may not have the resources to expand in that way.

Name some names? The big four: American Tower, Crown Castle International, SBA Communications and Vertical Bridge. Each has formed up the triple combination in one way or another, whether by owning the capabilities outright or by investing in companies that offer what they need. Crown Castle is notable for its early spending on small cell and fiber-optic route construction. The company says it has more than 100 collocation facilities with connectivity to more than 900 data centers, points of presence and central offices. Vertical Bridge is part of a family of companies wholly or partially owned that brings together macro towers, small cells, data centers, edge compute facilities and fiber.

A smaller company because of its geographic focus on New York City and an adjacent area of New Jersey, ZenFi Networks, places its own small cells, fiber and micro data centers to bring a competitive offering despite its size. Plus, it is looking into providing the remote radio heads in what now seems like a bold step, but what may become commonplace if network sharing catches on among U.S. wireless carriers, the way it has in Europe.

It’s the tower business, all grown up.

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Backhaul Transport

Edge Content and Applications: QoS Is the Real Digital Divide

As 5G wireless networks are brought online, data volumes, power cost, backhaul and site acquisition for cell deployment will determine performance and quality of service.

Rising network traffic, driven mainly by two-way video collaboration and streaming services, is straining quality of service (QoS) standards across the nation. Make no mistake: These issues have been growing steadily for years, whether we have chosen to focus on them or not. Even in the time of 5G,it is time to challenge traditional thinking about ways to increase performance and unlock the capabilities of applications and content. Today’s efforts to close the digital divide and push the edge closer to end users is, in important ways, having the opposite effect.

Outmoded Thinking

What the industry is seeing has certainly shined a bright light on nationwide network performance. According to TrustRadius, Zoom alone saw daily active users grow 2,900 percent, from 10 million per day to 300 million per day in just four months. And according to Cisco, 82 percent of all internet traffic will be consuming videos by 2022. As 5G wireless networks are brought online, data volumes, power cost, backhaul and site acquisition for cell deployment will determine performance and QoS for those devices. The FCC definition of broadband has remained at 25 Mbps upload and 3 Mbps download since 2015. In the abstract, that should be sufficient to meet most video collaboration minimums, advertised at 1.2 to 1.5 Mbps, up or down. This standard was put into place long before we saw the appetite for high-definition (HD) video streaming and the value creation that comes with two-way video communications. 25/3 will barely get you ultra-HD quality on Netflix, let alone with the potential for multiple people working and learning online from a typical household.

Put another way, HighSpeedInternet.com recommends at least 10/1 Mbps per person. With the average American household at 2.53 people, 25/3 is table stakes for broadband and mobile broadband performance will continue to lag until spectrum and networks move toward the edge.

Yes, we are adding 5G deployments and data center capacity, but the majority is still going into Tier 1 markets. CBRE’s 2021 market outlook reports that the largest market in northern Virginia, at nearly 1.3 gigawatts, is also one of the busiest development markets with another 239 megawatts in process. That tells me we still rely heavily on transport and backhaul to connect the digitally disenfranchised across the nation, be it fiber or wireless.

It is time to evolve our thinking toward outcomes for end users. Relying on multihop, latency-ridden transit back to major internet markets remains unpredictable and slow. If we shift to a QoS model, I believe we will see a change in our decision-making that will benefit all without breaking budgets.

To Improve Quality, Expand the Edge

There are positive signs on the horizon that will help. The IDC MarketScape reports by 2024, applications at the edge will increase 800 percent to deliver quality of service, reduce latency, support growing dynamic workloads, communications, collaboration and IoT. They also note that by 2023, edge networks will comprise 60 percent of the $652 billion in deployed cloud infrastructures.

The challenge that remains to be seen is will this level of investment be sufficient to address QoS issues? And will remaining LTE and emerging 5G networks connect to, and take advantage of, expanded content applications at the edge?

We believe that carrier-neutral edge interconnection facilities fortified with local peering are the critical missing piece to address this issue. By bringing together local networks through neutral aggregation points, combined with local applications and content enabled through peering platforms, the end user can attain QoS levels both reliably and affordably.

Edge interconnection facilities can be designed and deployed flexibly, making use of the connectivity and locations that will deliver optimal quality while constraining construction costs. Cost-sharing arrangements allow pricing to remain affordable while this simple shift in the local ecosystem economics delivers Tier 1 performance, security and reliability. Carrier-neutral exchanges and peering offer QoS opportunities for all operators.

This is precisely why we have developed carrier-neutral edge collocation data centers to solve these challenges in real time. We enable network operators, cloud and content providers and content delivery networks to store, process and execute data at the edge. We minimize travel time to provide exceptional user experiences. In the process, we support thriving partner ecosystems that cultivate interconnection and empower network expansion. As a result, edge interconnection facilities transform the way data traffic is managed, processed, and fulfilled within local markets.

Growth at the edge offers tremendous opportunity for end users and providers alike. Shifting our collective mindset toward opportunities that dramatically improve QoS will close the real divide that continues to grow around the user experience. Carrier-neutral partner ecosystems provide a secure and reliable means toward scalable and collective growth at the edge.

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

Scott Willis is president and CEO of DartPoints. Visit www.dartpoints.com.

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Drones UAV

Protecting Against Drone Threats Through Smart Airspace Security

A smart airspace security program begins with diagnostics and scales from there to develop a smart security system that directly addresses an individual site’s needs.

The commercial and consumer drone market is exploding, with new applications for use emerging, solving problems and engaging new users. Drones are delivering medical supplies and packages, finding lost hikers, capturing fugitives, surveying land for vulnerable crops, inspecting pipelines for weaknesses, delighting audiences by dancing in the sky, and bringing new heights to visual storytelling. Additionally, regulators around the world are advancing laws to enable and even promote innovation with drone applications. As more drones come to market, different organizations, both public and private, are struggling to capture how many drones are entering our airspace, who is flying them, where they are flying and what is their intention. So how does a security professional secure their airspace against this emerging and increasing drone threat?

Drone in air in a sight.

Today, security providers protecting airspace from drone threats are learning, through drone incursions, the financial and security effects of an unauthorized drone entering their airspace. The forward-thinking security teams have begun to take a proactive approach to understand how many drones are in their airspace and how to prevent harm from an unwanted drone to people, property and information. The only drone that matters is the one that a security team does not want in its airspace.

Extending Security to the Airspace

Although many drone operators heed laws and regulations, there always remain those who will exploit the technology for malicious purposes, using the technology to exploit a vulnerability and using their eyes in the sky to accomplish covert or illegal activities, including espionage, data hacking, harassment and contraband delivery. Equally, some drone pilots may simply be “clueless or careless” and fly without knowledge or skill, risking collision or intrusion into sensitive airspace. The acceleration of improper drone use has especially affected the following industries:

  • Critical Infrastructure: Energy facilities, power plants, stadiums, data centers and transportation systems must meet extremely high security standards. These structures are vital to the functioning of their local economy, and maintaining safety is paramount; however, drones can easily cross any critical infrastructure perimeter and threaten the safety of workers and site operations.
  • Airports: Around the world, airports are bracing for the integration of drones in local airspace. As the world navigates the impacts of COVID-19 on airport operations and passenger travel, the threat of drones is growing.
  • Corrections: Drone-based contraband delivery has been an escalating threat as more drones become available and more criminals look to find ways to circumvent traditional security measures at correctional facilities to deliver high-value goods to inmates.
  • Defense and Homeland Security: Key to the success of integrating drones into our airspace is collaboration among regulators, technology providers and the public that matches the speed of innovation while also addressing and preparing for the emerging security gaps that drones pose to our world’s most sensitive military and defense operations.

Drones are here to stay and both productive and dangerous applications are rapidly increasing. Looking forward, the numbers of drones flying in the air will only grow, and with it, increased airspace security risks and violations.

Smart airspace security starts with detection and creating situational awareness of all drone activity — whether from cooperative, legal and authorized drone pilots or from pilots who are either unaware of or maliciously circumvent drone flight laws.

Person monitoring drones on monitors.

Build a Smart Airspace Security Program in Two Steps

Before developing an airspace security program, it is first necessary to establish the critical issues and terminology behind airspace security, understand the type of information airspace security technology provides, and define what actions can be taken against a drone threat.

Step 1: Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment. Aviation regulators capture data on the number of drone registrations in a country, showing they are increasing in number exponentially. However, this data does not account for when, where and how often drones fly, nor the activity of unregistered drones. In the United States and in many other countries, rules on the Remote Identification of drones will soon be launched — but this information only will cover those who follow laws and regulations. In order to have a complete picture of your airspace activity, security providers must implement a two-phased approach to diagnose and scale their drone activity and threat mitigation program, which specifically addresses the drone threats to their individual site.

First, security teams need to conduct a vulnerability assessment. This review process requires a low-cost, radio-frequency based detection technology that identifies drones as far away as 5 km in any direction. This sensor comes with its own built-in cloud connectivity to make installation easy. A typical data collection and airspace assessment lasts four to eight weeks to allow the sensors to establish patterns in airspace activity. The system alerts whenever a drone enters the protected space, and automated reporting allows users to access historical data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Reporting tools identify concerning patterns, such as an unusually high amount of detections, the same drone reoccurring, specific times of day seeing more activity than others, and security managers can build a picture to understand the threat.

Example of an Airspace Security ReportAirspace Security Report Example Dedrone

Security providers can acquire and build their drone detection programs through an Airspace Security as a Service (ASaaS) acquisition model during this initial data collection phase. The first step to build a smart airspace security program is to confirm there is a drone threat — and from there, security teams can use data to determine the second phase of their program, which is to strategically scale their drone detection program, or whether it might not be the right time to create a comprehensive airspace security program.

Step 2: Implement Data Driven Airspace Security Policies and Technology. Following the initial data collection phase, security teams can make informed, evidence-backed decisions on how to address their airspace risks. For sites that identify unauthorized drone activity, the next step would be to act against unwanted pilots and flights by layering additional sensors to provide greater situational awareness.

With additional sensors, security teams can establish flight paths and collect visual evidence of a drone, and then use this information to track down pilots and provide this evidence to law enforcement for further investigation. With these sensors, it is possible to locate and apprehend pilots before they enter restricted airspace, and when coordinating with law enforcement, allow them to approach or cite unlawful pilots. Equally, security teams can make informed decisions on amending security protocols to address drone incursions, including security detail locations, shift change times and signage.

Protect Your Airspace Today with Drone Detection Technology

Airspace security technology is an emerging security market and is becoming a prominent issue as new regulations and drone incidents occur.

The rise of drones on the market will only open the door for more incidents to occur. What was once a technology only accessible by the military can now be in the hands of any consumer, whether for good or bad. Although laws and regulations can be created, pilots with malicious intent can easily circumvent them.

The challenge of unwanted drones at protected sites is complex and unique and will continually evolve as more drones come to market and as drone regulations and laws advance. Now, with airspace security technology, an aerial equivalent of a fence exists, and security providers can take proactive steps to protect their people, property and information before an incident occurs. The first step to create a smart airspace security program is to begin with diagnostics — and from there, scale and develop a smart security system that directly addresses an individual site’s needs.

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or subscribe to "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

Amit Samani is the vice president of UK and Americas at airspace security technology provider Dedrone. His email address is [email protected]. Marc Bouvrette is president of Gap Wireless. Gap Wireless offers a suite of hardware and value-added services for the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, or drone) defense market, including government, military and aviation customers. Email Gap Wireless at [email protected].

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5G

New Spectrum Strategy Reveals DoD’s Plan to Master Airwaves

Whether stateside, in international waters or in foreign countries, the U.S. Department of Defense finds itself in competition in the electromagnetic spectrum with adversaries, industries and communities.

Short of face-to-face conversation, wired internet or telephone land lines — a mystery to many young Americans — nearly every form of communication the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) uses today, especially on the battlefield, is wireless. Some U.S. adversaries are working hard to cut off that form of communication.

The Defense Department has released the “2020 Department of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy.“ This document not only lays out how the military will guarantee its continued and unfettered access to the airwaves, or spectrum, which facilitates GPS, radio, satellite and cell phone communications, it also shows how the military plans to master that spectrum while on the battlefield.

“The rise of mobile systems and digital technology across the globe has placed enormous strain on the available spectrum for DoD’s command, control and communication needs,” said Dana Deasy, the department’s chief information officer. “This strategy will help set the conditions needed to ensure our warfighters have freedom of action within the electromagnetic spectrum to successfully conduct operations and training in congested, contested and constrained multi-domain environments across the globe.”

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of radiation frequencies used to transmit information wirelessly. Although frequencies above 300 GHz make up infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light and x-rays, frequencies at 300 GHz and below are used to transmit information for cell phones, television, radio, satellite communications, GPS, hand-held two-way radios and even key fobs that lock and unlock cars.

Those who want to transmit information over those communication frequencies typically apply to the federal government for a license. This ensures that only one entity is attempting to use a frequency at a time.

There are hundreds of locations on the electromagnetic spectrum blocked out by the U.S. federal government — and by governments globally — for specific applications by specific users in every part of the world.

The Defense Department is, perhaps, the biggest user of spectrum in the United States, according to Frederick D. Moorefield, the deputy chief information officer for command, control and communications.

“DoD uses spectrum for almost everything wireless, everything from tactical radios that the soldier uses in the field, or in operations, to satellite communications, to radar that we use to track objects and devices,” Moorefield said. “We use it for everything wireless.”

For a long time, Moorefield said, DoD was uncontested in its use of the spectrum. That means either stateside or abroad, wherever the U.S. military went, it was able to use whatever portion of the spectrum it wanted to facilitate its own communications. Other nations weren’t technologically capable of using spectrum. But that is no longer the case.

Now, due to the low-cost of entry into spectrum use and ubiquity of wireless communications equipment, any adversary, not just peer and near-peer competitors, has as much access to the spectrum as the Defense Department. That means that in any conflict, any adversary may be using spectrum crucial to the department and preventing the military from being able to use it. Adversaries may also use jamming techniques to actively block DoD from using portions of the spectrum.

“Technologies evolved, and our peer competitors have improved and watched us over the years and have gotten smart,” Moorefield said. “We’re getting jammed on everything from GPS to our unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). That’s why we have our counter-UAS program out there. Everything’s getting interfered with. That is a contested environment. Everything’s getting jammed.”

It’s not just on the battlefield where the United States can be jammed either, Moorefield said. Jamming is happening while doing training overseas and in other places as well.

“Just during our training and exercises, we’re getting jammed,” he said. “Stuff is going on — GPS is getting denied and jammed all the time in different countries. Our UASs are getting jammed and spoofed.” Even stateside, Moorefield said, the department finds itself in competition in the electromagnetic spectrum with industries and communities around military bases.

“It is getting more and more crowded,” he said. “At some of our bases we used to be able to go out and do training and testing and exercises — just go out and do whatever we wanted to do. But now, the surrounding neighborhoods and the surrounding communities are just getting more and more crowded using wireless. So that access that we used to use, and freedom that we used to have using the spectrum on those bases, is diminishing as the communities are growing.”

The department’s electromagnetic spectrum superiority strategy is driven by three “C’s,” Moorefield said: a contested environment, spectrum congestion and spectrum constraint.

A contested environment, he said, means adversaries have gotten smarter in how they jam the spectrum. Even if an adversary isn’t using a portion of the spectrum, he said, they can prevent the U.S. from using it through jamming.

“We have to figure out how to be smarter than them and develop capabilities to allow us to be able to get access to the spectrum whenever we need it, and however we need it and to also be able to deny the enemy the same access,” Moorefield said. “We call that ‘freedom of maneuver’ within the electromagnetic spectrum.”

The congested environment, he said, means there’s simply more people wanting to use spectrum. That might mean stateside or abroad, in actual warfare or in training, the department will find that there’s just a lot more users now of the electromagnetic spectrum than there have been.

“The spectrum space is getting more and more crowded,” Moorefield said. “That includes 5G, the next G coming, SATCOM, tactical radios, commercial and federal — everybody’s using spectrum more and more. So, we have a congestion problem, everything is crowded.”

Finally, he said, there is constraint. Whereas the department in the past had more freedom to move about the spectrum when it needed to, domestic and international regulations have decreased the amount of spectrum available for military access.

“We don’t have that big access and use that we used to have. DoD used to use a spectrum any way they wanted to. Those days are over,” he said. “That constraint is limiting us in our ability to train as we fight.”

To ensure that in the future the U.S. military has the ability to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum, the department has developed the “2020 Department of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy.”

“Superiority means being able to access the spectrum, use any frequency you want to, be able to maneuver ... and deny the enemy access to the spectrum at the same time,” said Moorefield.

The strategy includes five goals to help the department attain that superiority:

  1. Develop superior EMS capabilities.
  2. Evolve to an agile, fully integrated EMS architecture.
  3. Pursue total force EMS readiness.
  4. Secure enduring partnerships for EMS advantage.
  5. Establish effective EMS governance.

For the U.S. military to attain that superiority, there will need to be modernization and reform, new policies put in place, and new gear — all of that is spelled out in the strategy.

“The department’s evolution in the EMS is necessary for the U.S. military’s ability to effectively sense, command, control, communicate, test, train, protect and project force,” said Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. “Modernizing to maintain competitive advantage over near-peer adversaries will enable DoD to assert EMS superiority and mitigate risks to U.S. national and economic security.”

One part of reform, said Moorefield, is a change in the way spectrum is managed today.

“Today, spectrum is managed by static frequency assignments and licenses,” he said. “We have to get dynamic, flexible and cognitive to be dynamic enough to be able to move around at different frequency bands.”

Also involved, and part of the strategy, is development of spectrum-sharing capability. That means acknowledging that there are other users of a segment of spectrum the DoD wants access to, that there are benefits to U.S. commerce if the private sector or even other federal agencies have access to that spectrum, and then developing a system whereby more than one entity can take turns using that part of the spectrum when needed. That’s not happened in the past, but it’s happening now, Moorefield said.

EMS superiority will also involve new kinds of technology that are able to determine on their own what frequency they ought to be on at any time, Moorefield said. That technology will be able to assess the environment to see what else is using spectrum, and what part of it, and then find the best available portion of the spectrum to use to accomplish the communications it needs to accomplish — all without the assistance of users.

“We’re trying to get to autonomous kinds of operations, meaning machine-to-machine,” he said. “You’ve got the machines talking to each other. You won’t have to have segregated allocations. You’ll have the machine built to be able to tune across a variety of different frequency bands. It’ll listen within the environment. And it’ll be talking to another machine and say I’m using this frequency; you move to another frequency.”

Policy changes are needed, as well. The department’s acquisition elements must be allowed to obtain the right kind of equipment to attain spectrum superiority, he said.

“We have to be able to reform acquisition [policies] so that they know that they can build capability to do that — to be able to be dynamic,” he said. “Today we can’t do that. The regulations don’t support it. We have to reform the regulations to allow dynamic spectrum operations. We have to inform acquisition so they can now acquire those kinds of capabilities. We need to inform research and engineering so they can do the research and development, so that acquisition can purchase it.”

They’re out there doing jamming, electronic attack and the protect mission without any regard to the other communication equipment in the battlefield. — Frederick D. Moorefield

There’s a lot of equipment in the department’s inventory today that was designed to operate in the EMS. But that equipment was built to operate in clearly-defined areas of the spectrum. Eventually, all that gear will need to be replaced with new gear that can operate more freely in the spectrum, and share spectrum with other pieces of gear. It will take several years to make the transition, Moorefield said. But along the way, new gear will be cognizant of the older equipment on the battlefield and will be able to work alongside it.

“We’ve got old stuff out there, we’ve got medium stuff and we’ve got new stuff,” he said. “As you do your tech refresh and you implement the policies into the acquisition reform to be able to build dynamic spectrum stuff, that new capability will be able to cohabitate around the old stuff because it now has that dynamic flexible operation. So it’s not sitting on a single frequency. I don’t care what your old stuff is doing, I’m going to operate around you. And when that old thing expires, then they’re going to tech refresh and become dynamic. Over time, we’ll get there. But it’s going to take us time to do that.”

Another big part of the superiority strategy is the blending of the electromagnetic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum management communities into one “electromagnetic spectrum operations” or EMSO community, Moorefield said.

“In the past, the electronic warfare community kind of did their own thing,” he said. “They’re out there doing jamming, electronic attack and the protect mission without any regard to the other communication equipment in the battlefield.”

The result of that, he said, sometimes created spectrum “fratricide” on the battlefield, where blue force use of the spectrum to damage enemy forces also hurt other blue force operators.

“The guys on the ground were getting blasted — they couldn’t even talk on their radios anymore because you got a big platform flying through and he’s just blasting out, jamming the entire battlefield,” Moorefield said.

Signal Jamming

The merging of the existing electronic warfare and EMSM communities into an EMSO community, he said, can fix this.

“This now blends this all together and forces us as a department to be able to orchestrate this battlefield,” he said. “Now you have EW, you got all your other comms — whether it’s tactical radios, radars, EW, all being orchestrated in the environment. Our goal is to develop a common operating spectrum picture so that the commander can see what those operations look like and he can command and control those operations, based on that spectrum picture.”

The strategy doesn’t lay out a timeline for how the Defense Department will get mastery of the EMS. Instead, Moorefield said, the strategy sets a “broad vision of where we go and how we get there.”

What’s clearer, he said, is the consequences of not achieving spectrum superiority. “If we don’t figure out how to dominate the spectrum space we’re going to be at the mercy of our peer competitors,” he said.

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the 2020 Department of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy is what the Defense Department needs to ensure U.S. warfighters continue to have freedom of action wherever they are asked to fight.

“The department is dedicated to a unified, holistic electromagnetic spectrum operations approach which ensures our freedom of action in the EMS at the time and place of our choosing,” Hyten said. “We cannot expect military success in any domain if we fail to take bold action to ensure that the United States and its allies have freedom to act in the spectrum. Implementing the EMS Superiority Strategy enables us to take that bold action so we are able to dominate the spectrum in all domains and, if challenged, win against our enemies.”

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

C. Todd Lopez is a writer at the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Antennas

How 4G and 5G Wireless Communications Antennas Really Work

If antennas were made of opera singers, it would be much easier to understand how they do what they do.

Picture yourself in an open space — a meadow, if you will — on a quiet, sunny day. In front of you, 100 feet away, is a full opera. The cast is singing the Canadian national anthem. The singing is crisp and clear, just as it should be, dead center in front of opera singers.

Then, you start moving to the right. You are following the path of a semicircle, centered at the platform where opera singers are standing, with a radius of 100 feet. As you move along the semi-circle, the singing seems quieter. This is normal — you are moving away from the center, and the sound does not reflect from a nearby wall or ceiling in an open space.

When you reach the end of the semicircle, in line with the opera singers but still 100 feet away, the sound seems quiet. This is how a 4G antenna radiates on the horizontal plane. Most of the RF signal is delivered dead center in front of an antenna panel, then gradually becomes lower until it reaches its lowest point when you are lined up with the antenna.

Flying High with 4G

Now, picture yourself and the cast levitating 100 feet above the ground. You can still move, but this time only above and below the singers. You are still moving around a semicircle with a radius of 100 feet, but the semicircle is now vertical. Again, you hear the Canadian anthem loud and clear when in front of the singers, but as you move above them, the sound will gradually become quieter. Finally, when you are levitating 100 feet above the singers, you will not be able to hear much at all. This is how a 4G antenna radiates on the vertical plane. Again, most of the signal radiation is dead center in front of the antenna panel, then it gradually loses intensity as you move away, above or below the antenna.

Getting Louder with 5G

Now, pretend each singer a bullhorn. The sound becomes much louder. Imagine you are still moving around in a horizontal or vertical semicircle around the cast. This time, the singers are pointing their bullhorns in your direction as you move. Because the sound is following you, it stays as loud as it was when you were dead center in front of the cast, no matter where you are.

This is how 5G antennas work. The bullhorn is 5G beamforming, and opera singers moving their heads is dynamic beamforming that tracks the user as they move away from the center of a 5G antenna panel.

How 5G Can Serve Multiple Users

This explains how 5G wireless communications works with a single user exchanging data with the base station. The singers are a 5G base station; the listener is user equipment (UE) and the Canadian national anthem is the data exchanged between the radio base station and the UE.

What happens with more than one UE? Assume there are two listeners, both located on the horizontal semicircle. One is a bit to the left, and the other is a bit to the right of the singers. Both remain 100 feet away. The one to the left wants to hear the Canadian national anthem, and the one to the right wants to hear the American national anthem. This can be accomplished in three different ways:

All singers, still carrying bullhorns, turn to the left and sing the first verse of the Canadian anthem toward the first listener. Then, when they finish the first verse, the singers turn to the other listener and sing the first verse of the American national anthem. The listeners record their respective anthems on their smartphones while the opera sings in their direction and hit the pause button when they want to stop listening.

The total duration of the performance is double the time it takes to listen to each anthem. Increasing the number of listeners from one to two slowed the exchange of information. This is how 5G analog beamforming works. While the data is exchanged with one UE, all other UEs are in the pause mode.

Assume the low-register singers (bass, baritone) turn left and sing the Canadian national anthem while the high-register singers turn right to sing the American national anthem. When they are done, the low-register singers turn to the right and sing the American national anthem, while the other half turn to the left and sing the Canadian national anthem.

Each listener records both the low and high versions on their smartphone, and then use an app to parse the low and high register together. Again, it took twice then what it would take if only one listener was present.

This is how digital 5G beamforming with a beam frequency reuse factor of 2 works. Each beam uses only half of the frequency bandwidth at a time, either the low or high band.

Next, the number of opera singers is doubled. Now we have two casts of singers in one location, so it is a bit crowded on stage. Everyone has a bullhorn. The original opera singers turn to the left and sing the Canadian national anthem, while the cloned opera members turn to the right and sing the American national anthem. Because they sing in the full register at the same time, both anthems can be sung simultaneously. This is how digital beamforming with a beam frequency reuse factor of 1 works. Each beam uses full frequency bandwidth to deliver data to the user.

Safe Distances for 4G and 5G

Now, back to the original setup: One listener is 100 feet away, in front of the cast. No bullhorns. Suppose the listener starts moving closer, still dead center in front of the singers. The sound grows louder and louder. At some point, the sound becomes too loud, and the listener’s ears start hurting. The listener backs away until the hurting stops. Let us say that is 15 feet from the cast. This is the minimum safe distance to listen to the opera without damaging your eardrums.

Mobile wireless networks work the same way. A governing body determines the maximum electric field intensity in front of the antenna. Engineers can calculate the safe distance from the antenna using the maximum electric field intensity. Coming closer than the calculated safe distance may cause harm to your body. The actual safe distance depends on many factors.

Back to the scenario at hand. The safe distance is 15 feet while standing dead center in front of the opera. This is a 4G case, with that case, moving away from the dead center decreases the intensity of the sound. If we are 15 feet away but are all the way to the side, we hear much less.

In that case, even if we come closer than 15 feet, our ears will not hurt. That is why it is safe to stand directly below a 4G panel antenna, even if the distance between you and the panel is less than the recommended minimum safe distance.

Finally, consider the safe distance for 5G cases. This time, the opera singers have bullhorns, and the sound is louder. Our ears start hurting 30 feet away from the singers. Not only is the safe distance larger, but it does also not change with the position of the listener, because the singers turn to face the listener as the listener moves. Thus, the safe distance is 30 feet in any direction relative to the center of the 5G antenna panel, including directly above and below the antenna.

This is how it works in the RF world, in principle, although in reality, the safe distance does vary a little with user equipment position relative to the panel.

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

Vladan Jevremovic, Ph.D., is director of engineering at iBwave Solutions. Visit www.ibwave.com.

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Women in Wireless

For Cathy Borten, It’s a Wonderful Life in the Wireless Industry

With a career spent zoning and permitting macro towers, and facilitating indoor DAS networks, Cathy Borten has worked to keep ordinances from impeding the progress of wireless technology.

Cathy Borten comes from a family with a deep connection to the law profession. That background led to a career — indeed, a life — devoted to performing the legal work that has made many, many wireless systems possible.

Her father, who passed away in 2014, was a lawyer and graduate from Washington and Lee University Law School, as are her uncle and nephew. From an incredibly early age, six to be exact, she began talking about the profession with her father, Leonard “Curly” Greenebaum, who was a managing partner in a high-profile practice of Sachs, Greenebaum & Tayler in Washington, D.C.

“I admired him more than I could ever say,” Borten said. “I was fascinated by his job. And I spent all of high school and all of my college years laser-focused on becoming a lawyer.” Because of her family connections, she grew up knowing a judge who would become her mentor. A life in law seemed preordained.

Cathy bortenI had just seen too many women wind up in this situation where they were really torn between working for these big law firms and taking care of their families— Cathy Borten

After graduating from college, she took a seven-year detour as a media buyer and marketing director, but at the urging of the Judge Paul H. Weinstein, who was a family friend, she followed the family tradition and entered Washington and Lee University. Upon graduation, she clerked for Judge Weinstein in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland.

In 1996, although she was offered a job in a high-powered D.C. law firm, Borten opted for a smaller firm — Abrams, West, Storm & Diamond (AWSD) — so she could raise a family, too.

“I had just seen too many women wind up in this situation where they were really torn between working for these big law firms and taking care of their families, and they couldn’t meet anybody’s expectations,” Borten said.

Career-long Education

That firm’s diverse client base, which included developers, Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems (BAMS) and the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland, would begin a career-long education for Borten as she became immersed in multiple points of view in the zoning and permitting of wireless structures.

“One day, one of the partners, M. Gregg (MG) Diamond, asked me to help with a BAMS appeal, which led to me working with him consistently on all of the wireless work that we had,” she said. “It started out just like a lease here and there, or a special exception for zoning here and there. And it wound up really becoming an ongoing, very volume-intense matter.”

City Attorney

The next big change for Borten came when the City of Gaithersburg, which was growing at a fast clip, decided to bring its city attorney in house. She left the firm and became city attorney where 90 percent of her work entailed land use zoning and planning.

“I maintained, just by extension, my connection with the wireless world, as tower companies and wireless carriers would come in with applications for sites,” she said.

Borten’s former colleague, Diamond, left AWSD to start his own firm, the Law Office of M. Gregg Diamond, in Bethesda. After her stint with the city, Borten rejoined Diamond at his new firm. “So, most people will tell you a lawyer alone is not a great scenario, because you need to be able to bounce things off of other attorneys,” Borten said. “MG was always that person for me. I just had so much respect for him, and he was just such a great mentor.”

She worked at the two-person law firm from home from 2007 to 2018, and during that time she and her husband raised two children who are now in college. She performed the leasing, zoning and land use work for a major carrier and related work with a tower company in the area, which included macro and rooftop sites and indoor DAS, as well as the early stages of outdoor DAS. Her work included hospitals, hotels and federal secure office buildings, even the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (home of Dr. Fauci).

“When I started out, in-building wireless was a small market,” Borten said. “It forced me to learn about so many different indoor environments. Indoor wireless ended up being a value-added proposition for the landlord and a tremendous piece of business for us.”

Airport

Borten performed the legal work for the DAS that is deployed in the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, which was the gift that just kept on giving.

“The airport is just a piece of the airport authority, and all these different levels that must give approval for changes,” she said. “It was a third party putting in the system, so we had to make sure that what they were doing was going to work for our client, which was a carrier. We worked on this lease for years, because it was always being amended to add new phases.”

In 2018, as her youngest went off to college, Borten was ready for a change. She reached out to an attorney she knew from her days as city attorney, Jody Kline, about an open position at Miller Miller & Canby. She is now in the firm’s real estate practice group and has found leasing experience in wireless to be helpful on the real estate side. But she keeps her hand in wireless, working with site acquisition companies and carriers, and she is now licensed to practice in Virginia.

The Importance of Connections

Borten acknowledges the importance of her longtime relationships with many people in the legal, land use and wireless worlds during her career.

“I think the relationship side is beyond critical,” she said. “My relationships have always helped me get to the next level in my legal career. Who knew when I left the law firm to become the city attorney that I would go back and work with MG again for 11 years?” she said.

Timing has also been essential to her success. When she started working with Abrams, West, Storm & Diamond, wireless was still in its second generation, and very few women were in land use and zoning. In fact, there were not that many women working in telecom in general. She got in on wireless early. She eventually would help develop the ordinances that would accommodate outdoor small cells.

In 2014, when Borten was at The Law Offices of M. Gregg Diamond, Montgomery County was rewriting its whole zoning ordinance. The telecom ordinances were so outdated and cumbersome that they lagged behind the pace of wireless technology.

“We wanted the opportunity to update them. Any time the size of the antennas changed, there had to be a new amendment. I had the opportunity to help draft the original small cell provisions of the zoning ordinance,” she said.

Borten couldn’t have foreseen her life in wireless when she chose a small Maryland law firm instead of a large Washington, D.C., firm, but she has had an effect on wireless as it moved from 2G to 5G. She has spent her career zoning and permitting macro towers, facilitating indoor DAS networks and working to keep ordinances from impeding the progress of wireless technology. Along the way, she has earned the respect of many long-term colleagues. She has had, it seems, a wonderful life in wireless.

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

J. Sharpe Smith is contributing editor to AGL Magazine and senior editor of AGL eDigest.

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5G

New Era, New Approach to the Challenges of 5G Deployment

To effectively meet the demand for 5G deployment, stakeholders must harness the power of data sharing and analytics — it starts with making four key mindset shifts.

If there’s one thing about growth — it has a way of demanding that we adapt. The same goes for the burgeoning deployment of a global 5G wireless communications network that promises to provide major improvements in speed, latency and volume, as well as important benefits to society’s economic, health care and educational systems. Companies involved in deployment must adapt to keep pace with the market. The Cisco Annual Internet Report from May 2020 states that “5G devices and connections will be over 10 percent of global mobile devices and connections by 2023.” What’s more, the report predicts that by 2023, global mobile devices will reach 13.1 billion, with 1.4 billion equipped for 5G capability.

How do we get there from here? It is vital for electric utilities, as well as their counterparts in communications, broadband, engineering and construction, to ask this question. John Sciarabba, CEO at Alden Systems, believes the answer lies in taking a process, not project, approach to each job. This mindset shift requires intentional communication and data sharing among the various stakeholders. To achieve that goal, we have to take a step back and look at the role that data (and data sharing) plays in facilitating meaningful change.

Consider this fact: Any consumer who purchases from Amazon expects that data will be shared about their shipment and tracking. That expectation is where society is today. In the utility industry, we need to be that data-driven. However, when it comes to asset management and coordination among 5G stakeholders, by and large, the industries involved are not yet as data-driven as they could be.

A field tech uses Leica Geosystems's Task Agent BLK3D to capture data pointsA field tech uses Leica Geosystems's Task Agent BLK3D to capture data points, which can later be used for discreet measurements from the office using Alden One. Photography by Leica Geosystems

Given the new technologies that exist today to streamline data collection in the field and in the back office, it is possible to envision a day where electric utilities, communications and broadband providers, municipalities, and service firms could subscribe to the same playbook and work together in a more efficient way toward their shared goals. Great things can happen when all 5G stakeholders appreciate how data analytics directly affect profitability, safety and speed of deployment. This future is in reach, and it begins when stakeholders understand these four key mindset shifts.

1. Recognize that all stakeholders have the same objective.

As the landscape shifts, the players in the 5G market can no longer afford to be siloed. Too much hangs in the balance — and not just for the 5G stakeholders. During a public event, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr stated that small cell deployment would create 27,000 jobs. This figure does not even include additional economic growth from expanding broadband access to all Americans. The reality is that “5G will be a determining factor in whether or not mobile-dependent users fully partake in the global digital economy, especially as smartphones, cell phones and other wireless-enabled devices become the only gateway to the internet for certain populations,” explains author Nicol Turner Lee in a Brookings Institute report. And there are additional benefits from 5G for things like telemedicine and distance learning that have now become essential services.

5G is also the foundation for the internet of things (IoT), which the industry recognizes as the gateway to smarter cities. Ultimately, all of this translates into economic prosperity for all our communities.

It is a worthy goal to serve our communities and help them prosper. Still, it can be easy to become stuck in one perspective and perceive those companies that are trying to change “business as usual” as a speedbump in the rush to deploy. The first step to meeting the demands of 5G deployment is realizing the value of our shared objective.

2. Respect the constraints and internal goals of all stakeholders.

With this common objective in sight, we realize that every company has a different role to play. If that seems obvious, understand that it is about more than just lip service. Knowing how each stakeholder’s internal missions can come into conflict requires us to appreciate the different sets of constraints that guide each other. For instance, a 5G carrier is interested in getting to market as fast as possible, because whoever gets there first will own market share for a while. Also, the service provider cannot start earning profit until it has turned up service, so it must invest a great deal of capital on the front end with time pressure to begin earning a return on that investment. On the flip side, you have asset owners who are legally responsible for making sure the structures they own are safe. In this case, speed cannot take priority over safety, and that is a good thing. Electric utilities have a need to be methodical; they get no second chances regarding the integrity of their work.

Clear communication among stakeholders can begin to shed light on these conflicting perspectives, but only when data can be shared in a way that provides useful insight.

A utility field tech uses Leica GeosystemsUsing photogrammetry technology integrated with a handheld device, this field tech captures multiple data points more accurately with one touch of a button. Photography by Leica Geosystems

3. Realize the need to use data to make better business decisions.

Efficient deployment of 5G is not unlike an intricate puzzle. Taking this analogy a step further, let’s think about what would happen if one department has some of the information about a job and another group outside the company has the rest of the information about the work, but they have no way to connect the dots to understand what data each other has.

Without the big picture, how successful can anyone be at putting it all together? That is where data sharing comes in. For example, knowing what is on a pole to facilitate a job requires you to have accurate data and share it. The power company needs the 5G deployer to communicate about project plans to better prepare.

To be clear, this is not a call for companies to share all data — not every stakeholder needs every piece of data. That is where software solutions add value by aggregating data, making it accessible at varying levels using roles and permissions, and, most importantly, delivering that data in a way that can be readily interpreted. Even when stakeholders commit to sharing information, they may not have a standardized process for sharing data, and technology can fill this need. If there is a process whereby data is structured, coordination becomes much more efficient.

Of course, this all rests on the assumption that companies are collecting accurate and consistent data about their asset base in the first place.

Fortunately, there are many current and evolving technologies in the utility and communications spaces that can swiftly capture more robust data with very little technical skill. When combined with software that can then make the data actionable downstream, these tools yield a formidable advantage. Michael Liberati, a U.S. business development manager for Leica Geosystems, explained more about this challenge. “One of the big pain points for field data collection is missed measurements,” he said, “and the other is that every additional second that a field tech spends physically taking measurements equates to fewer poles that can be measured in a day.”

Time is the most significant limitation to field technicians with the breakneck pace of 5G deployment. Traditionally, photos taken in a non-digital way would involve physically taking each measurement on site and then transcribing them to a piece of paper or maybe a tablet. If you think of the average number data points per pole and multiply that by dozens of poles captured per day in very challenging environmental conditions, fatigue and human error are obviously prevalent. If there is an error, techs have to travel back to remeasure, making it a costly ordeal, Liberati explained.

New tools that use photogrammetry technology integrated with smartphone-like handheld devices allow field techs to capture an entire scene, which can later be used for discreet measurements from the office. Known as reality capture, this technology has been prevalent in the AEC space for some time and is particularly suited for the unique challenges of 5G work. For example, using this technology on portable hand-held devices allows a degree of accuracy that is cost-effective for the amount of volume and geographic reach necessary for 5G deployment, Liberati pointed out. The ease of operation — it is basically like taking a photo from your phone — means training time is negligible, which only further aids with time crunches. Implementing accurate mass data collection that can be migrated from field collection into a central repository platform takes the benefit further by making the data actionable and shareable. Companies that make use of cutting-edge tools like these can craft processes that are replicable and sustainable.

4. Shift from a project mindset to a process mindset.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to clear is changing the way we think about the work. In the push to be faster and faster, the temptation is to view jobs as projects to be completed so we can get to the next one. Where this mindset falls short, however, is that if companies think only of temporary gains, it is doubtful they would make investments in process improvements that may require upfront time to get off the ground.

Making processes repeatable and taking time to automate common processes can pay big dividends in the long run. Here’s why: When stakeholders find time to invest in data collection and analytics, they can make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources. As an extension of that gain, they become more efficient and can free up assets and human capital to scale their business. After all, there is no lack of demand for work.

Take, for example, the company deploying 5G. The faster you get to market, the more market share you will have, and the better you will be at generating revenue. Using a process mindset, the company can use data analytics to group up like tasks and reduce unnecessary downtime and redundancies. When profitability is on the rise while inefficient labor and careless expenses are declining, there’s room to scale.

On the asset owner side, becoming process-oriented means you’ll use data analytics to avoid repeat field visits or time spent routing field techs to distant geographic locations. Simply put, having a process that is guided by data allows for visibility to guide smarter business decisions.

One obstacle to overcome is changing deeply engrained habits. Companies that are accustomed to communicating data on paper are at a distinct disadvantage, in terms of efficiency and risk of human error. Others that are capturing data electronically may be accustomed to using spreadsheets. This becomes problematic, considering how many people may have access to those records and how they structure data categories inconsistently. It is impossible to standardize, and you end up with multiple versions that defy any interpretation. The most competitive industry players understand the need to enlist more robust technological solutions that can deliver the right data to the right people at the right time.

Once rich data can be structured consistently to aggregate workloads, the process begins to chart a clearer path, with both the big picture and the details of each transaction coming into sharper focus. At the end of the day, we need data, but in order to achieve our shared objective of safe and efficient 5G deployment, we also need to make the data work for all of us. The success of the future starts with being intentional about how we think about meeting the challenges of today.

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

Jeana Durst is a freelance writer and editor based in Birmingham, Alabama. For more information, visit www.aldensys.com and shop.leica-geosystems.com.

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Tower of the Month

Site Name: Morse

Site Owner: Heartland Tower

Height: 221 feet

Location: Solon, Iowa

Year Constructed: 1950

Photography by Don Bishop

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Diversity in Wireless

Lynn Whitcher and Leticia Latino kick off AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Some people set their sights on the tower industry at a young age, but in the case of Leticia Latino, the industry seems to have set its sights on her. Although her father founded South American telecom services giant Neptuno, Latino told him she wanted to build her own career instead of joining his company. She found success in the world of finance, but wasn’t able to stay away from wireless for long.

AGL DEI – Leticia Latino from AGL Media Group on Vimeo.

Latino, now CEO of Neptuno USA, explains how the telecommunications industry won her back in the first installment of AGL’s newest video series, AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The series is hosted by Lynn Whitcher, General Counsel at MD7, one of the industry’s most articulate voices on issues of equity and inclusion.

Whitcher and Latino dive into the issue of certification for woman-owned businesses, and Latino explains when certification does and doesn’t make sense, in her opinion. She also points out that certification is just the first step for women and minority-owned businesses, noting that a sports team’s diversity recruitment would not be considered a success if the diverse players were benched during all games. Likewise, telecom companies need to give small businesses, woman-owned companies, and minority-owned firms a chance to show what they can do, Latino said.

Neptuno USA supplied towers in the US for an Ericsson Center of Excellence where technicians train for 5G deployments. Latino said this experience helped her get appointed to the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, where she chaired the Workforce Development Working Team. The team’s report was approved and is available on the FCC website.

“The main takeaway is that high wage jobs are available in our industry,” Latino said, adding that it is crucial to bring more people into the industry to train for these jobs and deploy the networks of the future. “Unless we bring workers into our workforce we are not going to achieve the goal,” she said.

Martha DeGrasse is a contributing editor to AGL eDigest.

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Drones UAV

Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Final Rule is the next incremental step toward further integration of unmanned aircraft (UA) in the National Airspace System. In its most basic form, remote identification can be described as a digital license plate for UA. Remote ID is necessary to address aviation safety and security issues regarding UA operations in the National Airspace System and is an essential building block toward safely allowing more complex UA operations.

The final rule establishes a new Part 89 in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Compliance timeframes and major provisions are summarized as follows.

Operating Rules

Under the final rule, all UA required to register must remotely identify, and operators have three options (described below) to satisfy this requirement. For UA weighing 0.55 lbs or less, remote identification is only required if the UA is operated under rules that require registration, such as Part 107. Operational rules take effect 30 months after the effective date of the rule.

  1. Standard remote ID unmanned aircraft:
    • Broadcasts remote ID messages directly from the UA via radio frequency broadcast (likely Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology), and broadcast will be compatible with existing personal wireless devices.
    • Standard remote ID message includes: UA ID (serial number of UA or session ID); latitude/longitude, altitude and velocity of UA; latitude/longitude and altitude of control station; emergency status; and time mark.
    • Remote ID message will be available to most personal wireless devices within range of the broadcast; however, correlating the serial number or session ID with the registration database will be limited to the FAA and can be made available to authorized law enforcement and national security personnel upon request.
    • Range of the remote ID broadcast may vary, as each UA must be designed to maximize the range at which the broadcast can be received.
  2. UA w/ remote ID broadcast module:
    • Broadcast module may be a separate device that is attached to an unmanned aircraft, or a feature built into the aircraft.
    • Enables retrofit for existing UA, and broadcast module serial number must be entered into the registration record for the unmanned aircraft.
    • Broadcast module remote ID message includes: serial number of the module; latitude/longitude, altitude, and velocity of UA; latitude/longitude and altitude of the take-off location, and time mark.
    • UA remotely identifying with a broadcast module must be operated within visual line of sight at all times.
    • Broadcast module to broadcast via radio frequency (likely Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology).
    • Compatibility with personal wireless devices and range of the remote ID broadcast module message similar to standard remote ID UA (see above).
  3. FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA):
    • Geographic areas recognized by the FAA where unmanned aircraft not equipped with Remote ID are allowed to fly.
    • Organizations eligible to apply for establishment of a FRIA include: community-based organizations recognized by the Administrator, primary and secondary educational institutions, trade schools, colleges and universities.
    • Must operate within visual line of sight and only within the boundaries of a FRIA.
    • The FAA will begin accepting applications for FRIAs 18 months after the effective date of the rule, and applications may be submitted at any time after that.
    • FRIA authorizations will be valid for 48 months, may be renewed, and may be terminated by the FAA for safety or security reasons.

Design and Production Rules for Manufacturers

  • Most unmanned aircraft must be produced as Standard Remote ID Unmanned Aircraft and meet the requirements of this rule beginning 18 months after the effective date of the rule.
  • Remote ID Broadcast modules must be produced to meet the requirements of the rule before they can be used.
  • The final rule establishes minimum performance requirements describing the desired outcomes, goals, and results for remote identification without establishing a specific means or process.
  • A person designing or producing a standard UA or broadcast module must show that the UA or broadcast module met the performance requirements of the rule by following an FAA-accepted means of compliance.
  • Under the rule, anyone can create a means of compliance. However, the FAA must accept that means of compliance before it can be used for the design or production of any standard remote identification UA or remote identification broadcast module.
  • FAA encourages consensus standards bodies to develop means of compliance and submit them to the FAA for acceptance.
  • Highlights of standard remote ID UA performance requirements:
    • UA must self-test so UA cannot takeoff if remote ID is not functioning
    • Remote ID cannot be disabled by the operator
    • Remote ID broadcast must be sent over unlicensed radio-frequency spectrum (receivable by personal wireless devices, ex: Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
    • Standard Remote ID UA and Remote ID Broadcast Modules must be designed to maximize the range at which the broadcast can be received.

Other Provisions in the Remote ID Final Rule

  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out and Air Traffic Control (ATC) Transponder Prohibition for UAS
    • The final rule amends Parts 91 and 107 to prohibit use of ADS-B Out or ATC Transponders on UAS unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator, or if flying under a flight plan and in two-way radio communication with ATC.
    • ADS-B Out & ATC transponder authorization is likely for large UAS operating in controlled airspace.
    • Part 89 prohibits the use of ADS-B Out as a means of meeting remote ID requirements.
  • Aeronautical Research
    • The rule provides for operators to seek special authorization to operate UA without remote identification for the purpose of aeronautical research or to show compliance with regulations.
  • Deviation authority
    • Final rule provides a mechanism for the FAA Administrator to authorize deviations from the operating requirements.
  • Foreign Registered Civil Unmanned Aircraft Operated in the United States
    • The rule allows a UA registered in a foreign country to be operated in the United States only if the operator files a notice of identification with the FAA. This enables the FAA and law enforcement to correlate a remote ID broadcast with a person responsible for the operation of a foreign-registered UA.

Major Changes from Proposed Rule to Final Rule

  • Network-based/internet transmission requirements have been eliminated. The final rule contains broadcast-only requirements.
  • UAS operators under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations may continue to register with the FAA once, rather than registering each aircraft. However, each standard UA or broadcast module serial number must also be entered into the registration record for the unmanned aircraft.
  • “Limited Remote ID UAS”’ has been eliminated and replaced with remote ID broadcast module requirements to enable existing UA to comply.
  • FRIA applications may be submitted to the FAA beginning 18 months after the effective date of the rule, and applications may be submitted at any time after that.
  • Educational institutions may now apply for FRIAs as well as community-based organizations.

Source: FAA

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Business

Inside Crown Castle International’s Business

At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference conducted on March 4, Dan Schlanger, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Crown Castle International, responded to questions from Simon Flannery, a managing director in Morgan Stanley’s New York office.

An unwavering goal of Crown Castle, Schlanger said, is to add more customers to its existing infrastructure, help carriers reduce their cost of implementation and operation of wireless infrastructure assets, and shorten the time to market for them. This led Crown Castle to enter the small cell and fiber business during the past five to 10 years, he said, building up assets mostly in the top 30 U.S. markets.

“We’re focused almost only on the United States because we think it’s the best market for wireless infrastructure ownership, and it’s growing the most,” Schlanger said. “The United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of the world’s investment in wireless infrastructure and wireless networks.”

Crown Castle spends its discretionary capital in small cells and in thin fiber that supports small cells in an effort to conduct business that will generate growth for a long period, Schlanger said. The company expects wireless carriers to densify their networks using small cells and intends to capture a big portion of that business because it is the largest outsourced provider of small cells in the country, he said.

Shared Infrastructure

Nevertheless, the core of Crown Castle’s business is telecommunications towers, allowing the company to project its financial results well into the future because it is such a stable, growing business, Schlanger said. As carriers invest more in their networks to carry ever-increasing network traffic, they rent more space on towers, he said. Because of the contract structure with built-in escalators and very low churn, Crown Castle expects its tower business revenue will grow about 6 percent this year, up from 5 percent growth in 2020.

“It is a significant premium over what our peers are performing in 2021,” Schlanger said, “and we don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be able to continue to perform really well from a tower perspective into the future. We are short-term and medium-term very well-positioned because how we’ve made our tower business model, including how we’ve contracted with our customers.”

All this comes without yet seeing a tremendous uptick in investment in 5G spending or in the 5G infrastructure, Schlanger said. “We are at the very early stages of a potentially decade-long investment cycle by our customers to improve the network and ultimately deliver a 5G experience. Dish Network has been very public with building a 5G nationwide network from scratch, and our agreement with Dish positions us to get more than our fair share of that build-out in the near-term.”

Effect of C-band Deployment

Meanwhile, any time Crown Castle’s customers have access to large amounts of spectrum, compete on network quality with each other and have a consumer base with access to handsets that allow them to use that spectrum, the mix of characteristics in the environment is good for towers and good for wireless infrastructure, Schlanger said. The network activity associated with deploying network assets to use C-band spectrum the operators bought in a recent FCC auction will bring about those characteristics, he said.

The deal with Verizon gave us confidence and gave the market confidence that all of our customers ultimately see value in an outsourced provider coming in and lowering their costs and increasing their speed. — Dan Schlanger

With C-band frequencies that have shorter range, operators will need more sites to cover the same area. Although he expects carriers to start their C-band deployments using towers, Schlanger said the equipment will end up on small cells and towers together.

“I can’t tell you when the flip will happen between towers and small cells, but when that happens, it will be positive for us because we have the right assets in the right markets to give customers lower cost, faster speed to market and better ability to compete for the consumer,” Schlanger said.

Collocation on small cells will play as important a role in profitability for Crown Castle as collocation on towers has. “Once we have built out the top 30 markets for our small cell business with a lot of fiber, then almost everything becomes collocation,” Schlanger said. “We’re seeing an increase in collocation because even a number of collocated nodes in the neighborhood of 30 percent for 2021 out of our about 10,000, that’s 3,000, a fair number of collocated nodes. The percentage may not change, but the number of collocations will.”

It has been difficult for Crown Castle to predict whether its customers want to be where the company already has fiber and small cells or whether they want to be in a more greenfield area of the market, Schlanger said. “But we do know that whenever we build, we focus on ensuring collocation opportunities, which dictates where we spend money. Our underwriting assumes adding one tenant every 10 years to a small cell system, and we’ve done better than that, probably because we’re early on in a nascent market. It will mature and then go into that one tenant every 10 years cadence. That’s a good cadence for the returns we can generate for our shareholders.”

Although the expectation of network operators using shared infrastructure underpins Crown Castle’s business, Schlanger said the company understands that carriers also will self-perform, as Verizon has done, and as all carriers have done with towers and small cells, to one degree or another. Yet, Verizon signed an agreement with Crown Castle involving 15,000 small cells, which Schlanger said is the biggest commitment the company ever received.

“Even Verizon, which wanted to build a lot of their fiber and small cells, sees a significant advantage to outsourcing certain small cells where we can give them a lower cost of implementation and operation and a faster-speed demand,” Schlanger said. “That’s what we’re trying to do with our shared infrastructure model, and if we can do that, we will attract more and more small cells and tower business over time. The deal with Verizon gave us confidence and gave the market confidence that all of our customers ultimately see value in an outsourced provider coming in and lowering their costs and increasing their speed.”

Fiber

Installing and operating fiber-optic cable routes as a part of its business has given Crown Castle an extensive fiber footprint in the top 30 U.S. markets. It has given the company a competitive advantage because, as Schlanger said, it would be difficult for another company to justify investing to try to unseat Crown Castle. As a result, he said, Crown Castle has not seen a tremendous increase in competitive intensity. “Our pricing and win shares have been consistent over a long period,” he said. “We have seen a difference in the competitive intensity for fiber-only place, where the multiples paid for those have gone up over time or even for private tower businesses, where the multiples for those have gone up over time. We haven’t seen the same type of thing in small cells.”

Schlanger said Crown Castle sees a continuation of solid opportunity and solid revenue growth in its fiber business because it focuses on large enterprises, financial services, health care, governments and school systems, companies and entities that need highly engineered custom systems and because Crown Castle has expertise and asset base serve them. He said its fiber business is not as affected by short-term moves as some small and medium-sized business markets can be. As a result, he said Crown Castle sees an opportunity to maintain a 3 percent growth rate for its fiber business.

“We are building out the vast majority of the growth in our small cell and fiber business,” Schlanger said. “We do not see mergers and acquisitions as being an important part of our future growth.”

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine. This report is based on a transcript of the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference provided courtesy of Seeking Alpha.

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Drones

Dual-sensor Drone Technology Digitalizes Wireless Infrastructure

OpenTower iQ, a digital twin solution supported by iTwin for telecommunications towers, provides 3D visualization, real-time decision support and predictive design from the ground up. The product resulted from a digital co-venture between Bentley Acceleration Initiatives and Visual Intelligence, a Houston-based sensor technology company, and Aeroprotechnik, an aerial inspection engineering company based in Viseu, Portugal.

Bentley Acceleration Initiatives is Bentley Systems’ strategic investment fund and incubator initiative. Its objective is to bring together partners in digital co-ventures to accelerate the marketing of creative cloud solutions based on the Bentley iTwin platform. OpenTower iQ, as supported by iTwin, is an example of co-venturing that combines digital technologies from other companies to address a market need.

As the demand for data continues to grow, tower companies and engineering firms are looking for all-inclusive, engineering-grade solutions to collocate, modify and maintain telecom infrastructure for the 5G rollout. OpenTower iQ facilitates modifying existing towers and maintaining accurate models, automating the repetitive work of producing as-built models and using artificial intelligence to detect critical components.

Tower companies can use OpenTower iQ to monitor the health of their towers and gain access to shared, secured data through a portal. Data analytics provide cost-benefit analysis to boost operational efficiency and ensure that all possible revenue is collected. Improved accuracy of tower inspections and smart inventory management saves time and cost, and improves safety. The new product is designed to handle the large asset portfolios of operators, processing and analyzing tens of thousands of towers.

To accelerate the launch of OpenTower iQ, Bentley Acceleration Initiatives acquired digital twin technology from Aeroprotechnik, an aerial inspection engineering company that specializes in automated asset data capture and digitalization solutions. The technology included artificial intelligence and reality modeling capabilities that provide detailed information on current site conditions, which helps tower companies speed up rollouts, enhance decision-making and shorten sales cycles.

Bentley Acceleration Initiatives also collaborated with Visual Intelligence, whose patented dual-sensor drone technology digitalizes physical infrastructure with millimeter accuracy to reliably deliver 3D, engineering-grade asset intelligence. Visual Intelligence is able to map more measurable surface area than alternative aerial and ground-based methods. Its patented drone sensor technology has the unique ability to capture the components of a tower, including bolts, wires, ladders and other items, with an extremely high degree of accuracy that was not previously possible.

With a comprehensive, millimeter-accurate digital twin, a tower company can virtually inspect a tower, see if it has been constructed correctly, determine whether the tower’s structural integrity is intact, and run collocation scenarios. Unlike rudimentary reality models produced from other cameras, Visual Intelligence enables a digital twin with such accuracy that it can support advanced analyses, such as connection integrity analysis and mount mapping analysis.

According to Santanu Das, senior vice president and chief acceleration officer of Bentley Acceleration Initiatives, the company’s objective is to incubate new businesses and augment existing ones using Bentley iTwin technologies.

“We provide a go-to-market accelerator to rapidly bring to users the innovative ideas from Bentley’s research and development in partnership with emerging industry leaders and technology specialists such as Visual Intelligence and Aeroprotechnik,” Das said. “Bentley Acceleration Initiatives helped incubate OpenTower iQ by funding its development, seeking out technology partnerships to fill whitespaces and creating a comprehensive go-to-market strategy.”

Das said the next step is to invite additional interested partners to start new digital integrator services to capture emerging opportunities for enterprise integration and implementation for towers.

“The telecom industry is going through a rapid transformation as multinetwork operators are expanding their portfolios through consolidation and moving from a 4G platform to 5G,” Das said. “Without a doubt, digital twin solutions like OpenTower iQ will help tower owners make the most of the industry’s burgeoning opportunities.”

Nikhil Jani, vice president of telecom and utilities at Genesys International, said that OpenTower iQ for tower planning and management is what he called a game-changer for the telecom market. “Within a couple of days, we had a high-quality reality model available with the reports and other aspects of the projects,” he said. “Now, all the tower data is available in digital form, and it’s accurate and current.”

Ted Miller, founder and chairman of Visual Intelligence and a former chairman and CEO of Crown Castle International, said that until now, drone data has failed to live up to its promise to the tower industry. He said this is largely because survey-grade drone sensors cannot collect the fidelity of data required to extract engineering-grade tower intelligence.

“Our patented drone sensor technology is the first of its kind to collect millimeter-class tower information,” Miller said. “We partnered with Bentley to utilize OpenTower iQ to translate this new fidelity of data into as-built digital twins and then apply AI to automate and unlock new kinds of tower insights. With OpenTower iQ, we’re enabling new applications of drone data and accelerating the value of digital twins to tower companies worldwide.”

Nuno Marques, founder of Aeroprotechnik, said that Bentley Acceleration Initiatives “proved to be an effective platform for ecosystem partners like Aeroprotechnik to scale up artificial intelligence-based solutions, transforming emerging technologies into real value for Bentley’s users.”

This article is also available in audio format. Listen now, or follow "AGL Magazine" on Spotify.

Source: Visual Intelligence

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5G

Samsung Demonstrates 5G Standalone Core Performance with Intel

According to information from Samsung Electronics, the company has achieved a significant performance breakthrough on its 5G wireless communications standalone (SA) core, in collaboration with Intel. The two companies achieved a 5G SA core data processing capacity of 305 Gbps (gigabits per second) per server and latency improvement in a mobile network environment with commercial features enabled.

This performance of Samsung’s 5G SA core was accomplished using the second-generation Intel Xeon scalable processor and the Intel Ethernet network adapter E810 with enhanced dynamic device personalization (DDP).

The capacity of 305 Gpbs is equivalent to hosting more than 200,000 users that are live-streaming standard definition (SD) videos simultaneously.

The resulting performance advancement will not only help increase cost-efficiency for 5G core network deployments, but also help accelerate the delivery of next-generation, high-capacity networks. This will foster more immersive 5G use cases that require much higher data volume processing with low latency. These include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X), experiences, which can be enjoyed without affecting performance through greater capacity.

5G’s Expanding Capacity

Normally, data processing requires a complex path using multiple cores, including packet distribution, transmission and processing cores. With the Intel Ethernet network adapter E810 with enhanced DDP, the data distribution and transmission functions are better optimized across the network adapter and the CPU cores, resulting in higher performance. Samsung and Intel were able to implement a simplified system configuration and boost packet processing and overall network performance.

“Through close collaboration with Intel, we were able to achieve an industry-leading performance with our 5G SA core,” said Sohyong Chong, senior vice president and head of core software researcj amd development for networks business at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung’s cloud-native 5G SA core, through its highly flexible and scalable design, will enable our customers to launch 5G services more swiftly and cost-effectively,” he said.

Alex Quach, vice president and general manager of Intel’s wireline and core network division, said that the transition to 5G standalone core is essential to achieve the full potential of 5G.. “This milestone achieved with Samsung is a verification of how strong industry collaboration and the use of innovative technologies can enhance performance to accelerate this transition and pave the way to new network and edge services,” he said.

For more information on the performance results, refer to Samsung’s white paper, “Samsung Achieves 305Gpbs on 5G UPF Core Utilizing Intel Architecture.”

Source: Samsung

 

Company Showcase

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In This Issue  
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From The Editor

The Tower Business: All Grown Up

Maybe the wireless infrastructure industry has been subject to intense technological devel...
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Backhaul Transport

Edge Content and Applications: QoS Is the Real Digital Divide

Rising network traffic, driven mainly by two-way video collaboration and streaming service...
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Drones UAV

Protecting Against Drone Threats Through Smart Airspace Security

The commercial and consumer drone market is exploding, with new applications for use emerg...
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5G

New Spectrum Strategy Reveals DoD’s Plan to Master Airwaves

Short of face-to-face conversation, wired internet or telephone land lines — a mystery to ...
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Antennas

How 4G and 5G Wireless Communications Antennas Really Work

Picture yourself in an open space — a meadow, if you will — on a quiet, sunny day. In fron...
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Women in Wireless

For Cathy Borten, It’s a Wonderful Life in the Wireless Industry

Cathy Borten comes from a family with a deep connection to the law profession. That backgr...
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5G

New Era, New Approach to the Challenges of 5G Deployment

If there’s one thing about growth — it has a way of demanding that we adapt. The sa...
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Diversity in Wireless

Lynn Whitcher and Leticia Latino kick off AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Some people set their sights on the tower industry at a young age, but in the case of Leti...
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Drones UAV

Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Final Rul...
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Business

Inside Crown Castle International’s Business

At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference conducted on March 4, Dan S...
 -
Drones

Dual-sensor Drone Technology Digitalizes Wireless Infrastructure

OpenTower iQ, a digital twin solution supported by iTwin for telecommunications towers, pr...
 -
5G

Samsung Demonstrates 5G Standalone Core Performance with Intel

According to information from Samsung Electronics, the company has achieved a significant ...