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February 2021

Scroll To Read Magazine

In This Issue

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From The Editor

Martin Cooper to Speak at February’s AGL Virtual Summit

When Martin Cooper talks, people listen. He is, after all, known as the father of the hand...
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Safety

Protecting First Responders in Case of an Accident at a Site

While major carriers and tower companies fill gaps in coverage and deploy 5G technology in...
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Site Development and Construction

Pole Owners and Service Providers Work Together to Bring Broadband to American Communities

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, cable television systems partially quenched Americas th...
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5G

Simplifying Fiber Deployments for 5G

One of the biggest topics of discussion regarding 5G wireless communications involves the ...
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Membership Organization

WIA Makes Ready for 2021: Adelstein

According to the president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), Jonat...
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FirstNet

The FirstNet Network Expands Across Virginia, West Virginia

Virginia and West Virginia’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless ...
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NTIA

Trusted Propagation Models Help Expand Commercial Wireless Services

Behind every wireless telecommunications decision is a prediction of how far the signal wi...
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Transitions

Vertical Bridge Merges with Eco-Site

Vertical Bridge REIT, the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastruct...
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Data Centers

Vertiv Experts Foresee Utility-Like Criticality for Data Centers in 2021

As the world moved online seemingly overnight in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cr...
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In Memoriam

Wireless Industry Mourns Loss of Jake MacLeod to COVID-19

John Stephen “Jake” MacLeod, a long-time communications industry veteran who held position...
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From The Editor

Martin Cooper to Speak at February’s AGL Virtual Summit

When Martin Cooper talks, people listen. He is, after all, known as the father of the handheld cellphone. Cooper placed the first handheld cellphone telephone call made in public, standing on Sixth Avenue in New York, on April 3, 1973. It made headlines. At the time, Cooper was a vice president of Motorola and director of operations of its communications division.

Cooper has a model of the first cellphone, which was rather large and heavy at two and a half pounds. Holding his thumb and forefinger about three inches apart, he said the design he came up with was only about that big.

“Then we handed it to the engineers, and they had to put literally a thousand components into the box,” he said.

In making the first call, Cooper called his rival, Joel Engel, who served as head of research at Bell Labs. AT&T and the Bell System wanted a monopoly for cell service with car phones. Cooper conceived of handheld devices and saw being able to compete with AT&T as vital to Motorola’s future.

In New York, Motorola placed two base stations capable of call handoff to demonstrate cellular communications. The company had plans to install a cell system called DynaTAC, which stood for Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage, in New York by 1976. But instead, Motorola collaborated with American Radio Telephone Service Incorporated in 1979 to build an experimental DynaTAC system in the Washington/Baltimore market that began commercial service as Cellular One in 1983.

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X handheld portable phone debuted 10 years after Cooper’s first public call, somewhat smaller and lighter than the 1973 model. The world now has an estimated 8 billion mobile subscribers.

Cooper will be speaking at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 11 at the AGL Virtual Summit. You can participate in an interactive session following his talk.

Cooper said his biggest interest now is the digital divide. He sees a serious problem in the United States and worldwide in the sense that it is not possible to get a genuine education today without having access to the internet.

“In the United States, one of the most advanced countries in the world, as many as 40 percent of our students don’t have access to the internet,” he said.

Solving the problems of coverage and affordability is key to overcoming the digital divide, Cooper said.

How about the cellphones of today?

“I’m not very happy with the existing cellphone,” Cooper said. “I think the smartphone is a device designed to do all things for all people, and when you do that, you don’t design something that is optimum for any of its features.”

Cooper reveals his vision for the cellphone of the future in his new book, Cutting the Cord: The Call Phone Has Transformed Humanity, published by RosettaBooks.

Join Martin Cooper and many other fine speakers at the AGL Virtual Summit on February 11 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. See you then!

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Safety

Protecting First Responders in Case of an Accident at a Site

Use a safety interlock device to disrupt commercial power and prevent RF emissions from transmitting from an antenna array when an accident or weather compromises the supporting structure or leads to its failure.

While major carriers and tower companies fill gaps in coverage and deploy 5G technology in underserved areas, the priority increases to put safety practices in place.

Deployments focus on populated, downtown areas with high volumes of motor vehicle traffic. First responders and utility workers dispatched to help during emergencies, to perform rescues or to restore services face possible health risks from hazardous RF emissions. Damaged structures with antennas oriented incorrectly may expose local populations to unsafe levels of radio-frequency (RF) emissions. RF or antenna power interrupting devices, long overdue, deliver an essential safety improvement. Master lease agreements (MLAs), local municipalities’ right of way (ROW) agreements and joint use licenses should require the use of safety interlocks.

Motor vehicle accidents pose one of the most significant risks to small cells and distributed antenna system (DAS) nodes. During periods with a high volume of motor vehicle traffic, busy street corners, strip malls, campuses and venues populated with antenna fixtures risk being struck by vehicles operated by distracted drivers. When they rush to the scene of an accident to extract victims needing emergency medical attention, our heroes need an awareness of many possible on-scene safety problems.

Most first responders lack RF safety training, nor do they understand the possible hazards associated with antenna arrays hidden in light standards or placed on utility poles. Unless its commercial power is interrupted, when one of these structures lies broken on the ground after a collision knocks it down, it can expose first responders to RF emissions greater than FCC guidelines safely allow. The RF levels could exceed safe ranges for the duration of the response, placing the victim, the responders or bystanders in additional harm’s way.

For the primary latency of traditional cellular service to succeed, 5G wireless communications service must overcome three challenges to obtain the speeds required to deliver on the promises made by carrier for faster data transmission:

  • Active antennas using a narrower beam path
  • Higher frequencies with greater bandwidth to deliver denser data packets
  • Better coverage through more points of access

The antenna coverage areas must be tightly spaced. Municipalities face extreme scrutiny from constituents who demand service reliability and who require unlimited data streams. Meanwhile, carriers receive pressure from investors and boards of director who insist on steady economic growth. To meet expectations, some municipalities build their small cell architecture in a fashion that promotes tourism and industry by luring savvy technophiles.

The FCC has the responsibility to set health standards for RF emissions. The FCC guidelines protect workers and the general population adequately when the radio units, associated equipment and antennas placed on structures provide the safest distance to human contact for the given wattage and directional RF source.

The expository RF guideline followed for a specific antenna placed in these populated areas does not account for the emission device that lies on the ground after a structure’s catastrophic failure. With political and other disruptions across the globe, demonstrations or an upheaval during civil unrest could topple cellular structures without disrupting commercial power. We depend on cellular structures’ signals for communication, social media posts, giving witness to events or casually posting video. Damage to the structure could become a health hazard, unknowingly affecting dozens of people. The ensuing unrestricted RF exposure would affect numerous fragile health systems of those nearby in the crowds.

Guardian First Responder Safety TripGuardian First Responder Safety Trip PerfectVision

Properly trained utility or emergency responders should be given the tools to confirm whether structures are online and transmitting so they can take steps to prevent exposure to an unguarded and active antenna array hidden in the ever-growing product lines of camouflaged or decorative shrouds. Critical training would require those first on the scene to test for stray voltage, locate the correct power shut-off device and power down equipment. They should have the training and knowledge to ensure that RF emission from the antenna array stops. However, many public servants do not carry RF detectors, because doing so may be outside of their scope of work or may be unsafe without training. Vital training stands at the forefront of helping first responders learn the dangers of RF exposure, but such training could place an undue burden on the municipality and strain already dwindling training budgets.

PerfectVision’s patented safety interlock device disrupts commercial power and prevents RF emissions from transmitting from an antenna array when an accident or weather compromises the supporting structure or leads to its failure. The small device installs easily on new or existing structures containing small cell or DAS equipment. The Guardian First Responder Safety Trip (FRST) is the first such safety interlock available and ready for commercial use. It protects an organization’s vital resources while maintaining critical infrastructure, limiting liability when a damaged structure places antennas elsewhere than their normal working position without the damage itself interrupting commercial power. Those who establish small cell networks in highly populated areas should make preventing harmful RF emission from injuring unsuspecting emergency response teams or the general public a primary objective when configuring equipment to meet FCC guidelines for RF exposure.

George Kerstetter, CUSP (certified utility safety professional) is the national solutions engineer at PerfectVision. He chairs the NATE: Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association’s Small Cell and DAS Committee and serves on its Military Member Committee.

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Site Development and Construction

Pole Owners and Service Providers Work Together to Bring Broadband to American Communities

Here is advice for wireless service providers to help them speed their access to utility poles for placing small cell antennas used for 5G wireless communications.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, cable television systems partially quenched Americas thirst for video entertainment as they expanded rapidly across the American landscape. In the 1990s, workers buried miles upon miles of fiber-optic cables along the nation’s roads, highways and railroad tracks, installed cables on utility poles and stretched them across the oceans of the world to exploit the power of the internet to deliver huge quantities of information and data. In the first decade of this century, the smart phone gave rise to instant entertainment and access to the information highway, anywhere, anytime. Through it all, the telecommunications industry continuously stepped up to meet the demand by building robust, reliable wireline and wireless telecommunications networks with applications and technology that are engrained in almost every aspect of American life.

The telecommunications industry has created consistent economic growth across all areas of the economy and has provided many societal benefits. Many areas of the country, however, still lack access to acceptable telecommunications connections and are unable to access the broadband tools and internet applications that enable the banking, shopping, telehealth and distance learning that are commonplace and necessary in today’s networked society.

Small Cell Antenna

According to the FCC, 19 million Americans still do not have access to minimum broadband speeds of 3 megabits per second upload and 25 megabits per second download. Most of this broadband gap occurs in areas with the lowest population densities per mile where the costs per user to construct broadband are high and the economics of providing service may be unsustainable. Recognizing this broadband gap, the federal government is pouring billions of dollars into funding the deployment of broadband in rural America. In the last few years, the FCC through the Connect America Fund has awarded close to $1.7 billion dollars by reverse auction for rural broadband deployment. In December 2020, the FCC awarded through another reverse auction close to $9.2 billion dollars through Phase 1 of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund for broadband deployment and is planning to award $9 billion in funding to deploy the fifth-generation wireless technology standard (5G). State and local governments also have funding initiatives in place to stimulate broadband deployment. This funding supplements the billions of dollars the wireless industry plans on spending to upgrade and redesign their networks to deliver 5G wireless communications.

The strategy to deliver 5G includes bringing the radio access network (RAN) and the core of the network closer to the end user to increase capacity and improve latency. Mobile network operators deploy small cell antennas on the edge of the network as a primary tactic to accomplish this goal. Utility-owned distribution poles and street lights comprise some of the infrastructure operators have under consideration for the deployment of small cell antennas.

Small Cell Antenna

Utility transmission and distribution poles form the backbone of the nation’s critical infrastructure and provide the pathway for the electric and telecommunications lines and equipment that power and connect the nations homes and businesses. Current FCC regulations require that investor-owned utilities and incumbent telephone local exchange carriers provide non-discriminatory access to poles, conduits and rights of way owned or controlled by the utility.

In many states, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) certifies to the FCC that the state will assume responsibility for the pole attachment process. Those “certified” states tend to follow the FCC provisions.

The FCC has implemented two new orders to accelerate broadband deployment that will affect pole owners in the upcoming months. The FCC’s “Accelerating Wireline” and “Accelerating Wireless” orders are forecast to accelerate processes at a time when pole owners may be experiencing an increase in volume of attachment requests and may require that some utilities change existing processes, add more resources and train personnel in new skill sets to remain in compliance with current rules and regulations.

Pole owners will need:

  • A more organized and transparent way to process incoming attachment applications and to track and share the status of applications so they can plan next steps.
  • Additional field resources to perform field surveys in a timely manner to identify potential rearrangement or make-ready work.
  • Safe and effective approaches for measuring available clearances in the power supply and communication space to ensure compliance with National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and state codes as well as adherence to construction standards. They also will need accurate methods for capturing attachment heights as inputs to pole loading software.
  • Additional engineering resources to review the attachment application and support electric connection requests to power the new equipment.

For a wireless provider trying to deploy a wireless network on time and within budget, it may be easy to believe that the pole owner is not concerned with your request, too busy to bother or intentionally delaying your application. The truth may be that the pole owner does not have the field and administrative resources to manage a fluctuating, non-core workload to process attachment requests. Understanding and empathizing with the pole owner’s challenges mentioned above should be a focus of your buildout strategy.

Many years ago, William Ury wrote a book titled Getting Past No, Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation. The book’s Chapter Two, “Step to Their Side,” explained that only by listening to what they had to say, acknowledging their point and agreeing whenever and wherever we could will we able to move from confrontation to cooperation. This concept easily applies to the relationship between the pole owner and the wireless service provider.

Small Cell Antenna

Stepping to the wireless side, it seems like one challenge that wireless providers may face is the inability to obtain information from the pole owner that would be helpful in optimizing route selection for fiber deployments and search ring locations for antenna placement. A best practice for resolution would be to engage in a joint audit of existing outside plant to ascertain its condition and identify areas of concern. Existing technologies such as light detection and ranging (LIDAR) can quickly identify pole heights, existing attachment locations, electrical configurations and vegetation or other interference problems, thus allowing the telecommunications provider to choose the best routes and antenna locations with minimum field visits and eliminating application mistakes that could cause delays in approving requests for attachment.

Some utilities may insist that they approve the design of wireless antennas and equipment, especially if it is being attached in the electrical supply space. Understanding the parameters and effects of the wireless equipment may challenge a utility engineer who may have spent most of his or her career working solely with electrical equipment. Providing the pole owner with detailed equipment engineering in a format acceptable to the utility and being able to communicate solutions to the pole owner’s concerns will expedite approval of your equipment. Using a utility-approved engineering contractor to design, process and permit the electrical connection requests may also help accelerate your network deployment.

Small Cell Antenna

Using different software for pole-loading analysis and make-ready engineering can be challenging. The use of a common joint use management and engineering platform that meets the requirements of all involved parties can be easily accomplished.

Holding a well-planned and organized workshop prior to deployment will help to improve communications and understanding of the challenges that exist and the opportunities that abound in the broadband deployment arena.

To help accelerate your deployment, consider outsourcing to a contractor familiar with both electrical and telecommunications construction and equipment, one that has existing relationships with utilities and that understands pole owner procedures and policies.

Ron Bilodeau is a senior solution consultant with Osmose Utilities Services who provides solutions to the utility and broadband industries on wide-ranging topics including joint use, and wireless collocation programs and processes. He has more than 35 years of management experience in the telecom and electric space. He participates with the IEEE Joint Use Working Group, he is a member of the Society of Cable Television Engineers; and is on the Utilities Technology Council UtiliSite and Utilities Broadband Committees. He is a certified project management professional. Visit www.osmose.com.

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5G

Simplifying Fiber Deployments for 5G

The early days of deploying 5G are here. The technology is well-designed, and fiber product is improving.

One of the biggest topics of discussion regarding 5G wireless communications involves the need for fiber-optic cable connectivity. To meet demands for low latency and high bandwidth, operators must extend fiber strands farther out into their networks. Depending on the equipment and services, the number of fibers per 5G radio base station site varies. However, some fiber must reach each site. A daunting task, extending large amounts of fiber to these sites can involve permitting, road construction, coordination and labor. Once installers deploy the 5G fiber, they then must attach fiber cables to the radios providing 5G services. Simplifying this process reduces installation and restoration time for 5G deployments.

Radically Simplify the Overall Project

Bringing fiber to anywhere, with the ability to satisfy the unique deployment needs of the service provider, engineer and network designer is becoming easier. Modern simplicity in design delivers cost-effective, technician-friendly solutions. The best solutions combine the flexibility to deploy a product platform across a full range of fiber applications, including fiber to the x (FTTX, meaning, fiber to any termination), cell site backhaul, distributed antenna system (DAS) networks, node collapse or other premise and commercial environments. The idea is to start wireless projects quickly.

One of the best examples of a product platform that spans multiple fiber operating environments and facilitates quick deployment is the fiber cassette. The fiber cassette provides flexibility and reliable performance within the inside plant, outside plant and access networks. All types of fiber cable construction can integrate within a fiber cassette to support a variety of patch-only, patch-and-splice, passive optical component hardware and plug-and-play scenarios.

Reduce Radio Turn-up Time

Plug-and-play technology significantly speeds a 5G fiber build. Instead of conventional splices, plug-and-play technology uses outside plant-rated connections. This use creates an opportunity for saving time not only during initial turn-up, but also during troubleshooting or operational moves, adds and changes. With plug-and-play, instead of placing splice closures throughout the access network that require a trained splicing technician to open and splice, the better alternative places a terminal, which is essentially a sealed patch field that almost anyone can patch into, by using a terminated fiber drop cable.

Clearfield expects to see the use of terminals as an application for 5G in a fashion similar to how operators deploy traditional fiber to the home (FTTH). In this case, the fiber tail of the terminal splices to a distribution cable passing through the serving area during the initial installation. To turn up a radio, a non-splicing technician can install a Lucent Connector (LC) duplex patch cable from the terminal to each radio. Installation may not have to occur during a service window because it is not necessary to open a splice case and manipulate fibers currently not in service. The terminal is a separate, safe location to connect fiber into the network without a chance of harming other critical circuits on the distribution fiber.

Limit Restoration Time

Storms, construction errors and accidental damage will occur when deploying 5G fiber and afterward and at all hours of the day or night. Limiting restoration time not only cuts costs but also reduces a customer’s frustration when service is down. Using craft-friendly products limits the need for highly trained technicians and gets customers up and running faster.

Recently introduced fiber solutions of the cable-in-conduit type have the same footprint as traditional flat drop fiber cable, with the added advantage of restorability. With a restorable one-pass fiber cable-in-conduit, a technician may easily repair microduct with a kit after an accidental fiber cut. Then, the technician installs a new, pushable assembly, minimizing costs and time to restore the service outage. This method provides a completely protected pathway from the access point directly to the premise, business or antenna.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed the push to roll out 5G, but the fact remains that citizens within the community continue to demand ubiquitous high-speed broadband service. The early days of deploying 5G are here. The technology is well-designed, and fiber product is improving. The selection of available deployment techniques used to build the fiber networks just got even better.

Kevin Morgan leads the marketing efforts for Clearfield as chief marketing officer. Visit www.seeclearfield.com.

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Membership Organization

WIA Makes Ready for 2021: Adelstein

Achievements in regulatory relief lie mostly behind for WIA, while workforce development makes more progress, and the association looks forward to having an in-person convention this year.

According to the president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), Jonathan Adelstein, the membership organization has a range of activities planned for 2021. WIA represents businesses that develop, build, own and operate wireless infrastructure in the United States, including wireless carriers, infrastructure providers and professional services firms.

Coronavirus Pandemic

The association leader also reflected upon 2020, saying that it was a strange year for everyone as many people in municipal government and in private industry performed their work at home instead of in their usual offices. Those who lacked online processes or who were not ready to work remotely really slowed down, he said. He explained that in response, WIA, through its member companies that work with municipalities and with their national organizations, to address communities experiencing major obstacles and help them in a cooperative way. He said the association broke through many early roadblocks to get things back on track.

Wireless has never have been better recognized for the role it plays for emergencies, health care and education and business — the entire economy. It really spotlighted us. — Jonathan Adelstein

Municipalities have largely adapted to the coronavirus pandemic, Adelstein said, although they are not processing wireless facility permit applications as smoothly as before. Many have had budget cuts, and they are under a lot of stress, he observed.

“But we found that by and large, we are able to get these wireless networks built, and we are able to maintain them,” Adelstein said. “Municipalities are recognizing how important they are, particularly in the pandemic. It has been a year since wireless received wide recognition of how critical it is to everything people do. Ten years ago, when wireless had average throughput of 4 Mbps, you couldn't have has Zoom calls; working from home would have been a disaster; and the economy would have ground to a halt. Wireless has never have been better recognized for the role it plays for emergencies, health care and education and business — the entire economy. It really spotlighted us.”

Biden Administration

Adelstein said that the characteristic of wireless facility regulation in 2021 would change with a Democratic takeover of the FCC and the administration, noting that it will not have the same level of focus on deregulation as before.

“The good news is, we achieved most of our agenda during the Trump administration,” he said. “We got Section 6409 fixed. We got compound expansion through so every town in the country now has 30 feet, almost automatically, that they can expand to include public safety equipment or new collocation without having to go through local approval. Many small cell orders were done, and 30 states passed wireless facilities laws that were responsible and tailored. Now, we just have to ride that out.”

Although Adelstein said the businesses WIA represents obtained the regulatory relief that they needed, and he hopes for more, the Democratic-lead FCC will be more sympathetic to municipalities. “We will have to make do with what we have,” he said.

Regulatory Roadblocks

Compared with others, some municipalities “are much more willing to roll out the red carpet” to applicants for wireless facility permits, he said. “Municipalities are starting to recognize that if they roll out the red carpet, they get more investment. Regulatory obstacles make it harder to build out wireless service in their areas, so we have worked with those putting up more resistance so that is more even. Wireless operators have limited capital expense (capex) budgets that they must use efficiently. Regulatory hurdles displace investment from some areas in favor of others, which is not ideal from either a consumer or an industry perspective. Municipalities with regulatory roadblocks will pay the price.”

Adelstein said he sees the potential for a huge investment in broadband infrastructure from the new Congress, pending an agreement among the Senate, the House and the administration. He said the prospects for a massive bill good.

Workforce Development

Last year, Adelstein said, the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) gave WIA grants and contracts for its Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) that helps employers quickly increase the size of their workforce, train people with the latest skills they need, find federal support and incentive funding, and find state-level funding that offloads their training cost to some extent. With a multi-employer model, he said WIA gets many small and mid-sized companies and, sometimes, larger employers together to share training materials and training programs for apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships improve employee retention, which has been a huge issue for our members,” Adelstein said. “New workers want to go to a business that offers an apprenticeship where they see a clear pathway to progress, where they're going to receive training. Thirty employers have joined TIRAP, and they are seeing good progress.”

Part of the DoL grant has allowed WIA to extend pioneering apprenticeship programs to five community colleges. Adelstein said that if employers want to set up apprenticeship programs that can be feeders to the selected community colleges, WIA could help them do that based on the models the association is developing through its DoL grant.

“WIA also is conducting an outreach to underrepresented communities and to veterans working with Warriors4Wireless and other veterans groups in an effort to develop a pipeline of diverse talent, including more women, more minorities and more veterans,” Adelstein said. “The Biden admiration is seeking to expand diversity inclusion. We are hoping to find ways to fund the training of these individuals for our employers.”

Trade Show

WIA originally scheduled its 2021 tradeshow, called Connectivity Expo and Connect (X), for May in Boston. Adelstein said the association rescheduled it for August, in hopes that the pandemic may be under control by then. Referring to the coronavirus vaccine, he said, “You have to get your shots and come to Boston in August. We just want to be in Boston in August. I know we all miss each other. I cannot wait to see the industry get together again. We are seeing early enthusiasm. I am confident that we should be in good shape by then. We will have a sort of family reunion extraordinaire in Boston in August. We will get out of wherever we are, get up to the cool climate up there, and see each other again. It has been way too long.”

Edited for length and style, this article is derived from an interview of Jonathan Adelstein conducted by Martha DeGrasse for the AGL Connection series. Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

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February 2021

Site Name: Basehor

Site Owner: Heartland Tower

Height: 240 feet

Location: Basehor, Kansas

Year Constructed: 1964

Photography by Don Bishop

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FirstNet

The FirstNet Network Expands Across Virginia, West Virginia

Virginia and West Virginia’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites and other network enhancements. This new infrastructure is a part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the states, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety.

“Virginia’s first responders deserve fast, reliable and dedicated coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting,” said Vince Apruzzese, president, AT&T Virginia. “We couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission and bring the state’s first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need. Working with public safety we’ve made FirstNet nimble, adaptable and ready to scale for even the most severe situations.”

Apruzzese added that Virginia was the first state in the country to opt in to FirstNet in July 2017. Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said that T&T is a valued corporate citizen in West Virginia. “This is another demonstration of their commitment to our state,” he said. "These enhancements will provide real dividends to first responders, businesses, and the people of West Virginia."

FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. It’s built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government.

That’s why AT&T has a responsibility unlike any other network provider. Moreover, unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband when needed with always-on priority and preemption for first responders. This helps ensure that the two states’ first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. It also gives first responders unthrottled access to the nation’s fastest overall network experience.

Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in the two states, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. Currently well ahead of schedule, the FirstNet build has already brought Virginia first responders purpose-built sites in Fairfax County, Prince William County and Alleghany County. New FirstNet cell sites have launched in the following four counties:

  • Carroll County: New sites are on the air, including Hillsville, at the intersection of US22 and Route 100, and Laurel Fork close to U.S. 58.
  • Fairfax County: A new site near the intersection of Franconia Road and South Van Dorn Street improves coverage between the Beltway and Kingstowne Town Center.
  • Floyd County: New sites are on the air in the county, including Copper Hill near Floyd Highway; Locust Grove around Route 661; and a new site that improves coverage around Midkiff Road in Floyd.
  • Patrick County: A new site north of Stuart provides coverage around U.S. 58, and another new site provides coverage around Route 747/Widow Drive in Meadows of Dan.

In West Virginia, FirstNet has purpose-built network enhancements in 14 counties, including McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Raleigh, Fayette, Boone, Putnam, Mason, Jefferson, Preston, Berkeley, Mineral, Marion and Monongalia. These sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. That’s what is driving our FirstNet build. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. Band 14 has also been added on nearly 300 existing sites as part of the initial FirstNet build across West Virginia.

Public safety-specific advanced capabilities: FirstNet is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders entire communication ecosystem of unique benefits including mission-centric devices, certified applications and always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data. This is like giving public safety communications the “lights and sirens” treatment so that they stay connected, no matter the emergency.

Unparalleled emergency support: The two states’ agencies on FirstNet also have 24/7 access to a nationwide fleet of 76 land-based and airborne deployable network assets. These portable cell sites can either be deployed for planned events or in emergencies at no additional charge. FirstNet Response Operations – led by a group of former first responders – guides the deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.

Free smartphones for life for public safety agencies: We’ve also expanded the benefits of FirstNet for West Virginia agencies – spanning law enforcement, fire, EMS, healthcare, hospital emergency departments, emergency management and 9-1-1 operations. Now, they can stay up-to-date with free smartphones for life at no additional cost on their FirstNet Mobile Unlimited plans. This means first responders across agencies of all sizes will have affordable access to their network for decades to come.

The COVID-19 health crisis illustrates precisely why public safety fought for the creation of FirstNet. Where public safety goes, we go. We’ve answered the call for tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. But with COVID-19, it is like experiencing a perpetual emergency in every community across the country. Public safety’s network is being tested in a completely new way, and it’s hitting the mark.

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “We worked hand-in-hand with West Virginia’s public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And these network enhancements are a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting these two states’ first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect communities.”

In addition to further elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, this new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

Source: FirstNet

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NTIA

Trusted Propagation Models Help Expand Commercial Wireless Services

Behind every wireless telecommunications decision is a prediction of how far the signal will travel and how much strength it will lose along the way. This is called propagation modeling. Propagation models drive decisions about things like how and where to deploy cell towers, what rules to establish for geographically sharing spectrum, and what kind of spectrum equipment to build. It is vital that all stakeholders trust the models being used and accept the results as sound.

NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), the nation’s spectrum and communications lab, released a new official code base for the Irregular Terrain Model (ITM) for use by experts and non-experts alike.

The FCC Report and Order opening the 6-GHz band to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed uses requires that ITM be used by the automated frequency coordination system designed to protect incumbents from commercial entrants. Under the Commission’s ruling, at specific distances, ITM must be used with an appropriate clutter model as one of the factors when determining exclusion zones to protect incumbent services.

ITM is the fifth propagation model code base that ITS has released on GitHub. In addition to the C++ propagation model source code, ITS published packages that target the .NET development environment. ITS also code signs its propagation software. Users can be confident that our products originate with us and have not been tampered with.

This work is another in a long line of ITS’s industry-leading research on propagation modelling. ITS is committed to not only providing world-class propagation models, but also to ensuring the availability of digital products whose integrity can be assured, that can be consumed by a large variety of applications and tools, and that can be used by experts and non-experts alike.

List of ITS open source propagation model software on GitHub:

  • LFMF: Low Frequency/Medium Frequency (LF/MF) Propagation Model
  • eHata: Low Frequency/Medium Frequency (LF/MF) Propagation Model
  • p528: Low Frequency/Medium Frequency (LF/MF) Propagation Model
  • IF-77: Low Frequency/Medium Frequency (LF/MF) Propagation Model
  • ITM: Low Frequency/Medium Frequency (LF/MF) Propagation Model

To view other available models, visit our ITS site.

Sheryl Genco is director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

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Transitions

Vertical Bridge Merges with Eco-Site

Vertical Bridge REIT, the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastructure and locations in the United States, has merged with Eco-Site, a developer of wireless communications, tower sites and infrastructure. The combination increases Vertical Bridge’s owned and master-leased tower portfolio to more than 20,000 sites and its entire portfolio to more than 290,000 sites in 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Eco-Site cofounders Dale Carey, Bob Glosson and Rich Stern have joined the Vertical Bridge executive team. Carey has been appointed executive vice president of strategy and convergence at Vertical Bridge. Glosson has joined as senior vice president of real estate solutions. Stern has joined as senior vice president of real estate.

  Dale Carey, Eco-Site cofounder Bob Glosson, Eco-Site cofounder Rich Stern, Eco-Site cofounder

“Vertical Bridge and Eco-Site share a proven track record of success in build-to-suit, having collectively constructed well over 1,600 new towers in the last five years alone,” said Alex Gellman, CEO and cofounder of Vertical Bridge. “This is the highest rate of any company in the market and a testament to our collective capabilities. The combination of Vertical Bridge and Eco-Site is truly a case of one plus one equals three, and we are thrilled to welcome Dale, Bob, Rich and their talented team to the Vertical Bridge family. We look forward to working together to continue bringing our fast, friendly and flexible service to customers as they build their 5G networks.”

According to Cary, the wireless sector is significantly different than it was just a few years ago and scale matters more than ever when it comes to being able to meet the evolving needs of customers. “I’ve known the Vertical Bridge team for many years and am excited to work with them under one banner,” he said. “Vertical Bridge and Eco-Site are both employee-centric, customer-focused and solutions-oriented firms. Together, we will scale faster, bring more opportunities to our customers and reach new milestones as the country’s largest private owner and operator of wireless infrastructure.”

Gellman added: “As a private, at-scale and permanent company, we have the flexibility and capital to be strategic in our growth model and we will continue to identify opportunities to expand our footprint that fit into our pure tower, pure U.S. strategy.” Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

Source: Vertical Bridge

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Data Centers

Vertiv Experts Foresee Utility-Like Criticality for Data Centers in 2021

As the world moved online seemingly overnight in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the criticality of data centers and the unrelenting reliance on them across all walks of life became an enduring storyline of the crisis. This reality will manifest in new ways in 2021 as the data center and the information ecosystem orbiting it emerge from the pandemic with a fourth utility criticality, complete with all the expectations and responsibilities that implies. This is among the emerging 2021 data center trends identified by experts from Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions.

...it is about supporting the digital economy in its most mission-critical forms, which include increased reliance on telemedicine and health, enhanced e-commerce, and global telecommunications and mass media. — Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer for Vertiv

Data centers have long been held to high availability standards, but the shift toward utility-like status will be noticeable in two ways. First, those high expectations for network availability will extend deep into rural and remote areas, bringing critical applications to more of the population. This will increase pressure on data centers to maintain connectivity even at the outer edges of their networks. Second, any distinction between availability and connectivity will be erased, as the ability to ensure and protect connections across increasingly distributed hybrid networks becomes as much of a requirement as any traditional measure of data center uptime.

“Data centers have been moving toward public utility-type status for some time, but the pandemic has crystalized the need to establish the kinds of official guardrails that have been commonplace across other utilities,” said Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer for Vertiv. “This isn’t just about working from home, although that is part of it. More importantly, it is about supporting the digital economy in its most mission-critical forms, which include increased reliance on telemedicine and health, enhanced e-commerce, and global telecommunications and mass media.”

The pandemic effectively established a new baseline for digital infrastructure as the industry adjusts to and eventually moves beyond the global shutdown. Against this backdrop, Vertiv’s experts identified several other emerging trends to watch in 2021. They are:

  • Digitalization on Fast Forward: COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on the workforce and the IT ecosystem supporting the new work-from-home model. Vertiv experts expect the pandemic-motivated investment in IT infrastructure to continue and expand, enabling more secure, reliable, and efficient remote work capabilities. Remote visibility

    and management will become paramount to the success of these work-from-home models. Already remote service capabilities have emerged to minimize the need for on-site service calls, and those practices are likely to continue long after the pandemic. Any cautious steps taken early in the crisis will be accelerated as the pandemic pushes into 2021 and organizations accept these changes not as a temporary detour, but rather a permanent adjustment to the way we work and do business. Over time, what is done in-person versus remotely will change, and the change will be driven by customers looking to minimize their on-site presence. That places a premium on connectivity, remote monitoring, data analytics, and even artificial intelligence to make decisions.

“Recovery requires a change in mindset for most organizations,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, in a recent statement. “There is no bouncing back. There needs to be a reset focused on moving forward.”

  • Bringing Large Data Center Capabilities to Small Spaces and the Edge: Today’s edge is more critical and more complex, functionally an extension of the data center rather than the glorified IT closet of the past. Cost and complexity have prevented implementation of data center best practices in these spaces, but that is changing. Vertiv’s experts anticipate a continued focus on bringing hyperscale and enterprise-level capabilities to these edge sites. This includes greater intelligence and control, an increased emphasis on availability and thermal management, and more attention to energy efficiency across systems.
  • The 5G Conversation Turns to Energy Consumption and Efficiency: In this early stage of 5G planning and launches, the discussion has rightly focused on the ultimate benefits of the technology – increased bandwidth and reduced latency – and the applications it will enable. However, as many countries begin their 5G wireless communicatons rollouts in 2021, and the early adopters start to drive breadth and scale, the focus will shift to the significant energy consumption increases brought on by 5G and strategies to deploy more efficiently and effectively. The network densification necessary to fully realize the promise of 5G unavoidably adds to the increased energy demands – estimated to be 3.5 times more than 4G. The coming year will see greater focus on managing that significant increase in energy consumption by exploring more efficient products and practices.
  • Sustainability Comes to the Forefront: 5G is one piece of a broader sustainability story. As the proliferation of data centers continues and even accelerates, especially in the hyperscale space, those cloud and colocation providers are facing increased scrutiny for their energy and water usage. The amplification of the climate change conversation and shifting political winds in the United States and globally will only add to the focus on the data center industry, which accounts for approximately 1 percent of global energy consumption. The coming year will see a wave of innovation focused on energy efficiency across the data center ecosystem. The benefits for data center operators are clear, starting with cost reduction, compliance with existing and anticipated regulations, and the goodwill that comes with establishing a leadership position in the global sustainability movement. Look for important innovations across the data center infrastructure space and especially in the area of thermal management.

Source: Vertiv

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In Memoriam

Wireless Industry Mourns Loss of Jake MacLeod to COVID-19

John Stephen “Jake” MacLeod, a long-time communications industry veteran who held positions at Powerwave Technologies, Bechtel and Hughes Network Systems in network design, deployment and operations, died Jan. 8 from pneumonia and COVID-19.

Ted Abrams, P.E., principal of Abrams Wireless, gave this remembrance: “Jake MacLeod, my friend and brother, will be long remembered by wireless veterans as a legend in the industry. I miss him already.”

Jake MacLeod moderating an industry event.John Stephen “Jake” MacLeod. Photo by Don Bishop

MacLeod was a thought leader who gave generously of his time and talent to the wireless industry as he eased into retirement, writing white papers for the Wireless Infrastructure Association. He headed WIA’s Innovation & Technology Council (ITC) when it launched in 2016.

“Many of us at WIA and among our members are deeply saddened over the passing of Jake MacLeod,” said Jonathan Adelstein, WIA’s president and CEO. “Jake was big and strong of body, mind, spirit and character. Losing a man so large leaves an unfillable void. Under his leadership, ITC produced major white papers that had a big impact not only for our diverse membership and industry, but also to policy makers and regulators in Washington, D.C., and in states and municipalities across the country.”

Adelstein said it was a testament to Jake’s stature and the respect with which he was held that he was able to convene and inspire subject matter experts to share their time and knowledge with the greater wireless community. “We offer our deepest condolences to his family and will work with his many friends to find a way to honor his memory at the appropriate time when we best can,” he said.

Jake was a helpful source to AGL Media Group for news articles and spoke at numerous AGL regional meetings. He was always willing to help the organization with its mission of educating the wireless industry. His manner was warm and avuncular. He had a homespun way of talking about technology that made it feel more as if he was swapping hunting stories.

He founded Gray Beards Consulting in 2009 to provide consulting services to government and commercial entities regarding communications network design, deployment and operations.

Before that, he served as executive vice president of the Government Solutions Business Unit (GSBU) for Powerwave Technologies, which focused on the public safety, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense markets. Jake spearheaded the public safety distributed antenna system design and deployment plans for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System program, the predecessor to FirstNet.

Jake spent 10 years with Bechtel as principal vice president, chief technology officer and Bechtel Fellow, where he was responsible for the development of Bechtel’s network planning and network optimization engineering teams of more than 150 people. His many accomplishments include:

  • He proposed the Iraq Rapid Reconstruction Plan for Communications Networks (wireline and public safety wireless) and led the team of specialists in Baghdad to execute the plan.
  • He was responsible for the design and development of Bechtel’s communications laboratories at Idaho National Laboratories and at Bechtel in Frederick, Maryland, which provided applied research and product development services including analysis and characterization of UMTS, HSDPA, node B hotels, WiMAX and distributed antenna systems.
  • He led a team that analyzed smart grid technologies and data centers.
  • He directed the development of the virtual survey tool, an automated GIS-based network-planning tool. He conceived and produced the Bechtel Communications Technical Journal, an authoritative technical publication focused on operations issues.

Prior to Bechtel, MacLeod spent nine years with Hughes Network Systems where he designed and deployed advanced wireless communications technologies in Russia, the United States and Indonesia. He began his career as a transmission engineer in 1978 with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in San Antonio, Texas.

MacLeod’s survivors include his wife, Constance Ann “Connie” MacLeod; sisters Linda Seveland and Marianne Pruitt; brothers Thomas, Michael and Patrick MacLeod; his children Lorrie Ann MacLeod Dickerson, Zachary Thomas MacLeod, Heather Lynn MacLeod Goodman and Sean McLeod; and 11 grandchildren.

J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest email newsletter.

 

Product Showcase

Safety Equipment

Safety Sign Support

ConcealFab

ConcealFab is the leader in developing innovative solutions to mitigate passive intermodulation (PIM) at cell sites. The latest addition to ConcealFab’s PIM Shield® family of products is a low PIM RF Safety Sign Support. RF safety signs have historically been attached to steel pipes near antennas using bailing wire. This attachment method generates high levels of PIM and can significantly impact site performance. ConcealFab’s new all-plastic RF Safety Sign Support eliminates PIM by preventing metal-to-metal contact. The new support is constructed from UV stable, glass-filled Nylon and is secured at the site using two heavy duty Acetal straps.

www.concealfab.com

First Responder Safety Switch (FRST)

PerfectVision

PerfectVision’s patented First Responder Safety Switch (FRST) is the first of its kind to address potential hazards of RF to first responders. Designed to prevent an active antenna array from transmitting during an emergency situation this product protects Firefighters, EMT’s, Police, Utility Workers, and the general public from exposure to hazardous levels of RF emission in the event a pole (or supporting structure) is damaged. This cost-effective safety interlock device ensures FCC compliance with RF emission exposure to active antenna arrays. The First Responder Safety Switch (FRST) reduces liability for municipalities by preventing accidental RF emission exposure to first responders.

www.perfect-vision.com

Universal Monopole Corner Bracket

Vancomm

Vancomm’s Universal Monopole Corner Bracket can be used to reinforce handrails on three-sided and four-sided monopole platforms. “This will save numerous designs and hours drilling and cutting”, says Michael Moskowitz, Vancomm’s Managing Partner. “It ultimately gives the owner, carrier, EOR, and installer one product that works across multiple applications.” The bracket is adjustable for spacing from the corner of the platform and fits pipe from 2-3/8” OD to 3-1/2” OD. Vancomm, the nation’s premier custom fabricator of antenna mounts and components.

“Anything you want – Any Way You Want It. Build not destroy.”

www.vancommsteel.com
 

Company Showcase

Safety Equipment

Vancomm LLC

Fabricating the Future of Wireless Infrastructure

Vancomm LLC manufactures and distributes communication components including antenna mounts, site hardware, ice bridge, and accessories.

Specializing in custom fabricated steel platforms and antenna mounting systems for all types of communication structures and configurations - even the most unique and difficult sites

In This Issue  
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From The Editor

Martin Cooper to Speak at February’s AGL Virtual Summit

When Martin Cooper talks, people listen. He is, after all, known as the father of the hand...
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Safety

Protecting First Responders in Case of an Accident at a Site

While major carriers and tower companies fill gaps in coverage and deploy 5G technology in...
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Site Development and Construction

Pole Owners and Service Providers Work Together to Bring Broadband to American Communities

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, cable television systems partially quenched Americas th...
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5G

Simplifying Fiber Deployments for 5G

One of the biggest topics of discussion regarding 5G wireless communications involves the ...
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Membership Organization

WIA Makes Ready for 2021: Adelstein

According to the president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), Jonat...
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FirstNet

The FirstNet Network Expands Across Virginia, West Virginia

Virginia and West Virginia’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless ...
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NTIA

Trusted Propagation Models Help Expand Commercial Wireless Services

Behind every wireless telecommunications decision is a prediction of how far the signal wi...
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Transitions

Vertical Bridge Merges with Eco-Site

Vertical Bridge REIT, the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastruct...
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Data Centers

Vertiv Experts Foresee Utility-Like Criticality for Data Centers in 2021

As the world moved online seemingly overnight in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cr...
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In Memoriam

Wireless Industry Mourns Loss of Jake MacLeod to COVID-19

John Stephen “Jake” MacLeod, a long-time communications industry veteran who held position...