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May 2021

Scroll To Read Magazine

In This Issue

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From The Editor

The Future Is so Bright, Ya Gotta Wear Shades

The future of the wireless infrastructure business is bright. It’s the money. Yes, it’s th...
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Power Systems

Careful Design for 5G Cell Site Power Requirements

Mobile network operators (MNOs) need to upgrade their power supplies for both telecoms sit...
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Site Development and Construction

RF Measurement Data Guides Tower Owner Decision-making

Aurora Insight provides data, analytics and insights to the wireless community by collecti...
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Digital Real Estate

How Telecom Towers and Fiber Fit Into a Digital Real Estate World

The way tower companies have been built is with a historic view that they have to dominate...
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5G Edge

The Critical Role Collocation Plays in 5G Edge Computing

The edge can mean different things to different people, according to Ben Green, vice presi...
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Diversity in Wireless

Bob Paige Shares Insights on Management, Diversity and M&A With Lynn Whitcher on AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent.” – Langston Coleman Vertical...
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Business

Crown Castle Ventures into CBRS

The Rudin Family, in collaboration with Crown Castle International, has announced that 345...
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Business

Geoverse Brings Power of LTE/5G Private Networks to the City of Tucson

Geoverse, a private cellular network operator, announced it is the managed service partner...
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Association News

CCA Presents Excellence in Marketing Awards

The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) has revealed the winners of its 2021 Excellence...
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5G Future

Intelligent Connected Machines to Be a Major Part of Life by 2030, Consumers Predict

Consumers expect connected technology to become more flexible and interactive going forwar...
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From The Editor

The Future Is so Bright, Ya Gotta Wear Shades

The future of the wireless infrastructure business is bright.

It’s the money. Yes, it’s the money. From the wonderful, creditworthy wireless carriers. From the wonderful, um, creditworthy federal government. Yes. Yes, I think that’s right. Creditworthy federal government.

About the carriers:

“They’re still on track to hit all of their goals.” — spoken by Bernard Borghei, executive vice president of operations and a founder of Vertical Bridge. Borghei spoke with me about wireless carriers when he said that during a fireside chat broadcast from the NEDAS Spring Symposium, which you can watch online: click here. Borghei was talking about the wireless carriers spending the money it takes to roll out 5G wireless communications networks.

“Going through the C-band auction, we were preparing ourselves that the carriers, for the amount of money that everyone was hearing that they spent on those spectrum licenses, we were expecting that there would be a slowdown on network investment,” Borghei said.

But — no. For Verizon and AT&T: No slowdown. Spending continues.

“Hearing the CEOs of the four companies, two of the four companies talking about it, that, ‘No, we are still committed to spending the capex that we said for this year,’” Borghei said.

“That’s great news,” he said, “and I can tell you that, sitting here, looking at the collocation applications that are coming in — it’s true. They have not held back, and they are spending the money that they said on densifying and expanding their networks.”

If I listen carefully, I can almost hear them saying something similar over at Crown Castle. Yes — it’s the voice of Jay Brown, the president and CEO: “Following a period of building excitement and anticipation, we have seen a significant increase in activity as our customers have started to upgrade their networks to 5G at scale.”

Brown spoke during a telephone conference call about the company’s earnings. He said, “We expect this elevated level of activity to result in a year of outsized growth for Crown Castle, as we now anticipate 11 percent in AFFO per share for the full year 2021, meaningfully above our long-term target of 7 to 8 percent.” Sounds great, whether you know AFFO or not.

When Dan Schlanger, Crown Castle’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, spoke, he sounded happy: “We are generating these returns while making investments in new small cell and fiber assets that we believe will add to our long-term growth opportunity.”

Spending some time listening to another company’s earnings call brought more good news:

“Macro towers continue to be by far the most cost-effective, RF-efficient network engineering option that are also optimally located to help deliver coverage and capacity for hundreds of millions of people nationwide,” said Tom Bartlett, president and CEO of American Tower.

Another voice: “We’re off to a strong start in 2021 …” — I was listening to Rod Smith, American Tower’s executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer — “We’re off to a strong start in 2021 as 5G ramps up in the United States and as carriers in our international markets deploy significant capital toward their network enhancement initiative,” he said.

About the federal government:

Add in something for broadband wireless — some billions, probably — from President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion infrastructure spending bill, and the light reflecting from the coins grows ever stronger.

The future of the wireless infrastructure business is so bright, ya gotta wear shades.

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Power Systems

Careful Design for 5G Cell Site Power Requirements

Existing power equipment at most mobile network operators’ sites will be unable to meet the requirements of 5G networks.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) need to upgrade their power supplies for both telecoms sites and data centers (DCs) in order to meet digitalization requirements and reduce operating expense (opex), according to Roberto Kompany, a senior analyst at Analysys Mason. Kompany said that MNOs should work with vendors to develop solutions that best meet the specific requirements for individual locations.

Roberto Kompany5G networks must deliver ubiquitous coverage and address a vast array of use cases beyond just mobile broadband— Roberto Kompany, senior analyst at Analysys Mason

Writing in a report issued by Analysys Mason, Kompany said that 5G deployments would further challenge MNOs’ opex budgets, noting that MNO network opex has been growing more quickly than their service revenue since 2018, and they have consistently missed opex reduction targets. Nonetheless, Kompany said, total network opex is expected to decrease by 6 percent ($24.4 billion) between 2019 and 2025 because of new efficiencies in many parts of the network. However, this is far from the consensus target of 30 percent by 2030 that was established in an operator survey conducted by Analysys Mason in 2018.

MNOs’ opex as a percentage of revenue will peak in 2020–2021 (see Figure 1), and Kompany largely attributed this to significant 5G deployments and further 4G expansion, but it also reflects the pressure on revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysys Mason forecast that network opex would have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of –1 percent between 2019 and 2025. In addition, the analysis found that MNO service revenue peaked in 2018 and will not return to growth until 2021. Analysys Mason forecast that service revenue would grow at a CAGR of just 0.6 percent between 2019 and 2025.

“5G networks must deliver ubiquitous coverage and address a vast array of use cases beyond just mobile broadband,” Kompany said. “To do so, each network will need three to four times the number of sites required by earlier mobile generations. Faster data speeds will be achieved by using a combination of large spectral bandwidths on the order of 100 MHz or higher and new active antennas, such as massive-MIMOs. As such, MNOs will struggle to significantly reduce their network opex in the next few years.”

Mobile network operator service revenue and opexFigure 1. Mobile network operator service revenue and opex as a percentage of service revenue, worldwide, 2017–2025. Source: Analysys Mason

The trend to disaggregate and virtualize the radio access network (RAN) will also increase power consumption because more servers will be required, Kompany said. He said that delivering ultra-low-latency services for virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) use cases calls for additional servers to be placed in DCs or at individual sites, which will further increase power consumption.

“It is therefore essential for MNOs to adopt a radically different approach to planning and running their new next-generation networks in order to cut not just the cost per site, but the absolute opex levels,” Kompany said. “Existing inefficient site power supplies will hamper MNOs’ 5G deployments and opex reduction efforts.”

The senior analyst said that a site’s power supply must deliver enough watts to service the three main components that are necessary for the base station to function adequately: the rectifier, the air conditioner (AC) and the back-up battery system. He said that the existing equipment at most operator sites delivers sufficient power to service 4G and other legacy networks, but not enough to meet the additional power requirements of 5G networks. The introduction of massive-MIMO antennas alone will require an additional 1,000 watts of power per sector,” Kompany said. Alongside this, he said, additional power is also required for other new equipment such as the radio units, baseband and servers.

“Furthermore, MNOs’ existing AC units and back-up battery systems are old, bulky and inefficient, and require significant physical space,” Kompany said. “The battery systems are lead-acid-based, which makes them heavy and costly to maintain, necessitates frequent site visits and, importantly, means that temperature variations can negatively impact their performance.”

When weather such as thunderstorms may cause electrical grid power fluctuations, it can lead to equipment damage. Kompany said that many of these failures cannot be resolved via remote operation and maintenance (O&M) activities and instead require site visits for repairs, which can add to costs and can result in coverage or capacity reduction or loss, particularly for rural sites.

This means that MNOs will need to invest in new equipment, Kompany said, together with AC units and back-up battery systems, in order to provide a high-quality 5G network. However, he said that this equipment will require additional physical space, and MNOs will need to expand their existing buildings if this extra space is not available.

“MNOs should work with their vendor partners to redesign and upgrade the power equipment for their radio access network and their DC sites,” Kompany said. “Each site will have its own constraints, which should be taken into consideration. Modern AC units and lithium batteries are much smaller than their older counterparts, which will lower MNOs’ site rental fees, and the improved efficiencies and lower battery weights mean that MNOs will no longer need to invest significantly in rooftop structural reinforcements.”

MNOs’ requirements will continue to evolve, and vendors’ power systems will continue to improve because of cooperation with MNOs, Kompany said. By way of example, he said that 5G networks are migrating towards virtualization and software-defined networking, and vendors should therefore ensure that their new power solutions use similar principles.

“New intelligent algorithms will help to keep electricity costs down by enabling switching between mains supply and batteries during peak electricity cost and traffic load times, while digitalization will improve automation and self-healing,” Kompany said.

Kompany is a member of Analysys Mason’s Telecoms Software and Networks research team and is the lead analyst for the Next-Generation Wireless Networks program focusing on strategy and market research. To download a copy of his report, click here.

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Site Development and Construction

RF Measurement Data Guides Tower Owner Decision-making

As a powerful business intelligence tool, RF data reveals information about towers, including competitors’ towers, to help owners learn where they may profitably invest in infrastructure.

Aurora Insight provides data, analytics and insights to the wireless community by collecting radio-frequency (RF) data through measurements. The company measures RF all over the world and uses them to create actionable information to help decision-makers with capital expense (capex) spending, obtaining the best return on investment (ROI) capital investments, optimize expenses, and formulate strategies.

Jennifer Alvarez, CEO and cofounder of Aurora InsightJennifer Alvarez, CEO and cofounder of Aurora Insight

Jennifer Alvarez, CEO and cofounder of Aurora Insight, said that to make the RF measurements, the company uses a specialized sensor that it deploys in fixed locations and that it drives around in cars, flies in aircraft and orbits the Earth on a satellite. The company expected to launch two more satellites this year, she said. Alvarez said the company has different tiers and regimes of spatial resolution for all of the data involving frequencies and technologies collected.

“The information is especially valuable to tower owners and tower operators,” she said. “We collect raw information about wireless spectrum, the RF environment, and distill it into information that tower owners can put into action. We measure all technologies, all frequencies, all networks and all operators. Once we map the information to towers to locate individual transmitters, we can tell which transmitters are on which towers.”

From this data, the Aurora Insight verifies not only the tenants on its customer’s towers, but also the tenants, network operators and technologies deployed on all towers in a given area. The data reveals the use of 3G, 4G or 5G technology and the frequency bands are in use —mid-band, low-band or millimeter-wave. From this type of information, the tower-owner customer obtains a much more comprehensive picture of what is actually on its tower.

“We even map a number of antennas per tower,” Alvarez said. “This gives the tower owner more complete information about their particular tower. We can also do this for the competition, so this is a very powerful business intelligence tool. From this information, we can also map things like coverage and coverage gaps. Tower owners learn where they might want to invest in infrastructure.”

Carrier Activity

From measurements, Aurora Insight verified that T-Mobile is rapidly deploying its 5G wireless communications service, predominantly using low-band frequencies. “We even found low-band 5G in Amarillo, Texas, which is a very small city in the panhandle of Texas,” Alvarez said.

Although T-Mobile is deploying service widely in low-band frequencies, she said, what really is the sweet spot in 5G are the mid-band frequencies. She referred to FCC RF spectrum auctions that took place in 2020 that focused on mid-band spectrum. She said it is so valuable because it has the best properties of propagation that low band does, yet higher bandwidths — not quite like millimeter-wave and high-band, but wider bandwidths than low-band. “So, it’s the sweet spot,” Alvarez said.

With the Sprint and T-Mobile merger, she explained, the Sprint 2.5-GHz mid-band spectrum all went to T-Mobile. Deploying it as a mid-band asset is a huge advantage for T-Mobile, in her view. She said Aurora Insight anticipates that the tower industry will see tremendous growth, with tens of thousands of new towers required to populate the mid-band T-Mobile spectrum.

On the other hand, as Alvarez observed, AT&T is deploying a lot of low-band RF spectrum. She said the company originally started out with millimeter-wave, high-band RF spectrum. In addition, she said Verizon stands to benefit from the spectrum auctions because of the mid-band spectrum that it could acquire.

Competitive Pressure

Speaking of the competitive pressure the T-Mobile deployments place upon Verizon to deploy quickly, once it obtains C-Band spectrum, Alvarez said Verizon’s millimeter-wave high-band spectrum comes with both benefits and challenges. She spoke of low latencies and wide bandwidth as good attributes of 5G, but she said the signals do not travel far and have trouble penetrating obstacles such as buildings and foliage.

“Verizon transitioning to a mid-band focus would still allow them to have the advantages of their millimeter-wave installations, but supplement that with much better coverage and much better penetration,” Alvarez said. “Because T-Mobile already has made great strides in the low-band and mid-band frequencies, Verizon has a bit of catching up to do.”

For areas in rural America, Alvarez said Aurora Insight maps mobile broadband coverage from the air, using general aviation aircraft, in addition to the use of fixed and mobile sensors. “We can survey vast rural areas that normally you couldn’t obtain any other data from, other than only from theoretical models,” she said. “What we’re doing from the air is taking measurements of the RF environment to give a more accurate picture of what actually is happening with spectrum and networks being deployed to serve the rural communities. This goes for areas where there are no roads, where you cannot drive around with test kits, and places where there aren’t many people, so there are other forms of information coming from crowd applications. Vast areas have no cellular activity.”

CBRS

In talking about Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) frequencies, Alvarez said that measurements indicate increasing use of 3.5-GHz frequencies, again referring to it as the sweet spot of mid-band spectrum. However, she said, CBRS frequencies are more difficult for network operators to use because of the different tiers of access involved.

“What we’re seeing is that, before the auction in July 2020 for the Priority Access Licenses (PALs), the use of General Authorization Access (GAA) frequencies was ongoing,” Alvarez said. “We were collecting data and showing that there was GAA activity in the middle of the country from smaller regional operators. Then, as the PALs were issued, we were seeing more of those come online as larger companies that acquired hundreds and hundreds of CBRS licenses started their CBRS networks. Also, smaller regional players are employing CBRS frequencies for smaller, localized networks.”

Asked about her history in starting Aurora Insight, Alvarez said that her background is highly technical, owing to her training as an electrical engineer. She said that throughout her career, she dealt with signals, communications systems and connectivity. What she found, she said, in looking at the commercial wireless industry, was a lack of information.

“There are various data sources like databases,” Alvarez said. “The FCC has its license database, the ASR tower information and other sources of data. However, they are incomplete and often inaccurate. The wireless ecosystem makes huge decisions, billion-dollar decisions, based on incomplete, inaccurate information. What I knew from my technical experience is that if we measure the RF environment and distill that into information that is accurate because it is based on measurements, then that would give the wireless ecosystem much better information to base their decisions on.”

That was the notion, she said, that sold her on the idea, and she decided to start Aurora Insight.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine. This article was derived from an AGL Connection interview with Jennifer Alvarez conducted by Martha DeGrasse.

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Digital Real Estate

How Telecom Towers and Fiber Fit Into a Digital Real Estate World

High single-digit and low double-digit growth now are found in different places than towers and fiber. Nevertheless, towers sustain respectable growth, while fiber continues to be super-competitive.

The way tower companies have been built is with a historic view that they have to dominate that one space, according to Marc Ganzi, CEO of Digital Colony Management and president and CEO of Colony Capital, a global digital infrastructure, real estate and investment management firm with 15 digital portfolio companies, 350 employees and $47 billion worth of assets under management. However, Ganzi said that tower customers’ needs are changing, and the networks they serve are changing, too. Ganzi spoke about telecommunications towers and digital real estate at a Connected Virtual Tech Event presented by Fifth Gen Media.

Regarding towers, Ganzi said that today, site acquisition specialists do not receive from mobile network operators a search ring as they did before. “It’s not like, ‘Here’s a polygon; go work it. Go bring me back three candidates,’” he said.

Ganzi said an inquiry these days is more likely to say something like, “I have 26 polygons. My standard deviation is 500 yards. I need 14 to 18 strands of fiber. By the way, I am going to put remote access units (RAUs) on top of all this. I don’t care if it is a tower or a utility pole. Here are my coverage specifications. By the way, we are fronthauling this back. You have to find me a radio access network (RAN) hub where I am going to have 3,500 square feet. Here are my technical standards for my RAN hub. And here is another list of technical standards for my cloud partner, who, by the way, is Amazon Web Services (AWS), and you have to create an ecosystem for them, too.”

At this point, Ganzi said, if you are a tower operator, “your mind just blows, because what you have just been handed is a mesh network that is going to interface and ultimately deploy multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO) technology. The only way you can deploy MIMO is with multiple radio access point networks, where there is a small cell node, a Wi-Fi access point — whatever it is, it is all coming back to a point of aggregation. That point of aggregation is called decentralized RAN. The radio access network is now being decentralized.”

Network operators are not building $250 million Ericsson switches anymore, Ganzi said. Those were back in the days when they were building 2G and 3G networks, he explained, but that sort of construction is just not happening, anymore. “The infrastructure is lighter,” he said. “It is more nimble. The ability to design and proliferate those networks requires a totally different abacus than what we were dealing with before.”

Digital Colony is going in that direction, and Ganzi said the evidence is reflected in the work the company performs on edge computing and small cell infrastructure side, and is reflected by the amount of fiber Digital Colony bought with its acquisition of Zayo Group Holdings for $8.2 billion in partnership with EQT.

“We are prepping ourselves for a different kind of battle,” Ganzi said. “We are going to play the game differently from the way we played it before. I don’t know if our industry is adapting fast enough, which is why you are seeing more carriers self-performing than ever around their 5G architecture.”

Nevertheless, towers are still great, Ganzi said. “American Tower is not going to go out of business because they whiffed on Cloud-RAN,” he said. “Equinix is not going to go out of business because they missed on edge computing. All these are great, well-run, multibillion-dollar companies that are built for the future. However, the good growth, the high single-digit, low double-digit growth, is in a different place, now. If you want to chase that, you have to go one way. If you want 3 percent to 4 percent growth, you go another way.”

Rich Berliner of Fifth Gen Media asked Ganzi a question related to why industry analysts have more praise for Digital Colony’s fiber-optic cable assets than for those owned by tower operator Crown Castle International. Ganzi said that for Crown, the difficulty involves storytelling. He said that Crown is beginning to give a lot more disclosure about its fiber business. What many do not understand, Ganzi said, is that unlike towers, fiber has multiple different types of businesses.

“You can go invest in infrastructure, which is the part that Jay loves,” Ganzi said, referring to Jay Brown, CEO of Crown. “Infrastructure includes long-term leases, long-haul metro rings, fiber to the tower and fiber to the node. Those four verticals are performing really well for Crown. They are having a lot of success in their long-haul routes, their metro rings, and their fiber-to-the-tower business and their small cell business. Where Crown has gotten a little bit sideways is with its enterprise business.”

The enterprise fiber business is super-competitive, Ganzi said he tells everyone. He said it is hard to be successful in enterprise fiber “because there is no privacy in having that great, zoned tower where, for example, you are driving down the Garden State Parkway, and there is this one pine tree that you got zoned that no one else could get zoned. You know how that ends. It ends with four rad centers and a tower that is doing $180,000 cash flow.”

In comparison, Ganzi said, “you go run fiber down the middle of Paramus, New Jersey, and there will be four or five competitors running down that conduit. If I have a 100,000-square-foot office building, and I have a curb cut with five providers, Crown being one of them, that is just a race to the bottom. You’re pricing circuits, you’re pricing wavelengths, you’re pricing dark fiber, and it is brutally competitive.”

Although that is the part of the business that Ganzi said he did not want to say Crown underestimated or overestimated, he said that from Day One, Crown should have told the story this way: “We have this other business, and it is not like towers. Let us explain it to you. It is going to have 60 to 100 basis points of churn every month. But, here is the good news: We are growing it at 14 percent to 15 percent, so it is a nice little net 3 percent to 4 percent growth business.”

If Crown would have disclosed that, pushed it over to the left really fast, and kept its wholesale fiber business in one lane, reported small cells in the third lane, and towers in the fourth lane, Ganzi said, the company would not have had a problem. Now, he said, Crown has to unwind that story and tell the story differently. Ganzi said he understood Crown’s situation with telling it story the right way, because he observed that Zayo Group Holdings had the same problem. The reason Digital Colony was able to buy Zayo at the right price, he said, was that Zayo had a messaging problem.

“The reality is that Crown has a great management team and a great set of assets,” Ganzi said. “They are going to figure out how to tell the story. Trying to communicate with public investors what fiber is, is hard. My good friend Jennifer Fritzsche at Wells Fargo Securities used to say, ‘Fiber is just a tower turned on its side.’ It’s not that simple.”

Ganzi listed factors that differentiate the fiber business from the tower business: “Permitting. Strategic moat. Privacy of conduits. Curb cuts. Access to buildings. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 that leveled the playing field, giving equal access to all property owners. Non-discriminatory access curb cuts to the minimum/main point-of-entry (MPOE). Once that happened, building owners could not keep us out of their MPOE. An enterprise had to let everyone in to the MPOE. What an enterprise did inside its risers was up to the enterprise, but the enterprise had to provide open access for everyone. That has created kind of a free-for-all with the enterprise.”

Since Digital Colony bought Zayo Group Holdings, Ganzi said he has served on Zayo’s board of directors, and he spends three to four hours a week on matters involving Zayo. Every week, he said, he learns more about the fiber business, which he described as super-interesting. He said Digital Colony is going to do really well with Zayo, yet other companies may not do well with some of their fiber assets if they paid a multiple of 28 or 30 times for those assets, as he said he has observed some pay.

“The fiber business is hard,” Ganzi said. “You have to wake up, and you have to fight every day.”

Referring to how much of his company’s digital strategy revolves around 5G wireless communications, Ganzi spoke of the money spent on digital during 2020. “There will be about a $378 billion total available market (TAM) in digital spend,” he said, “and $211 billion of that will be fiber. Some of that has to be 5G, yes? But a lot of that just has to be bringing broadband out to homes, and a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, big overweight in fiber to the home, big overweight in fiber to the whatever — data center, tower, you name it — and then, fiber to the enterprise.”

In Ganzi’s view, fiber is not necessarily a 5G catalyst and, instead, fiber is the connective tissue that brings it all together. As for towers and small cells, he said they probably represent about an $80 billion TAM in 2020, in terms of what was spent, and probably another $70 billion to $80 billion in data center spend. With data center spend, Ganzi said, everything Digital Colony is doing is oriented to the cloud because most of the growth is based on cloud computing, rotation of public cloud, rotation of private cloud, enterprise workload-shifting and IoT workload-shifting.

He said Digital Colony also is doing quite a bit with artificial intelligence (AI), which is reflected in many AI workloads with Nvidia and with teaching universities such as Carnegie Mellon and Georgia Tech, where Digital Colony has data centers on their campuses. IBM defines AI workloads as applications based on machine learning and deep learning, using unstructured data and information as the fuel to drive these applications.

“That’s what we call big compute, because those types of compute loads are big power density generators.”

Under the product name of DGX Systems, Nvidia offers what it calls the world’s first portfolio of purpose-built supercomputers designed to give data scientists the most powerful tools for AI exploration that goes from the desk to the data center and to the cloud.

“You have to have a sophisticated facility to deal with those AI guys, particularly Nvidia,” Ganzi said. “Nvidia is a big customer of ours.”

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5G Edge

The Critical Role Collocation Plays in 5G Edge Computing

The edge is about user experience and application performance, and 5G wireless communications represents a last-mile access methodology.

The edge can mean different things to different people, according to Ben Green, vice president of sales for network, channel and enterprise at CoreSite. The simple explanation, he said, is that edge means allowing a user to have a local experience at the user’s location, wherever that location may be. The user’s request for service, whether it is an application, gaming or video, will be served from a local source, eliminating internet lag time, buffering or latency problems associated with network designs of the last few decades, he said.

Ben Green, CoreSiteBen Green, vice president of sales for network, channel and enterprise at CoreSite Photo courtesy of CoreSite.com

The edge is about user experience and application performance, Green said. “Having a hub-and-spoke network design where users on the East Coast have to ping to a data center on the West Coast and then come back with a signal — that will cause problems for service providers and their users,” he said. “We believe that CoreSite is really well set up to deliver an edge user experience, given that our locations are spread across the country. By making use of CoreSite and deploying your infrastructure at our locations across the country, you could serve your users within a few milliseconds. They are all going to have the same local-feeling experience when you deploy at our sites in each of those markets.”

In Green’s view, 5G wireless communications represents a last-mile access methodology — and it probably isn’t even a mile. It is shorter than a mile, he said, given the distance limitations on 5G. Effectively, 5G will test your company’s edge plan. As Green explained it, a user on a phone may have a lightning-fast 5G connection to the nearest cell tower, but at that point, it jumps onto a fiber network and goes to the closest network interconnection point. Then, if the signal has to travel across the country from the East Coast to the West Coast, it has to ping the legacy on-prem data center and then return to the lightning-fast 5G connection. The whole promise of 5G is lost, at that point, Green said.

Delivering on the promise of 5G requires the use of a collocation provider positioned to deliver content and applications much closer to the user, optimizing the experience, Green said. Meanwhile, because not all data centers are created equal, Green said you should look for a data center with a rich network interconnection base. The more fiber carriers in the building, the better, he said, because it will improve the edge experience through network reach and deliver to as many users who may be on different networks in the area.

“Another key element to edge that we talk with clients about all the time is a hybrid cloud and a multicloud approach, really enabling enterprises with the ability to connect into the cloud of their choice to make use of different applications or solutions is critical to the success of the 5G edge,” Green said. “Even if someone says, ‘I’m going 100 percent cloud,’ they still need to be thinking about how they will effectively access their cloud provider but still integrate with all the networks that they need and all the business partners, all of their ancillary applications and other clouds. That’s what hybrid cloud is about. People should consider how they are going to effectively navigate among their cloud providers, their applications and their edge users. They should really do that making use of a multitenant data center, especially one that has cloud connectivity offerings.”

CoreSite, has an open cloud exchange, Green said, which provides real-time turn-up and turn-down connections to cloud service providers. Using the exchange, a service provider can take space within a CoreSite data center and directly connect to the cloud or multiple clouds of its choice. “This will be the quickest, most secure, most reliable, lowest latency way to connect to the cloud service providers that you need, while maintaining your ability to connect to everyone else that you need to interface with that make up your ecosystem to make that 5G edge solution run,” Green said.

Speaking of the future, Green said that 5G will provide a breakthrough moment for many content companies, gaming companies and for the smart city. He said that applications that are only three or four years away haven’t even been considered, today. The pace of change is so fast that there will be an amazing application that couldn’t have existed without 5G edge infrastructure in place, he said.

CoreSite, has network-to-network communication within its buildings, and Green said the company operates highly interconnected buildings in downtown metros across the United States. In some cases, the company has hundreds of fiber-optic providers interfacing with one another and exchanging traffic. Green said these network meet points are critical to a 5G application or to a smart city to provide access to all of the providers a service provider needs in one place, but also connecting to the preferred cloud service provider. Having AWS, Azure, Google and others on that to the building as well creates a future-proof situation, Green said.

“Here are the key things when you are thinking about choosing a collocation provider and trying to future-proof your choice,” Green said. “Number one, location. You have to minimize latency to your user. Number two, density of network interconnection. The more, the better. You are going to have a better performance to more users with more network options. And then finally, integration to clouds. You have to have a platform that allows you to interface rapidly at high throughput at lowest latency.”

Green said it just so happens those are the ingredients at CoreSite Data Center, “so we are in a good spot, looking to the future, whatever the future may bring.”

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine. This article was derived from remarks Ben Green made in an interview with Sterling Perrin, principal analyst of optical and transport at Heavy Reading.

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Diversity in Wireless

Bob Paige Shares Insights on Management, Diversity and M&A With Lynn Whitcher on AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent.” – Langston Coleman

Vertical Bridge Senior Vice President Bob Paige says he has been lucky, and it is easy to see why. He chose to enter telecom finance in 1987, when deregulation and wireless technology were both just starting to affect the industry. He earned his MBA while working full time and helping his wife care for their first child, an experience in multitasking that he said prepared him for helping to start Vertical Bridge.

The Vertical Bridge opportunity came to Paige through a chance encounter with the company’s CEO, Alex Gellman, at a 2014 industry conference. Paige congratulated Gellman on the sale of Global Tower Partners to American Tower. “He looked at me and asked, ‘What are you doing for the next ten years?’” Paige recalled.

Paige is now starting his eighth year as senior vice president of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) at Vertical Bridge. He said that market values of infrastructure assets have increased 40 percent to 50 percent during that time, adding that he also pays close attention to the increasing value of what Vertical Bridge calls its most important asset: people.

“We definitely like to keep people engaged,” Paige said. “After three years or so, I like to have the discussion about moving up or out. … I don’t want people to get complacent in a role.”

Paige shared details about Vertical Bridge’s corporate culture and his leadership style when he joined Md7 General Counsel Lynn Whitcher on the second installment of AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As did Whitcher’s first guest, Leticia Latino of Neptuno USA, Paige used a sports analogy to describe his company’s approach to diversity.

“We are a meritocracy, so we’re always looking for best athletes,” said Paige. “I don’t care what you look like or what your sexual orientation is or what your gender is. I’m really focused on getting the best athletes on the field.”

Paige, who often rises at 3 a.m. to go biking, has full days. He said that one thing he does not spend much time thinking about is diversity, which has come naturally to Vertical Bridge. “I think 40-plus percent of our company is not Caucasian,” he said. “I think we’re 20 different countries that people originate from — in fact, on my team alone, I’ve got five countries. … I think you make a lot better decisions by having that kind of diversity around the table.”

Martha DeGrasse is a contributing editor.

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Tower of the Month

Site Name: Cleveland

Site Owner: MW Towers

Height: 195 feet

Location: Cleveland, Missouri

Year Constructed: 2012

Photography by Paul Wrablica

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Business

Crown Castle Ventures into CBRS

The Rudin Family, in collaboration with Crown Castle International, has announced that 345 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan has become one of the first multi-tenant commercial office buildings to deploy a wireless network using the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

345 Park tenants will be able to create and access their own dedicated, private broadband wireless networks using a neutral-host CBRS network built at the lobby and concourse levels. Additional areas within the building are to be connected later this year. Construction overlapped with a renovation of the lobby and concourse designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and coincides with the first anniversary of the FCC’s authorization of the CBRS spectrum band for commercial use.

The initiative, which doubles the current wireless capacity, provides more flexibility for configuring wireless solutions for improved security and visitor features. Although tenants, employees and visitors can use this higher-capacity private network, it also allows building ownership to accommodate significantly more devices. Also, the system supports more bandwidth in the lobby for tenants and visitors as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

345 Park Avenue345 Park Avenue Photo courtesy of the Rudin Family

“CBRS is consistent with our company’s focus on shared assets for the benefit of all” said Paul Reddick, vice president of strategy, business and product development at Crown Castle. “This is of great value to building owners, tenants, and wireless network operators.”

345 Park Avenue is WiredScore Platinum and uses the Nantum operating system, a smart building platform developed by Rudin’s start-up technology company, Prescriptive Data, to save money, make tenants more comfortable and dramatically increase energy efficiency. The new multi-tenant CBRS network will seamlessly integrate with Nantum to provide faster real-time updates to both ownership and tenants, including floor-by-floor occupancy data, indoor air quality, lobby occupancy and elevator wait times.

KPMG, a 345 Park tenant, selected Nantum to be part of a new patent-pending blockchain capability called KPMG Climate Accounting Infrastructure (CAI), which helps organizations more accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions and track offsets. The CBRS network brings increased bandwidth and heightened security to capture data continuously.

“Real estate owners and operators are under immense pressure to assess the impact of different climate risks on their assets, improve tenant experience and report progress toward emissions reduction goals to stakeholders,” said Arun Ghosh, KPMG One Americas Blockchain & Cryptoassets leader. “A CBRS network can provide the fault-tolerant, local 5G backbone to enable KPMG Climate Accounting Infrastructure to capture highly granular data, powered by Nantum, to derive the trusted insights needed to measure progress toward net-zero by accounting for decarbonization and the transition to renewable energy.”

The CBRS network at 345 Park was designed with the infrastructure to meet future demands, including 5G software-upgradable radios, that will provide faster speeds and elevated user experiences. Additionally, the private network was built as an Open RAN solution that will lead to lower cost and more flexibility.

Source: Crown Castle International

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Business

Geoverse Brings Power of LTE/5G Private Networks to the City of Tucson

Geoverse, a private cellular network operator, announced it is the managed service partner for the Citizens Broadband Radio Network (CBRS) network being rolled out across Tucson, Arizona, by the city’s municipal government. The network will enable remote learning and multiple smart city applications in the first phase and new use cases and applications in follow-on phases. According to Geoverse, the city’s private network is one of the largest municipal cellular deployments rolled out so far in the United States.

The city has deployed the Geoverse GeoCore Evolved Packet Core (EPC) as the critical control element to manage the CBRS radio network infrastructure from JMA Wireless, the Spectrum Access Service (SAS) from Google, and the many user devices. Mobile devices and end points will be populated with a Geoverse subscriber identity module (SIM) card, enabling them to securely connect to the private network and utilize capabilities such as roaming if they travel off-net.

With the increasing requirement for remote learning, multiple school districts across Tucson faced an all-too-familiar problem: Many households lacked the resources to connect their school-age children. With limited resources and budgets, these school districts approached the city’s IT department to see how it could help address this digital divide.

Collin Boyce, the city government’s CIO, embraced the challenge and quickly developed a strategic plan that started with a school and city-county partnership. Local municipal assets such as city fiber and building rooftops and towers, combined with federal grant money, resulted in a viable plan to solve the student connectivity issue near-term, while also creating a network that could benefit the community elsewhere long-term.

A Wi-Fi approach was considered, but the required equipment, installation resources and related costs to connect the 31 neighborhoods, five school districts and almost 100,000 students proved problematic. Instead, the city evaluated LTE and CBRS, identified key advantages they offer, such as signal reach, performance, proven security and seamless mobility, and ultimately that became the foundation for the municipal solution.

“The resulting CBRS infrastructure footprint and related deployment resources required were significantly much more manageable and therefore more cost-effective, which was significant in understanding the tight schedule and limited resources we were managing against,” Boyce said.

The municipal network offers high-performance wireless connectivity with download speeds of 50 Mbps. In addition, the GeoCore Service platform allows for network slicing across the cellular network, resulting in multiple virtual networks, each of which can each be dedicated to specific functions to help manage city infrastructure domains better.

Uses include connecting the city’s network of traffic lights, monitoring and managing its critical water systems, serving city parks and recreational spaces with public Wi-Fi, and connecting first responders. The network also will be the platform the city uses to offer its staff low-cost, high-performance internet service.

“Once we became more familiar with all the capabilities of LTE and CBRS, it became increasingly clear that Geoverse was the right partner to lead and manage the delivery of this technology for our community network,” Boyce said.

Rod Nelson, the CEO of Geoverse, said the network represents a major deployment for its coverage area and for its support of use cases, underscoring the value of what such highly capable networks can do. “We’re pleased to partner with the city of Tucson on such a critical effort to keep their communities connected and their schools open. This is a model other cities are closely watching,” he said.

Geoverse is a licensed mobile operator that provides turnkey connectivity solutions for enterprises, property owners, and communities. The company’s private 5G/LTE cellular network offering, which is based on CBRS and licensed spectrum, interconnects with major mobile operators, delivering a secure, flexible solution enabling value-added applications and high-performance coverage for users and devices. Geoverse is a subsidiary of ATN International, a company with more than 30 years of experience building and operating cellular solutions for enterprises, carriers and consumers.

Source: Geoverse

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Association News

CCA Presents Excellence in Marketing Awards

The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) has revealed the winners of its 2021 Excellence in Marketing Awards that recognize creative and distinctive marketing campaigns across traditional and online platforms by mobile industry companies.

Selected by CCA members, this year’s winners are honored for their memorable campaigns across various platforms including radio, print and online ads, TV commercials and YouTube, and other animated online videos. The People’s Choice award is given to the carrier or associate member campaign submission with the most overall votes.

“Congratulations to the award winners for these outstanding marketing campaigns that tell important stories and showcase innovative technologies,” said Steven K. Berry, president of CCA. “These creative campaigns are unique and original and help bring a greater understanding of the benefits of mobile technology for all Americans – whether rural, urban or suburban. I’m delighted that the Excellence in Marketing Awards recognize the imagination and inspiring work of so many companies over the past year.”

The winners of the 2021 Excellence in Marketing Awards include:

  • Radio Spot (Carrier): Viaero Wireless; campaign title: Christmas 4 for $100
  • TV Commercial and YouTube (Carrier): Appalachian Wireless; campaign title: Homecoming
  • TV Commercial and YouTube (Associate): Parallel Wireless; campaign title: Open RAN Introduction
  • Print Advertising (Carrier): Cellular One of Northeast Arizona; campaign title: Free Google Pixel
  • Print Advertising (Associate): Ookla; campaign title: Worldwide Growth of 5G in 2020
  • Online Advertising (Carrier): Nex-Tech Wireless; campaign title: Keeping Kansans Connected
  • Online Advertising (Associate): BEC Technologies; campaign title: CBRS Outdoor Connectivity Device
  • Animated Online Videos (Carrier): Carolina West Wireless; campaign title: Choose Local for Local
  • Animated Online Videos (Associate): Parallel Wireless; campaign title: Parallel Wireless Everything You Need to Know about Open RAN
  • People’s Choice Award: Cellcom; campaign title: No Holding Radio Spot

CCA is a membership organization of competitive wireless providers and stakeholders across the United States. Members range from small, rural carriers serving fewer than 5,000 customers, to regional and nationwide providers serving millions of customers, as well as vendors and suppliers that provide wireless communications products and services. CCA’s 2021 Mobile Carriers Show will take place virtually March 30-31; registration is free. CCA’s 2021 Annual Convention will take place Sept. 20-22 in Phoenix. Visit www.ccamobile.org.

Source: CCA

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5G Future

Intelligent Connected Machines to Be a Major Part of Life by 2030, Consumers Predict

Devices will intelligently adapt to any signal, with use of cellular, Wi-Fi and fixed connectivity being seamless, as well as smart signal locators that guide users to spots with optimal coverage even in crowded areas.

Consumers expect connected technology to become more flexible and interactive going forward and see devices enabling more proactive, and even creative choices in a wide range of everyday life situations by 2030.

The 10th edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab “10 Hot Consumer Trends” report highlights consumer predictions about the various roles that connected intelligent machines could take on. Each of these roles could be seen as new service areas, opening a range of opportunities for 5G wireless communications service providers to gradually extend intelligent networks to their customers.

At Ericsson Research, our vision is that advances in artificial intelligence and cellular communications technology will enable connected intelligent machines to securely communicate across the networks of tomorrow. In the process, they could make the world more responsive to consumer needs than ever before, given that consumers predict intelligent connectivity to enable services that go way beyond the mobile broadband experiences of today.

Ericsson, Internet of Things

Based on long-standing global trend research, the ConsumerLab “10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030” report represents the expectations and predictions of 50 million early technology adopters across 15 major cities.

In this study, respondents rated 112 connected intelligent machine concepts, ranging from a human-centered to a more rational perspective. The result is an overview of the 10 roles consumers expect connected intelligent machines to take in everyday life by 2030. Each trend in the report depicts a specific role that such machines could take.

Michael Björn, Ph.D., head of research agenda at Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab and author of the report, said: “I was surprised to see that consumer expectations on smarter connectivity are higher than for any other connected intelligent machine type. The Connectivity Gofers trend includes predictions that devices will intelligently adapt to any signal, with use of cellular, Wi-Fi and fixed connectivity being seamless, as well as smart signal locators that guide users to spots with optimal coverage even in crowded areas.”

Björn said that this points to opportunities for 5G service providers to gradually extend intelligent networks to cover a whole range of new services for their customers, and each of the machine roles presented in the report could be seen as a whole new service area.

“The Community Bots trend, for example, highlights the role machine intelligence could take in providing much needed community services,” Björn said. “The Explainers puts forward the idea that all connected devices need to be able to explain themselves to users, and Sustainability bots focuses on the increased need for localized intelligent climate advice.”

What all of these potential services have in common, Björn said, is that they rely on intelligently communicating across devices and thus puts the networking aspect even more in the front seat than today.

The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2030

  • Body bots: Get a power-up – 76 percent of consumers predict there will be intelligent posture-supporting suits.
  • Guardian angels: Three-quarters believe that privacy guardians will help fool surveillance cameras and block electronic snooping.
  • Community bots: Seventy-eight percent believe electronic watchdog services will alert neighborhood allies to any trespassers.
  • Sustainability bots: Future weather will be extreme – 82 percent believe devices will share data and warn about local rain torrents or heat blasts.
  • Home officers: WFH uninterrupted – 79 percent say smart speakers will project noise-canceling walls around the home office space.
  • Explainers: Over eight in 10 predict automated financial management systems that explain how your investments are handled.
  • Connectivity gofers: Smart signal locators will be able to guide you to optimal connectivity spots, say 83 percent of consumers.
  • Baddie bots: A baddie bot that can be trained to carry out burglaries or attack other people is wanted by 37 percent of AR/VR users.
  • Media creators: Machines will curate content. Sixty-two percent think game consoles will make original games based on their game play.
  • Bossy bots: Around seven in 10 believe that social network artificial intelligences will understand your personality and build up a circle of friends that is good for your mental and physical wellbeing.

Read the ConsumerLab “Hot Consumer Trends 2030” report here.

Source: Ericsson

 

Product Showcase

Test & Measurement Equipment & Power Systems

ICT Modular Power Series

Innovative Circuit Technology Ltd.

The ICT Modular Power Series is a configurable DC power system offering reliable power for mission-critical applications, including base station infrastructure for fixed wireless broadband and radio access networks (RAN). Hot swappable, 700-watt power modules offer N+1 redundancy in either 48-, 24- or 12-volt DC outputs. An Intelligent Controller Module with Ethernet and SNMP allows for remote monitoring and control of the system and installed modules. An optional Battery Management Module with single- or dual-string 100-amp breakers and 150-amp Low Voltage Disconnect. An optional Load Distribution Module provides four 20-amp outputs with individual load monitoring and power cycling over Ethernet.

www.ict-power.com

PIM Shield®

ConcealFab

ConcealFab is the leader in developing innovative solutions to mitigate passive intermodulation (PIM) at cell sites. PIM Foil is a new addition to ConcealFab’s PIM Shield® family of products designed to help technicians temporarily isolate PIM near antennas. This tough, yet highly conformable film creates an RF barrier that prevents radiated energy from reaching PIM sources. Once covered, PIM from these sources typically reduces by more than 30 dB. Available in 18-inch and 36-inch wide rolls by 100 FT long, PIM Foil is suitable for covering small objects as well as large areas in front of antennas.

www.concealfab.com

QUINT POWER

Phoenix Contact

QUINT POWER Capacitor and Buffer modules are ideal for applications that are subject to short duration mains interruptions from a few seconds up to an hour, depending on load current. These capacitor-based modules provide an extremely long service life over traditional battery backup solutions. They are maintenance-free, allowing for installation in remote locations without the worry of regular service calls or replacement. Additionally, modules are available with remote connectivity to allow for diagnostics and alarming indications from nearly any location.

www.phoenixcontact.com

Spectrum Compact

SAF

SAF Tehnika expands its Spectrum Compact family of ultra-portable handheld microwave spectrum analyzers with a model that supports 6 GHz – 20 GHz. Providing best-in-class price/performance, the new Spectrum Compact provides laboratory-grade performance and high durability at an affordable price, making it a perfect tool for link planning, installation, site acceptance, maintenance, and troubleshooting of wireless networks. The spectrum analyzer has high sensitivity of -110 dBm at 30 kHz resolution bandwidth, 4-hour battery life, and instant-on functionality for quick start-up and operation. All this high-performance is designed in a rugged, ultra-compact form factor.

www.spectrumcompact.com

RXAC-2M

VoltServer

The RXAC-2M is the latest Digital Electricity™ (DE) Receiver released by VoltServer.  It is the first DE receiver to provide a true sine wave output at 200VAC.  The RXAC-2M delivers up to 1400W of power up to 1,500 feet away using only 16AWG cable.  It enables resilient AC power and facilitates centralized backup to PoE switches, Class 2 hubs, and other loads residing in IT closets.  Using a “UPS 2.0” deployment, business critical devices can be reliably powered and backed up at a lower cost point vs distributed, local UPS.

www.voltserver.com
 

Company Showcase

Engineering Companies

Concordia Group

Since 2001, Concordia’s in-house engineering staff & in-house construction tower/civil crews have been zoning, leasing, permitting, designing, building: Raw lands, colos, rooftops, and small cells. We integrate site acquisition, A&E, and construction.

Mobile Mark Antenna Solutions

Mobile Mark is an established leader in designing and manufacturing highly efficient and customized antenna solutions. Now, Mobile Mark's Engineering Technical Center provides clients access to their fully-equipped Electrical, Mechanical and Environmental testing facilities, including extended Anechoic Chamber, Prototyping Equipment and Custom Manufacturing. In-house engineers provide valuable support and guidance.

P. Marshall and Associates, LLC (PM&A)

PM&A is a national SAQ, multidisciplinary engineering (Civil Structural, Electrical), tower audit and General Contracting firm offering turn-key consulting and construction services to our clients in the communications sector. Small Cell, OSP, Mods, new site builds and data centers— we can deliver it!

Westchester Services L.L.C.

Westchester Services L.L.C. is a national architectural and engineering firm in the wireless industry. Site services performed for macro sites, DAS, small cell, inbuild, microwave, satellite and cell sites.

In This Issue  
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From The Editor

The Future Is so Bright, Ya Gotta Wear Shades

The future of the wireless infrastructure business is bright. It’s the money. Yes, it’s th...
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Power Systems

Careful Design for 5G Cell Site Power Requirements

Mobile network operators (MNOs) need to upgrade their power supplies for both telecoms sit...
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Site Development and Construction

RF Measurement Data Guides Tower Owner Decision-making

Aurora Insight provides data, analytics and insights to the wireless community by collecti...
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Digital Real Estate

How Telecom Towers and Fiber Fit Into a Digital Real Estate World

The way tower companies have been built is with a historic view that they have to dominate...
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5G Edge

The Critical Role Collocation Plays in 5G Edge Computing

The edge can mean different things to different people, according to Ben Green, vice presi...
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Diversity in Wireless

Bob Paige Shares Insights on Management, Diversity and M&A With Lynn Whitcher on AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent.” – Langston Coleman Vertical...
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Business

Crown Castle Ventures into CBRS

The Rudin Family, in collaboration with Crown Castle International, has announced that 345...
 -
Business

Geoverse Brings Power of LTE/5G Private Networks to the City of Tucson

Geoverse, a private cellular network operator, announced it is the managed service partner...
 -
Association News

CCA Presents Excellence in Marketing Awards

The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) has revealed the winners of its 2021 Excellence...
 -
5G Future

Intelligent Connected Machines to Be a Major Part of Life by 2030, Consumers Predict

Consumers expect connected technology to become more flexible and interactive going forwar...