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November 2021

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In This Issue

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From The Editor

Artificial Intelligence for 5G Site Selection

In the next few years, mobile network operators might be using artificial intelligence to ...
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Edge

Market Disparities: Building a Strategy for Digital Edge Empowerment

Whether for business, interpersonal communication, education, health care, precision agric...
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Edge

Taking the Temperature of 5G

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) rec...
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Edge

Edge Computing in the Wireless Infrastructure World

Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of DigitalBridge Group. Edge computing has two aspects and ...
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Private Networks

Expanding Private 5G Networks to Support Intelligent Automation

While public 5G is moving full speed ahead, interest in private 5G networks — and the inno...
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Public Safety Communications

Disruptive Innovation in Public Safety Communication Systems

First responders can experience numerous communications problems when on-site at an emerge...
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Antennas

Choosing the Right Cell Site Antenna Solution

Antennas are the wires of the wireless world. They are the last stop for a signal on its w...
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5G

5G Forges Wider Collaboration, Move to Zero Trust Security

Bryan Kennedy, CommScope Fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications networking technol...
 - Lines interconnecting streetlights represent small cell wireless connectivity among Signify’s connected lighting products as BAI Communications might use them for a neutral-host 5G wireless communications network as part of its concession from Transport for London, a local government body responsible for most of the transport network in London. Source: BAI Communications
AGL Connections

Neutral-host Infrastructure, Small Cells to Underpin Smart City Applications

The partnership is about combining our portfolio of neutral-host facilities and capabiliti...
 - Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, in the London Underground at Westminster. Transport for London awarded BAI Communications a 20-year concession to deliver 5G-ready high-speed mobile coverage across the London Underground, enabling mobile operators to provide coverage with a large, advanced network. Source: BAI Communications
AGL Connections

London Selects BAI Communications for Neutral-host Communications Infrastructure Concession

It’s probably the largest and probably the most advanced infrastructure project of its typ...
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AGL Connections

BAI Communications Grows U.S. Infrastructure Business With Mobilitie Acquisition

Click here to play video. A multinational communications infrastructure company, BAI Commu...
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Camouflage and Concealment

The Small Cell Market, Working with Municipalities and Supporting 5G

Trey Nemeth, Raycap The wireless communications industry is moving toward a small cell t...
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Safety

Keep Out: How to Stop Drugs and Alcohol from Entering in the Workplace

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, drugs and alcohol remain a significant occupational safety ...
 - ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2021) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ashley Pacheco tracks landing craft, air cushion positions using an amphibious assault direction system in the combat information center aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Aug. 10, 2021. Kearsarge is underway to support Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. LSE 2021 merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today's complex, multi-domain, and contested environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick Boris)
5G

Department of Defense Successfully Demonstrates a 5G Network for Smart Warehouses

The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) 5G-to-Next G Initiative (5GI), overseen by the Offi...
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From The Editor

Artificial Intelligence for 5G Site Selection

In the next few years, mobile network operators might be using artificial intelligence to put the right infrastructure in the right place, according to research conducted by Bain & Company. Wireless infrastructure has an important place within the universe of mobile network infrastructure, which also includes a core switched network for voice calls and text, a packet switched network for mobile data and the public switched telephone network to connect subscribers to the wider telephony network. Wireless infrastructure includes the radio base stations, antennas and their support structures, and cables and optical fiber that connect antennas, base stations and network cores.

According to IBM Cloud Education, at its simplest form, artificial intelligence combines computer science and robust datasets to enable problem solving. It also encompasses machine learning and deep learning, which are frequently mentioned in conjunction with artificial intelligence, IBM’s description reads. These disciplines are composed of AI algorithms that seek to create expert systems that make predictions or classifications based on input data, IBM said.

Bain & Company said it expects 5G to enter the mainstream during the next five years, gaining popularity through accelerated deployment by telecommunications companies, affordable handsets and other major uses for the technology. According to its analysis, the firm expects the adoption of 5G to be faster in its first seven years — 2018 to 2025 — than the adoption of 4G in the seven years following its market debut in 2009.

Research from Bain & Company shows that the number of 5G connections worldwide will triple from less than 700 million today to more than 2.1 billion by 2025. The company said that this strong momentum reflects heavy operator investment in 5G infrastructure, a gradual expansion of 5G use cases and a global hunger for data connectivity, which it said has increasingly surged during the pandemic. Yet, despite this insurgence, many telecommunications companies still struggle to reap the full rewards that 5G has to offer, the company said.

Competitive Advantage

A telecommunications company that uses artificial intelligence in its 5G rollout could develop a differentiated capability for putting the right infrastructure in the right place, with surgical precision and at dizzying scale, Bain & Company said.

“For instance, one major return on investment challenge with 5G stems from the spectrum bands that the technology uses,” the company said. “5G's higher-frequency signals do not travel as far or penetrate buildings as well as the lower-frequency signals used by 4G, requiring operators to deploy as many as 100 times the number of cells used by 4G for their 5G services. Artificial intelligence can help solve this engineering conundrum, and one of the sector's toughest challenges, by accelerating decisions from months and weeks to days and minutes, with a precision and scale that exceeds what is humanly possible.”

To what extent artificial intelligence would make decisions on behalf of mobile network operators for site selection speaks to the level of the technology. IBM cites two classifications: weak and strong. Today’s artificial intelligence is called weak, which IBM said is a misnomer — it would be better to call it narrow. Narrow artificial intelligence, IBM said, is the level that enables autonomous vehicles.

Strong artificial intelligence is entirely theoretical with no practical examples in use today, IBM said. It said that one form of strong artificial intelligence would have intelligence equal to humans. This form would have a self-aware consciousness with an ability to solve problems, learn, and plan for the future, IBM said.

Darryn Lowe, a leader in Bain & Company's Communications, Media and Entertainment practice, said that even digitally native telecommunications companies are not immune to the complexities brought by 5G adoption, particularly if they still rely on a labor-intensive workflow.

"In the coming years,” he said, “winning telcos will be operators that use 5G and other high-stakes business areas as a proving ground for the deeper artificial intelligence capabilities they'll need to gain to remain competitive."

Today’s problem would not necessarily be tomorrow’s problem. However, the problem employers face these days in filling job openings might lead to surprising uses of artificial intelligence in the world of deciding where to place 5G wireless infrastructure, from towers to small cells to closely spaced millimeter-wave access points.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher.

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Edge

Market Disparities: Building a Strategy for Digital Edge Empowerment

With today’s technology clearly requiring a more distributed model to the edge, attention on bridging the digital divide is growing. Solutions are being developed, but this challenge needs more work (and financial resources) to make up for lost time.

Whether for business, interpersonal communication, education, health care, precision agriculture or otherwise, technology and connectivity continue to define and redefine our world. Robust, reliable and efficient access to the internet — and to the content and resources to which it plays host — is key for maintaining a competitive edge and ensuring opportunities to thrive for local economic growth and overall quality of life. Today, however, notable inconsistencies in the distribution of digital capabilities affect businesses and individuals everywhere. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, the digital divide grows larger, wreaking havoc on industries and individuals’ ability to learn, grow and prosper across the United States.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its onslaught, shifting the way individuals and businesses interact and pushing the world toward a more digital reality, the need for more robust and reliable communications infrastructure has been heightened. The demands on networks have grown, and the requirements for distance learning, remote workforce enablement, telehealth and beyond have all grown exponentially — meaning that those without high-speed internet access are put at a severe disadvantage. As the gap in communications infrastructure broadens between metropolitan and rural or underserved markets, it is clear that the time to bridge this rift is now. The only question that remains is how to build a strategy that can overcome this challenge and keep these locations on track for stable, continued growth — in a way that makes sense for local businesses.

Understanding the Digital Divide

Since its debut, the internet has continued to evolve, becoming an increasingly central facet of life. The Statista Research Department’s 2020 IoT Connected Devices report forecasts that by 2030, the global number of connected devices will amount to 50 billion. Those devices will be used — and are being used today — to access online banking, distance learning and remote work, to host virtual appointments with doctors, to pay bills, contact emergency services, manage agricultural crops and more. It is difficult to ignore the fundamental importance of connectivity and the key role that access to digital capabilities plays in overall success. Continued digital transformation is accelerating this dependence on technology, making equal, efficient and robust access even more important.

The pandemic heightened the reliance on digital infrastructure because of the implementation of social distancing. This motivated educational institutions to implement remote learning solutions — some for the first time in their histories — while major corporations have extended work-from-home (WFH) policies into the year 2021. These online solutions require trust that individuals can obtain access to the files and perform work tasks over public and private connections. Meanwhile, health care workers, still faced with frontline pandemic responses, are adjusting their practices to support telehealth solutions, diagnosing and treating patients from virtually anywhere. Traditional businesses from restaurants to retail have all pivoted, driving more sales online with no-touch service capabilities, ensuring the safety and welfare of everyone as we keep our economy running.

Unfortunately, while demand for online capabilities has become universal, the natural spread of underlying technology and infrastructure that supports this access has grown more skewed toward central hubs. Although the infrastructural support for metropolitan areas has come naturally because of increasing demand by a more consolidated population, it comes at a cost. That cost is that rural, underserved and lower-income communities increasingly are left behind, despite the fact that their demand is just as important to their lives as it is for those in more central business destinations.

One indication of this systemic issue is that, as of early 2019, Pew Research Center reported that 26 percent of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are “smartphone-dependent” internet users. This means that they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet at home and, as a result, they employ their smartphone for traditional online tasks. In an era of social distancing and quarantine, when 53 percent of Americans are reporting internet use as essential, being unable to access these online tasks reliably or efficiently represents a critical issue.

With the need for ubiquitous digital infrastructure, the level of latency and performance that is now required by adjacent, rural and underserved markets for streaming, mobile demands and content consumption — a level that on par with major markets — is still going largely unconsidered. To address this disparity, many markets still have their local content and applications backhauled to major market hubs. This negatively affects performance, increases costs and drives end-users’ frustrations higher.

Why is the Gap Growing?

The digital divide continues to grow because of a number of factors. To start, large cities and metropolitan areas have high population densities — they’re where the most customers are, where businesses reside and do much of their work and where most infrastructure providers assume the return on investment is the highest. This means that infrastructure providers often see diminished incentives for deploying in these areas and fear they won’t be able to justify the costs for building the necessary foundations. When the initial internet infrastructure was developed, it focused on these core regions to get the most people connected. With the U.S. population becoming increasingly dispersed, these major markets remain the most populated, but the adjacent and rural markets now have populations that rival those of the first internet-connected locations.

Nevertheless, challenges do not arise solely from factors external to the rural market; they also come from the markets themselves. In more remote and underserved areas, it is not uncommon for existing businesses to resist new market entrants. Innovation often looks like disruption, and disruption can cause fear that businesses in the area will not be able to pivot or will be outpaced by new developments. Although understanding the value of enhanced digital capability is not the issue, understanding how that innovation occurs and creating a method that works alongside existing market entities to ease any reservations is key.

In order to continue advancing the digital transformation, traditional transport solutions that rely on major markets must evolve to support a more robust and decentralized IT architecture, meeting the evolving content and application use of a highly distributed user base.

Creating a New Model

With today’s technology clearly requiring a more distributed model to the edge, attention on bridging the digital divide is growing. Solutions are being developed, but this challenge needs more work (and financial resources) to make up for lost time. Furthermore, the approach to addressing these needs in rural and underserved markets cannot be the same approach that has been taken in metropolitan locations — this is a different use case altogether that requires an individualized approach, building the right infrastructure with the right strategy to cultivate long-term growth and success.

To solve content and application latency, efficiency, cost, performance and access challenges, local content and applications need to be kept local. This means that a neutral approach to aggregating networks and driving interconnection at a single strategic location is needed. In metro-adjacent, rural or currently underserved locations especially, access to large data streams must be provisioned in a way that empowers markets through a more widespread distribution model designed to build trust while maintaining critical density for cost and performance efficiency. This model of interconnecting networks to enhance quality and performance is not new — it is just not yet happening at scale in a way that is made for the rural and remote areas where it is needed most.

These new market interconnection points require high levels of flexibility to overcome any deployment challenges — they must be able to be built in a host of different types of locations that suit what is available or what is needed in each market, remaining neutral in every way. They must be designed specifically for local compatibility, remaining free to make use of any real estate type or equipment while enabling any carrier, cloud or content provider to be empowered by reaching the most endpoints through a robust interconnection strategy. At the core of this model is cooperation. Cooperation with and between local entities when building out this infrastructure means the existing businesses and providers are supported, not disrupted, which is key for ensuring full adoption and enduring success in these areas.

Not only will these points keep content and application traffic local (and offer the associated speed, cost reliability and performance benefits), they will create a symbiotic ecosystem for local businesses that goes beyond aggregating existing providers to attract a growing amount of content and applications as the edge point progresses. If cultivated correctly, these interconnection points will only continue to attract more providers and create a host of benefits not only for themselves but also for the wider digital ecosystem, creating self-sufficient, ongoing growth that will level the digital playing field while creating a more robust foundation for the needs of today and tomorrow.

Scott Willis is president and CEO of DartPoints. As a communications industry global technology leader, he has a record of accomplishment of building successful businesses for both large and small organizations to a significant scale. He has extensive leadership experience transforming organizations, setting strategic direction, overseeing complex operations and confecting corporate alliances while delivering growth and profitability to the business.

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Edge

Taking the Temperature of 5G

Thermal management is becoming increasingly important to ensuring availability of micro-edge computing sites as 5G applications become more common and more sophisticated.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends air temperatures in IT environments fall between 64.4 and 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 27 degrees Celsius). Those numbers have crept up over the years, with data center employees and service technicians increasingly eschewing jackets for short sleeves, and CIOs welcoming the effect on their electric bills.

Still, the safe operating temperatures for IT equipment are a far cry from what’s common in many telecommunications deployments. Traditional telecom equipment must function in environments prone to extremes, with temperatures in excess of 100°F or far below freezing not uncommon. Telco equipment is built to withstand temperatures up to 131°F (55°C) or higher.

Telecom environments also lack the intense heat-generating servers at the heart of the data center, so cooling is focused more on protection from outside heat sources than on rejecting heat from the equipment. Shelters and enclosures are the tools of the trade, not the precision cooling systems used in the data center. With the advent of 5G wireless communications, however, telcos' thermal profile is changing, and the toolbox is expanding.

5G Warming Up the Cooling Conversation

Global mobile data traffic is expected to increase fourfold by 2025, with network energy consumption trending up by 150 to 170 percent, all due to the widespread implementation of 5G. 451 Research calls 5G “the most impactful and difficult network upgrade ever faced by the telecom industry,” with good reason. 5G isn’t the latest refinement of the traditional cellular network; it’s something new entirely.

5G applications require low-latency computing, which means IT systems are being introduced into the telecom space to be closer to the consumer. Suddenly, the sensitive electronics in those IT servers, designed to operate at no more than 80.6°F, are being deployed en masse to new and existing sites across the telecom network. That includes exchange sites at the core and traditional access spaces and cell sites, where thermal management was often an afterthought.

The transformation of those exchange sites from what used to be called central offices to what now can be characterized more accurately as edge data centers is well underway. The effect on the thermal profile is profound. These facilities now house racks of servers and associated IT equipment, all of it producing hot air that must be managed. But even that oversimplifies the emerging architectures in these exchange sites. In most cases, the equipment footprint is shrinking – those racks typically take up less space than all the switching equipment housed in an old central office – and the unused space factors into the cooling strategy almost as much as the used.

Rack Density and Cooling the Exchange Site

In many cases, exchange sites have enough cooling capacity in terms of BTUs in their basic HVAC systems, but that cool air is being blown into a large, mostly empty space and not reaching the IT equipment it needs to cool. Operators could blow more, colder air at the problem, but that’s massively inefficient and, when repeated across hundreds or even thousands of sites in a network, it makes energy costs (and carbon emissions) unsustainable.

Instead, data center cooling solutions are making their way into exchange sites. These can be in-row cooling solutions, rear-door cooling systems or fully integrated systems that can use contained hot or cold aisles to maximize cooling efficiency. Integrated systems are a popular choice, enabling not just efficient cooling, but effective use of space and easy, modular capacity increases. They provide other benefits as well, such as integrated fire suppression.

Because these facilities are larger than currently needed for these IT systems, rack densities typically are relatively low. For that reason, the high-density cooling solutions becoming more prevalent in the data center – including liquid cooling, which is designed for racks at 15 kilowatts and above – are not yet a significant factor in today’s exchange sites. As network computing demands increase and as more equipment is packed into these spaces, that design is most likely to change. Already, expectations for cooling efficiency are moving past industry norms of 95 to 96 percent and into the 97 to 98 percent range, and nothing is more efficient than liquid cooling.

Thermal Management in the Access Space

5G is pushing IT equipment into the access space as well, although these sites typically rely on a single server to handle the necessary computing. That puts a premium on small enclosures and cabinets that typically have built-in cooling capabilities. In mild environments, with clean outside air, those cabinets may use that outside air for cooling. Elsewhere, the cabinets and cooling systems must be more robust, producing cool, dry, clean air for the server intake.

As 5G applications become more common and more sophisticated, the criticality of these micro-edge computing sites will increase. Thermal management will become increasingly important to ensuring the availability of these sites, as will remote management of those cooling systems. With 5G driving an inevitable spike in energy consumption, operators will seek out efficiency and cost savings wherever possible. Advanced thermal controls that turn cooling on or off depending on inlet temperatures offer significant savings opportunities when scaled up for the thousands of access sites in a typical network.

Bottom Line

5G requires an influx of computing equipment across the network – equipment that both produces heat and that is far more sensitive to heat than traditional telecom gear. Operators are responding with new approaches to thermal management at their sites, including data center-like cooling strategies in their exchange sites and more sophisticated cooling systems and management in the access space.

The urgency here is twofold. First, a failure to adequately cool these systems will result in network outages, and second, failure to do it efficiently will add to already skyrocketing electric bills.

David Michlovic is America’s Offering director at Vertiv and has been with the organization more than 15 years. In this role, he supports Vertiv’s telecommunications business and its DC power portfolio. At Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power, Michlovic has filled several roles with increasing responsibilities in product design and engineering, followed by product management ownership for a variety of product lines. His responsibilities cover the DC power and outside plant portfolio for Vertiv Americas. Michlovic received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio University and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University.

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Edge

Edge Computing in the Wireless Infrastructure World

Three layers of edge computing — main edge, mid-range edge and micro edge — give customers the low latency and high bandwidth their networks require.

Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of DigitalBridge Group.Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of DigitalBridge Group.

Edge computing has two aspects and three sizes, according to Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of DigitalBridge Group, which has 23 portfolio companies, including several that are involved with edge computing. According to American web infrastructure and security company Cloudfare, edge computing optimizes internet devices and web applications by bringing computing closer to the source of the data. Edge computing minimizes the need for long-distance communications between client and server, which reduces latency and bandwidth use, as stated by Cloudfare.

Within the DigitalBridge portfolio, companies that provide data centers, optical fiber connectivity, macro cell towers and edge infrastructure have roles to play in edge computing.

Of the two aspects of edge computing, Ganzi said, one is the physical aspect of where infrastructure sits. The second part, he said, is the experience, how the customer ultimately participates in a low-latency environment and how its applications work. He said the two functions are consumer and geography.

Edge Infrastructure Layers

“Let's start with geography,” Ganzi said, in speaking about edge computing with Matt Niknam, director of equity research and communications infrastructure analyst at Deutsche Bank, during the bank’s 29th annual Leveraged Finance Conference on Oct. 4. “Geography is pretty easy to understand, because there are three layers to edge infrastructure: main edge workloads, mid-range and micro edge,” he said.

Matt Niknam,Deutsche BankMatt Niknam, director of equity research and communications infrastructure analyst at Deutsche Bank.

“Main edge workloads are secondary and tertiary markets, where you're not in a primary hyperscale market, as in Ashburn, Virginia; or Goodyear, Arizona; or some of the other big areas such as Atlanta, where you have massive, hundreds of megawatts of power and compute,” Ganzi said. “And then you go to you go outside of that for what's happening in markets like Salt Lake City; Austin, Texas; Cleveland; and Minneapolis. These are good edge markets.”

The main edge workloads, Ganzi said, range from half-megawatt to 4-megawatt workloads in secondary and tertiary markets. He said that one of DigitalBridge’s portfolio companies, Databank, is providing such service every day. He said that Databank is delivering and fulfilling the main edge workload need for hyperscalers as they continue to deploy and densify their infrastructure in secondary and tertiary markets. According to manufacturer NAI Group, a hyperscaler is a data center that can add or reduce computing power quickly and cost-effectively. Market research firm International Data Corporation defines hyperscale computing as exceeding 5,000 servers and 10,000 square feet.

According to Ganzi, mid-range edge computing are special, purpose-built data centers between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet that most often are built in suburban locations. He gave as an example Somerset, New Jersey, that he said is neither a secondary nor a tertiary market. “That's a suburb of New York,” he said.

In such suburban locations, Ganzi said, “you'll have either a repurposed central office or a small data center. In there, you'll have aggregation points of radios; you'll have a small presence from the cloud players — maybe two to three racks — and then you'll have adjacent content players there. That's what I would call a true edge out workload, where you're out in the suburbs and you're trying to execute the main thesis of their business plan, which is to increase the throughput out to the suburbs, but reduce latency.”

The third layer to edge computing in the aspect of geography, Ganzi said, is the micro edge. He said DigitalBridge supplies micro edge computing through its portfolio company EdgePresence. DigitalBridge made its investment in EdgePresence through Databank. He described EdgePresence managers as great entrepreneurs.

Micro Edge

“They really understand the business,” Ganzi said. “We have 12 micro edge locations, most of them at Vertical Bridge towers. We built at a couple at other towercos’ sites.”

EdgePresence housed the micro data centers in repurposed intermodal shipping containers, Ganzi said.

“We have anywhere from 10 to 20 racks in those containers,” he said. “We're getting lease rates that are effectively a half of a broadband equivalent (BBE) for a rack. We're leasing compute space at the base of cell towers.”

Ganzi said he wanted to be clear with investors, so he emphasized that placing edge micro centers would not happen at every cell tower.

“You don't need an edge data center at the bottom of every cell tower,” he said. “You probably need one at one out of 100. We started trial testing this in Atlanta.” Ganzi said that Atlanta was a test market for the EdgePresence micro data centers.

“What's great is that we're doing all three,” Ganzi said, referring to the three layers of edge computing. He said that another DigitalBridge portfolio company, AtlasEdge Data Centres, in Europe, is using many previous Liberty Global central offices in a project to run more than 100 edge data centers on the continent. “We're renovating them, putting in edge infrastructure,” he said.

Databank is doing massive edge workloads in places such as places like Bluffdale, Utah; Overland Park, Kansas; and Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Ganzi said. “Then, in Atlanta with EdgePresence, we're building micro data centers,” he said.

“So, the three layers, right?” Ganzi said. “You go way out to a half-megawatt to 4 megawatts, then you get into a zone with 10 to 20 racks, and then you get to the micro edge, which is literally a couple of racks that are based at the tower. The network begins to move out, but you can take the network down to a very surgical level and deliver edge computing.”

In explaining that the objective is all about what the customer wants, Ganzi said that the customers in this instance are Amazon, Microsoft and Google. In addition, he said customers in the United States include the four major mobile carriers. More customers include the internet-of-things players, he said.

“It's trying to make sure that we're delivering a high-powered high compute experience on the periphery of the network, ultimately, to serve consumers,” Ganzi said. “This is totally consumer-facing, because most of the edge compute in an enterprise environment is going to happen in the bottoms of office buildings where we build out small edge data centers in the basements of office buildings as we light up enterprise CBRS.”

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

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Private Networks

Expanding Private 5G Networks to Support Intelligent Automation

Propagation modeling and packet monitoring are key to success.

While public 5G is moving full speed ahead, interest in private 5G networks — and the innovation they can enable — is likewise gaining steam, with some of the world’s largest organizations rolling out ultrafast networks. From factory-floor production line automation to artificial intelligence–enabled preventive maintenance, many enterprise-level organizations see the growing justification for building new industrial networks that are private, secure, reliable and incredibly fast. Finnish equipment maker Nokia is counting on it. Iain Morris, writing for Light Reading, reported that Nokia estimates the number of base stations for private wireless networks could eventually double those dedicated to public mobile networks.

For example, the world’s oldest automotive manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, recently became the first to embrace 5G, according to Jörg Burzer, a member of the divisional board of management for production and supply chain at Mercedes-Benz Cars. To build out a custom 5G network at one of its manufacturing facilities in Germany, the global auto giant partnered with telecommunications company Telefónica Deutschland and network supplier Ericsson to link its production systems and machines to support greater automation, creating a new model for its other plants.

The U.S. Department of Defense, in a June 8 news release, disclosed its construction of a $90 million prototype smart warehouse as part of its 5G-to-Next G initiative. The prototype facility will boast a network with 1.5 Gbps download speeds and latency of 15 milliseconds, designed to deliver significant enhancements in the operation of autonomous vehicles for inventory management, machine learning for inventory tracking, and augmented and virtual reality applications for improved workforce efficiency in warehouse operations.

Private adoption of 5G is gaining momentum, but it hasn’t yet reached global scale. To do so, enterprises need to determine whether they will build the networks themselves or work with an outside supplier, understand how they will engineer their network to ensure optimum coverage, and consider how they will monitor the network to ensure effective and efficient operations and maintenance.

Planning and Visibility: How Enterprises Can Scale Private 5G

Enterprises have options when it comes to adopting 5G networks. One option is to can negotiate service level agreements (SLAs) with carriers to provide guaranteed coverage areas and network attributes via network slicing, which some companies may prefer as a means to minimize capital expenditures. Under this structure, enterprises can further choose between processing their own data onsite or turning to carriers such as Verizon for mobile edge computing as a managed service, enabled thanks to Verizon’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Alternatively, enterprises may choose to build their own customized, fully managed 5G networks using in-house resources, often prioritizing features such as low latency and high availability. These private 5G networks can offer greater flexibility and customization along a dedicated spectrum, greater data privacy and security, and tightened control over connected internet of things (IoT) devices and network resources.

Whether outsourcing development to a vendor or owning this function in-house, accurate modeling during the planning phase is critical. Calibrated or tuned radio-frequency (RF) propagation models characterize the path loss from a transmitter to any given location, supporting RF planning tools used to design and optimize 5G networks. By using calibrated models as a basis for developing a new site plan or optimizing an existing cluster of sites once a network is set up, RF engineers can determine effective site settings and anticipate potential challenges that may incur additional costs in time and expenses.

As enterprises scale up their 5G deployments, they need pervasive network visibility to validate these models. Network and operations teams must ensure that real-world coverage and performance match propagation models while meeting strict security standards.

Monitoring packet data is the best way to gain this level of visibility. Packet data is vendor-independent, universally available and carries all the contextual and relevant information about connected devices and their applications. With packet monitoring, every device-to-device or device-to-application transaction leaves a footprint on the network that can be analyzed for service performance issues and security-related threats. Packet data-driven visibility is the most reliable way to validate network reliability and application performance and allows engineers to optimize their networks to support intelligent automation.

Delivering 5G Service Assurance

With an increasing volume of IoT devices and the distributed nature of edge networks, enterprises must consider a real-time monitoring strategy to support 5G-enabled services. Smart data and the unparalleled visibility it offers helps organizations validate 5G models and continuously optimize network performance in response to traffic fluctuations, enabling a new level of orchestration and automation.

The global private wireless networking space is maturing fast, both publicly and behind the scenes. Regardless of the path an organization takes in its rollout of 5G, accurate planning and visibility determine success, with propagation modeling and packet monitoring proving central to scaling private 5G networks with confidence.

John English is a senior marketing manager working on service provider solutions at NetScout Systems focusing on network functions virtualization, software-defined networks, internet of things, digital transformation, big data analytics and 5G wireless communications. Visit www.netscout.com

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Public Safety Communications

Disruptive Innovation in Public Safety Communication Systems

Intelligent, automated setting of the uplink transmit power and calculation and setting of isolation and downlink gain have become available for Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems.

First responders can experience numerous communications problems when on-site at an emergency. Because these breakdowns in communications can result in loss of property and life, technology innovation is vital when it comes to public safety equipment that resolves these communication problems.

Legacy public safety equipment typically uses wideband, bidirectional antennas to send and receive signals broadcast from the high site, which is the remote land mobile radio (LMR) network tower, so emergency responders can talk with the command post and each other. However, wideband antennas are designed to pick up any radio spectrum, including bands that do not carry emergency communications, a result that often results in distorted, muffled or interrupted communication on the radios used by emergency responders.

Image of a A Nextivity talk-out test.A Nextivity talk-out test.

Another frequent problem involves incorrect calculations of the transmit power for LMR signals to the high site. If the transmit power is set too low, the signal will not reach the high site, and communication will not be established. If the transmit power is set too high and the signal reaches the high site with too much power, the high site will protect itself, even to the point of bringing it down. Calculating transmit power is complicated – it could take an experienced engineer or technician as long as four to eight hours to calculate – and often human errors enter the equations. In addition, it is not uncommon for environmental conditions to change after the system is installed, such as a repositioned high-site antenna or new construction between the high site and the building, which would require recalculation.

Because several antennas are needed at a building to receive and redistribute the radio signal throughout the building , signals from the donor and server antennas can interfere with each, other causing problems such as echoing and feedback. To prevent the interference, the minimum isolation separation required between the signals is 20 dB per code. Calculations must be done to set the system manually correctly for this isolation. Then, anytime the environment changes, such as someone opening a door or window that lets a bit of signal leak out to reach the donor antenna, or renovations take place inside the building, the isolation number can change. If it does, the system must be reset manually. This potential for changes to cause interference takes constant diligence and can require repeated truck rolls to ensure that the system remains ready for any emergency.

In addition, because of the normal fluctuations of any environment, signal power inside the building can fluctuate and affect communications. Not all emergency-responder systems are created equal. Some take longer to adjust to the changes and, thus, are slower to restore clear communication.

As authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) or fire marshals often require the installation of an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES) before they will issue a certificate of occupancy, building owners understandably want the systems installed to be brought up to code as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, slow installs — with some taking months – are a common problem, because of the type of technology deployed or, even worse, test readings on coverage levels not meeting code after the system has been deployed.

All of these difficulties have been addressed by innovations in public safety equipment.

Innovations That Make a Difference Intelligent, automated setting of the uplink transmit power and calculation and setting of isolation and downlink gain have become available in ERCES networks, such as Cel-Fi’s Quatra Red in-building public safety communication systems, eliminating the time it takes for manual calculations and the potential for human errors.

Faster microprocessors have been installed in these innovative systems, so processing takes place in a fraction of a second — less than the 1.2 microseconds between frames that LMR radios use to transmit. This fast processing makes response instantaneous — one radio keys up and sends a signal, while the second radio also keys up and sends a signal almost at the same time with the correct amount of attenuation or gain automatically reaching the high site with the correct transmit power. This automatic adjustment guarantees that the communication channel will be available, regardless of when or where the communication needs to be established.

Image of a Nextivity grid test on a smartphone.A Nextivity grid test.

Built-in grid test functionality that generates a full signal report represents an innovation that can make a significant difference in how rapidly a certificate of occupancy is issued. This signal report data traditionally only has been available for integrators with access to expensive equipment that costs as much as $35,000 or when the authority having jurisdiction does a walk-through test. If the system fails the AHJ walk-through test, repeat tests must be scheduled until the system passes, delaying the issuance of the certificate of occupancy and adding additional cost. With built-in grid test functionality, system integrators can ensure the system is performing up to code and make any adjustments needed before the scheduling the AHJ’s walk-through test.

Another essential innovation, built-in end-to-end remote monitoring and management, allows for customized, real-time monitoring of the high site-to-server antenna , as well as notifications that help ensure the system is operating up to code — without necessitating a truck roll.

It is important that system integrators become aware of these innovations to facilitate performing comprehensive due diligence when advising building owners about the best public safety solution for their facilities. After all, this is about saving lives.

Victor Mejia is a product manager at Nextivity who specializes in deploying indoor commercial cellular and public safety networks. During the past 20 years, he has led DAS and RF network engineering projects for Comba Telecom, Huawei, Ericsson, Motorola, Nextel, Telcel, AT&T, Verizon and American Tower. Email [email protected], or visit www.cel-fi-com.

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Antennas

Choosing the Right Cell Site Antenna Solution

Antennas are the wires of the wireless world. They are the last stop for a signal on its way from a transmitter and the point of entry for a signal coming home to a receiver. A wireless network can be built with the world’s latest high-performance radio technology and best fiber-optic backbone, but the network will only perform as well as the antennas used to send and receive the signals from the radio. A poor-quality, poor-performing antenna will cripple overall performance and bring the high-performance radios to their knees. Without good antennas, wireless is just less.

However, not all antennas are created equal. The right antenna can make the difference between a wireless system that delivers on expectations and one that falls flat. When designing any wireless system, the antennas must be carefully chosen to fulfill system requirements and the demands of end users. Many additional factors must also be considered, from RF performance to installation requirements to site aesthetics to total cost of ownership.

In this report, we examine a few site antenna solutions, with a primary focus on small cell site antennas including canister antennas and RF lens multibeam antennas. Before we begin that discussion, we examine the differences between macro cells and small cells and what those differences mean when selecting antennas.

Macro Cells and Small Cells

Cell sites can be broadly categorized in two ways: macro cells, the conventional cells that encompass a relatively large area (on the order of miles); and small cells, a more recent approach to wireless coverage that encompasses a much tinier area (less than a mile). Small cells serve to make a given network denser, filling in the gaps between the larger macro cells to extend coverage or increase capacity. Although all small cells accomplish this goal, there are many different categories of small cells depending on their specific function.

One common category of small cells is a distributed antenna system (DAS), which can refer more specifically to indoor and outdoor distributed antenna systems (iDAS and oDAS, respectively). These systems have become indispensable facets of our modern built environment. Distributed antenna systems are found in apartment buildings, offices, airports, train stations, stadiums, hotels, restaurants and many more locations in order to add cellular capacity and ensure sufficient coverage for dense and populous hotspots. DAS solutions can be passive, active, analog, digital or a hybrid of the three and are designed specifically for a given space with known requirements.

Outside of iDAS and oDAS solutions, other categories of small cells complement macro cells more generally in order to densify a network. These types of small cells are often subdivided based on their size and target user, and common terms for these cells include microcell, metrocell, picocell and femtocell, in descending order of area, power level and number of users.

Small cells are becoming increasingly important as wireless frequencies increase — the millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequencies deployed in 5G wireless communications and even higher frequencies slated for future standards cannot propagate as far as the lower-frequency signals common in today’s standards, though they can dramatically improve data throughput. To take advantage of such signals, it is therefore necessary to increase the number of cell sites, with each one of these small cells being closer in proximity to the end user than a conventional macro cell.

Distance between cell sites aside, small cells have several important differences from macro cells that affect the choice of antennas. For one thing, small cell sites are often placed in residential areas, which means they are constrained in both size and aesthetics. The large and looming macro cell towers on the outskirts of a town are not quite as appealing in the middle of a suburb. For this reason, small cell sites are often designed to be unobtrusive, in some cases even disguised. Some of the clever ways that wireless operators disguise small cells are by building them into fake trees, church towers or steeples, and even small decorative streetlight poles. The unsuspecting resident is none the wiser, and nevertheless enjoys the benefits of a robust and dense wireless network. If you have ever seen a fake palm tree with antennas sticking out of it, you have seen one of these small cell sites.

Power is another difference between macro and small cells. Macro cells aim to send signals far and wide for a mile or more, and small cells by design are much more limited in range — from about a mile at the largest to a few tens of feet at the smallest. Thus, the transmit power at each cell site can differ greatly. Even among small cells, the power level can range from 20 watts in an outdoor DAS to less than a tenth of a watt in the smallest femtocell.

For both macro and small cells, it is important to ensure the right amount of coverage for the cell. Too short a range and a cell may not be fully covered; too long a range and you may interfere with a neighbouring cell. It is therefore crucial to understand an antenna’s propagation characteristics and ensure it covers the correct area.

Site Antenna Considerations

Antennas must always contend with trade-offs among size, directionality, gain, interference, frequency and other system characteristics. For both macro and small cells, these trade-offs must be optimized to provide clean, comprehensive coverage.

For one thing, it is important to ensure that antenna beam patterns are directed properly toward the cell. The antennas must encompass the entire cell while not overreaching and interfering with neighbouring cells. Electrical or mechanical beam tilt can ensure that the cell coverage is properly bounded, and techniques such as beam steering can provide further control over the radiation pattern when necessary. To cover the full cell area, there must be multiple independent beams, and the beam patterns must be clean with minimal side lobes, musts have high isolation between beams and must offer an industry-leading sector power ratio, which is a measurement of wasted energy found inside lobes compared with the main coverage beam.

Cell site antennas must also account for the different frequencies and wireless services that may be required in a given cell. Cell providers may own and operate their own cell towers and antennas, or they may share towers with other operators, resulting in several different sets of antennas operating in different parts of the spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed. Frequency bands can encompass wireless standards such as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and, increasingly, 5G. As wireless standards continue to evolve into 6G and further, cell site antenna coverage must keep up as well.

Other important factors to consider for site antennas are their structural integrity and installation requirements. Antennas high up on macro cell site towers may be exposed to strong winds and other damaging elements, such as ice loading and constant vibration. Together with their radomes, antennas must be resistant to these environmental conditions while remaining light and accessible for installation and maintenance. Similarly, antennas should be concealed, when possible, especially in small cells and in highly populated environments. The appearance of antennas should be customizable based on the surroundings or brand identity of the provider, which may wish to minimize the visual effect or perhaps add a logo to their wireless infrastructure.

Canister Antennas

A popular type of antenna for small cell sites is called a canister antenna, named for its characteristically slim, cylindrical appearance. The singular name canister antenna is slightly misleading, because canister antennas actually package multiple antennas into a single container. In this way, canister antennas allow for sufficient wireless coverage and capacity while minimizing both visual appearance and installation requirements. Canister antennas are an ideal fit for small cell sites on light poles, power poles, roofs and other existing urban infrastructure.

Because small cells are placed close together and often in noisy RF environments, it is important to ensure that canister antennas are not subject to high amounts of interference. To this end, always look for canister antennas with low passive intermodulation (PIM) interference characteristics. Gammu Nu is a provider of site antenna solutions, including canister antennas, that are specifically designed to minimize both PIM and voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) losses while maximizing gain and performance. Gammu Nu’s antennas are tested to provide PIM values less than 153 dBc and a VSWR below 1.3:1.

Gamma Nu’s canister antenna portfolio includes 14 distinct antennas across multiple frequency bands, with varying gain. The Pico or MESO canisters antennas can be customized per carrier for their specific frequency range/requirements.

Gamma Nu Street Small Cell Canister Panel Antenna IllustrationGamma Nu Street Small Cell Canister Panel Antenna Illustration

The Pico antennas are as slim as (7.9 inches in diameter), small (as short as 23.6 inches in height), lightweight (starting at 12 pounds) and strong (with a rated survival wind speed of 150 miles per hour). The MESO canister antennas are 14 inches to 16 inches in diameter, 0.6 meters to 4 meters in height and strong, with a rated survival wind speed of 150 miles per hour. Some of the company’s canister antennas include remote a electrical tilting (RET) device, allowing operators to remotely adjust down-tilt independently per sector.

Because canister antennas contain a full complement of radiating elements inside a slim and subtle housing, they are an easy and appealing solution for quick small cell deployments. They can provide 360-degree coverage for adding dedicated cell capacity to busy metropolitan locations such as airports, malls and plazas. Small cell canister antennas also can provide an easy way to extend network coverage without requiring the cost and time needed to build a macro cell tower.

RF Lens Multibeam Antennas

For larger cell cites demanding higher gain signals than those available from canister antennas, a type of technology called a radio-frequency (RF) lens may be appropriate. As does a lens in a magnifying glass that bends optical light, an RF lens bends radio waves in such a way as to shape the desired antenna signal. A popular example is the so-called Luneburg lens, a sphere with variable dielectric properties specifically formulated to focus a planar wave to a single point — or, conversely, to collimate a point source into a directional wave front. Because the Luneburg lens is spherically symmetric, multiple antennas can be placed around the surface of such a lens to create multiple independent beams focused in different directions. Antenna provider MatSing, the global leader in RF lens technology, provides multibeam antennas for a variety of cell site applications. RF lenses can vary significantly in size, with the biggest lenses measuring as many as 5 meters across. Lenses of this size are not practical for the constrained spaces and low profiles of many small cells, but instead are designed to provide exceptional multibeam performance for high-capacity venues such as outdoor concerts, stadiums, arenas and downtown urban cores. For a closer alternative to canister antennas, RF lens technology can be minimized to provide high-performance and high-capacity multibeam antennas in a smaller form factor.

RF lens multibeam antennas such as those provided by MatSing offer several benefits for cell sites. The properties of the lenses allow for multiple independent beams with high isolation among them and low passive intermodulation interference (less than 153 dBc). As with canister antennas, RF multibeam lens antennas enable coverage of multiple bands in one package. MatSing’s multibeam antennas provide the world’s cleanest beam patterns and offer individual beam-tilt adjustment, enabling wireless operators to focus the beam exactly where the coverage is needed. The antennas are light in weight and structurally strong, allowing for easy installation and operation in harsh conditions. However, unlike canister antennas, RF lens multibeam antennas do not provide 360 degrees of coverage in a single package. MatSing’s multibeam base station antennas, for example, provides 120 degrees per band across as many as to seven bands.

The Increasing Importance of Small Cell Site Antennas

As 5G wireless communications continues to gain prominence across the globe, the demand for small cells and the antennas that serve them will only increase. Not only is a smaller cell size better suited to the higher mmWave frequencies employed in 5G, but also the comparatively easy rollout and lower cost of small cells compared to macro cells is becoming increasingly apparent. Small cells provide a convenient means of increasing cell capacity, filling gaps between macro cells and expanding network coverage. To do so effectively, the proper antennas solutions must be deployed.

In this report, we discussed several considerations for proper antenna solutions, from performance characteristics to aesthetics. For small cells, canister antennas and RF lens multibeam antennas are both high-performing options that provide clean, broadband coverage in a single unobtrusive package.

As wireless standards evolve from mmWave into even higher frequencies (the terahertz range is under serious consideration for 6G networks, for example), small cell antennas will become an even more important component of urban infrastructure and, without exaggeration, a crucial enabler of our everyday lives. Cell sites that anticipate this growing importance will be poised to succeed as wireless technology continues to progress.

A Gap Wireless Report

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Tower of the Month

Site Location: Waconia, Minnesota

Site Manager: American Tower

Site Owner: Verizon Wireless

Height: 490 feet

Year Constructed: 1989

Photography by Jim Teske

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5G

5G Forges Wider Collaboration, Move to Zero Trust Security

5G networking promises high bandwidth and low latency, offering government and defense agencies the ability to transfer massive amounts of data, with greater speed across wired and wireless networks. Government and industry stakeholders collaborate in uni

Bryan Kennedy, CommScopeBryan Kennedy, CommScope

Fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications networking technology is prompting the convergence of different types of technologies — infrastructure, applications and telecommunications – all onto a single platform. As a result, stakeholders across government and industry are coming together in unique ways to solve the implementation and security challenges, according to top government executives at the forefront of 5G adoption.

“We haven’t had something that has challenged our cultures to come together in such a way,” said Dwayne Florenzie, senior strategy executive in the U.S. Air Force Office of Commercial & Economic Analysis.

5G combines information technology and operational technology, forcing defense industries to collaborate closer with one another, as well as government.

“These industries have operated as separate cultures and separate security protocols,” Florenzie said. “5G is forcing all of us to come together in unique ways that is healthy and has a huge benefit much broader than 5G itself.”

Florenzie contributed his insights on 5G rollout within the Air Force — along with a number of other subject matter experts — during a webinar “5G Strategies in Government 2021 Progress & Best Practices,” a part of Federal News Network’s Federal Executive Forum series. I was also a member of the panel discussion. Fifth-generation or 5G networking promises high-bandwidth and low latency, offering government and defense agencies the ability to transfer massive amounts of data, with greater speed across wired and wireless networks.

The DoD is heavily involved in investigating how 5G technology will best serve command operations and the warfighter. Experimentation is ongoing at 12 military installations across the United States. Test beds at the installations include the evaluation of ship-wide and pier connectivity, the enhancement of aircraft mission readiness, augmented reality support of maintenance and training, and wireless connectivity for forward operating bases and tactical operations centers, to name a few.

Marine Corp Air Station Miramar is the first U.S. military base to test a commercial 5G Ultra Wideband service, said Bryan Schromsky, Verizon’s director of federal mobile and connected solutions, during the webinar. The Marine Corps is exploring how 5G can transform communications, energy management, connected vehicles, drones, and base security.

Zero Trust: A Top Priority

The U.S Army is evaluating the use of 5G at command posts, where there is a conglomeration of systems — logistics, fire control, personnel systems — that must come together in real time to give commanders situational awareness, according to Maj. Gen. Matthew Easley, director of cybersecurity in the Office of the Army Chief Information Officer, who was also part of the roundtable. The addition of robotic ground and aerial systems bring even more complexity to the network.

“There is a lot of work we have to do to make systems talk to each other,” Easley said. “We see Zero Trust as the way to go to dynamically switch between the military provided network and commercial networks. So, when the soldier has a 5G endpoint it will find the best route to send data to the system.”

Bryan Wenger, a 5G solutions architect with cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks, said his company is developing a Zero Trust approach that is specific to 5G networking.

“Zero Trust is about contextual information driving access for the user, network devices or the massive internet of things devices connecting to networks,” Wenger said. As a result, he said, Palo Alto Networks is looking at “how can we grab contextual information that is relevant for 5G-like subscriber IDs and network slice IDs, and apply access, rights, network functions and policies based off of that, instead of relying on legacy technologies such as IP (addresses) or usernames.”

Supply Chain Risk

5G will bring better connectivity to the government workforce, especially as more people work from home, but the risk is an increase in the attack surface malicious actors can exploit — 5G is dynamic, said Dan Dagher, who is the supply chain risk management initiative lead at the National Risk Center in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Threat actors are trying to influence the design of 5G through international standards. In addition, Dagher said, “we are seeing how leveraging legacy infrastructure and untrusted components brings its own set of vulnerabilities. Furthermore, he said, “we are learning limited competition in the 5G marketplace results in more proprietary solutions from untrusted vendors.”

CISA focuses on secure and resilient 5G implementations worldwide. “Secure and resilient is key,” Dagher said, “and that is where we are trying to take our region and the rest of the world.” CISA will keep information sharing going, building on collaboration with international partners and throughout federal, state, local and tribal government. Industry will need to improve software supply chain for 5G. Prime contractors, software developers and vendors need greater visibility into their software, he said. The government won’t get there this year, because implementing 5G is a journey, Dagher added.

5G Is an Evolution

5G is an evolution, not a revolution. 5G will stabilize, but the 4G backbone will be around for a long time to come.

We need to evaluate current infrastructure and its support capabilities and implement appropriate upgrades. Although the development of other wireless technologies occurred in phases, 5G seems to be happening in parallel. Virtualization and the move to the cloud adds more complexity to 5G. Therefore, government and the private sector need solutions that help today, but that are forward-looking enough to address the challenges of tomorrow.

Bryan Kennedy is director of sales for key account management at CommScope. Republished with permission from CommScope Blog.

 - Lines interconnecting streetlights represent small cell wireless connectivity among Signify’s connected lighting products as BAI Communications might use them for a neutral-host 5G wireless communications network as part of its concession from Transport for London, a local government body responsible for most of the transport network in London. Source: BAI Communications
Lines interconnecting streetlights represent small cell wireless connectivity among Signify’s connected lighting products as BAI Communications might use them for a neutral-host 5G wireless communications network as part of its concession from Transport for London, a local government body responsible for most of the transport network in London. Source: BAI Communications
AGL Connections

Neutral-host Infrastructure, Small Cells to Underpin Smart City Applications

Part 1 — BAI Communications, already deep in providing neutral-host infrastructure, received a boost through a partnership with Signify that provides light poles for shared small cells.

Igor LeprinceThe partnership is about combining our portfolio of neutral-host facilities and capabilities with Signify’s innovative portfolio in connected lighting.— Igor Leprince, group CEO of BAI Communications, about the company’s partnership with Signify

Smart city applications rely on a highly robust communications network, and BAI Communications intends to provide such a network at scale to support the next-generation connectivity and smart city development, according to the company’s group CEO, Igor Leprince. Speaking with AGL Magazine during an interview, Leprince said that neutral-host infrastructure and small cells would complement 5G wireless communications and associated technologies, such as analytics.

“A smart community can be a high street in a city where you’re putting together a set of local businesses to have connectivity, deliver services in a way that helps that certain municipality and improves the citizen services and the associated social and economic care,” Leprince said. “That’s the way we define a smart community.”

Municipalities partner with companies such as BAI Communications to provide neutral-host infrastructure, Leprince said.

“We have a big role to play in supporting these public-private enterprises, establishing smart communities among organizations and campuses and contributing to smart city development in a meaningful way,” he said. Small cell technology is an important factor in the 5G wireless communications story, Leprince said. He said that shared infrastructure for small cells is poised to accelerate in the coming year.

“No doubt about that, in an increasingly growing number,” he said. “A Small Cell Forum report said that neutral hosts are expected to account for 30 percent of new deployment of small cell infrastructure by 2026, and 20 percent of the inside wireless. It’s a huge increase from the current level.”

A company with communications infrastructure assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong, BAI Communications has taken steps to grow its business. Two of those steps include its pending acquisition of U.S.-based Mobilitie and its selection by Transport for London (TfL) for a 20-year concession to design, install and operate citywide communications infrastructure using TfL assets. Mobilitie has a broad portfolio of 220 venues across 39 states, 10,000 small cells across 45 states, and 300 tower sites across 14 states. It also has contracts to build wireless communication networks for the public transit systems in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area. TfL has tens of thousands of streetscape assets available for BAI Communications to use in support of wireless access points.

Partnership With Signify

A Dutch multinational corporation, Signify, formerly known as Philips Lighting, entered into a partnership with BAI Communications that will help BAI with its wireless connectivity effort to advance smart community projects.

“The partnership is about combining our portfolio of neutral-host facilities and capabilities with Signify’s innovative portfolio in connected lighting with things like gigabit transmission, integrated luminaires, smart poles and smart hubs,” Leprince said. “The interest is in combining the expertise of the two businesses to boost the extensive capability to support fixed mobile operators and municipalities for smart city opportunities and 5G services. We’re going to test this partnership on the go-to-market side, but also on some of the projects that we announced, such as Transport for London.”

The collaboration will concentrate on BAI’s existing global operations ahead of exploring further opportunities across Europe, according to a statement BAI issued about the partnership. “This is another move in BAI’s active pursuit to be a world leader in connected 5G infrastructure,” the statement reads. “Collaboration outcomes will include co-creating connectivity solutions to circumvent the growing pressure on wireless communication due to increasing congestion on radio spectrum. This will unlock a broad range of operational and revenue improvement opportunities for BAI’s customers.”

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, known as CPP Investments, owns 86 percent of BAI Communications, which has its official headquarters in Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia, and assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. The company grew from a business known as Broadcast Australia, which today delivers 126 million broadcast hours to 99 percent of the Australian population and which remains a significant part of the BAI Communications group of companies.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

 - Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, in the London Underground at Westminster. Transport for London awarded BAI Communications a 20-year concession to deliver 5G-ready high-speed mobile coverage across the London Underground, enabling mobile operators to provide coverage with a large, advanced network. Source: BAI Communications
Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, in the London Underground at Westminster. Transport for London awarded BAI Communications a 20-year concession to deliver 5G-ready high-speed mobile coverage across the London Underground, enabling mobile operators to provide coverage with a large, advanced network. Source: BAI Communications
AGL Connections

London Selects BAI Communications for Neutral-host Communications Infrastructure Concession

Part 2 — Perhaps the largest and most advanced wireless infrastructure project of its kind, the Transport for London undertaking may lead to similar projects in Europe.

Igor LeprinceIt’s probably the largest and probably the most advanced infrastructure project of its type in the world.— Igor Leprince, group CEO of BAI Communications, about the company’s Transport for London project

Plans for a 4G-enabled and 5G-ready telecommunications infrastructure network that will operate as a neutral host for fixed and mobile wireless communications operators in London could serve as an example for similar projects elsewhere, according to Igor Leprince, group chief executive officer of BAI Communications. The company obtained a 20-year concession from Transport for London to design, build and implement the network, he said. The network also will deliver citywide Wi-Fi and fiber-optic cable connectivity, Leprince said, in an interview with AGL eDigest.

“It’s probably the largest and most advanced infrastructure project of its type in the world,” he said, “and will fast-track London’s evolution as a smart city.”

The first phase of the project is a rollout of multicarrier infrastructure, allowing fixed and mobile operators to provide 4G mobile connectivity to customers all across the London Underground rapid transit system, which serves Greater London and parts of the adjacent counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire. Included are all of the stations and all of the tunnels, coverage that Leprince said does not exist today. All stations and tunnels are due to have mobile coverage in four years. However, Leprince said that the project encompasses much more.

“It’s also a high-capacity fiber network running throughout the London Underground to enable the fiber service provider to provide full fiber connectivity to premises across the city,” he said. “That’s a big part of the project.” He said the project also includes the building of an emergency services network. “It’s a significant project for London’s citizens,” he said.

Transport for London has other assets that BAI Communications intends to use.

“TfL has tens of thousands of streetscape assets, including light poles and bus stops that can be used not only for small cells, 5G coverage and 5G capacity, but also for IoT 5G smart city use cases,” Leprince said. He said additional assets include the stations and the walls of the stations themselves. BAI Communications provides neutral-host cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity for locations within the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) underground network of subway stations and private mobile radio, public safety, cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity across the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) underground and light rail systems. BAI Communications has majority ownership of Transit Wireless, which uses distributed antenna system (DAS) networks to provide cellular and Wi-Fi coverage in underground portions of the New York City Subway and includes a dedicated 4.9-GHz public safety band licensed to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

COVID-19

In Toronto, Leprince said, BAI Communications has used analytics on foot-traffic data to anticipate the crowding through the system. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for such information “to make sure that you can monitor social distancing, passenger load and access to transport services,” he said. “It goes beyond that. There are also many use cases we’re doing for the MTA about safety, for example, the help point intercoms. We’re deploying more than 1,000 help point intercoms across more than 175 stations in New York.”

Commenting about additional uses for analytics, Leprince said, “In other parts of the world like Hong Kong, for example, we work more toward things like driverless train applications or real-time video surveillance, also some areas of infotainment, for example, live infotainment. There are many cases, but it is true that a lot of the use cases that we developed and put in place in the last year have been COVID-19-impacted, for sure.”

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, known as CPP Investments, owns 86 percent of BAI Communications, which has its official headquarters in Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia, and assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. The company grew from a business known as Broadcast Australia, which today delivers 126 million broadcast hours to 99 percent of the Australian population and which remains a significant part of the BAI Communications group of companies.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

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AGL Connections

BAI Communications Grows U.S. Infrastructure Business With Mobilitie Acquisition

Part 3 — Yet another window to international expansion, Mobilitie also gives BAI Communications a large scale and nationwide wireless infrastructure in the United States.

Click here to play video.

A multinational communications infrastructure company, BAI Communications, expects to close a transaction in the third quarter that would grow its business mostly in the United States, with potential for international expansion. The pending acquisition of Mobilitie would bring to BAI Communications 10,000 small cells in 45 states, 300 macro towers in 14 states, 220 venues in 39 states, and agreements to provide wireless communications to the public transit systems in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a statement from BAI Communications.

Igor LeprinceIt’s an acquisition to help us to be more effective in delivering the benefit of neutral-host infrastructure.— Igor Leprince, group CEO of BAI Communications, about the company’s acquisition of Mobilitie

“The acquisition of Mobilitie fits perfectly with our growth strategy, scope, scale and geography,” said Igor Leprince, BAI Communications’ group chief executive officer, in an interview with AGL Magazine. “It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity because it aligns almost perfectly with our core business as a provider of neutral-host communication services and our expertise in transit. Mobilitie’s scope is almost exactly where our portfolio and world scope is.”

The acquisition would give BAI Communications a national scale and a presence across the entire United States, Leprince said.

“Right now, we are present through Transit Wireless largely around New York and in the East Coast, but Mobilitie will significantly accelerate our development in the region,” Leprince said. “Additionally, it will enhance our offering that we have in key global markets. It’s an acquisition to help us to be more effective in delivering the benefit of neutral-host infrastructure. A benefit also — for Mobilitie — comes from additional funding, additional capability that we bring from around the world, and fulfills our ambition for growth as a neutral host and for growth in the United States.”

Although Mobilitie has 300 towers, a small number in comparison with the tens of thousands of towers several other companies each own in the United States, Leprince said that BAI operates about 700 towers in Australia for mobile network operators and broadcasters. “This is absolutely part of our business,” he said “That’s an important part of the portfolio we’re acquiring from Mobilitie.”

About BAI Communications, Leprince said, “We have been more well-known for our expertise in transit systems and underground, as well as slightly above ground, which is more about small cells for connectivity in a dense, urban type of environment. Clearly, for us, this is an interesting part of the portfolio of Mobilitie. We are as excited about the towers as we are about the rest of the portfolio of Mobilitie.” Elaborating on Mobilitie’s appeal, Leprince pointed to the opportunity for growth that the acquisition represents.

“For me, it’s growing the portfolio that Mobilitie has, including venues, small cells and towers, and deploying the contract dimension,” Leprince said. “For example, the contract for the San Francisco Bay Area is one that will be deployed in the years to come. The interesting thing is the fact that we can boost the growth of this portfolio outside the United States, using our presence and experience in the UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.” The BAI Communications executive said that the company is a strong believer in the power of private networks, another reason the Mobilitie acquisition is appealing.

Gary Jabara, founder and chairman at MobilitieGary Jabara, founder and chairman at Mobilitie, said the company has the foundation needed to accelerate its impact on a global scale.

“Private networks are to some extent not too different from some of the big venues that BAI and Mobilitie have deployed,” Leprince said. “So I think that might be the ‘gem’ from this acquisition, the growth trajectory that Mobilitie has, but with the additional growth that the combination with BAI could bring. That’s what we’re excited about.”

In the transaction, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, Shamrock Capital, would be selling its ownership stake in Mobilitie to BAI Communications. According to Shamrock, it previously invested $100 million in equity capital with Mobilitie.

Gary Jabara, founder and chairman at Mobilitie, said, “Mobilitie has grown exponentially following Shamrock’s investment in 2013, providing the financial support required to scale nationally and fuel our expansion into 5G. Together, we have firmly established Mobilitie’s position as the market leader in 5G wireless infrastructure and have the foundation needed to accelerate our impact on a global scale. We’re excited for the next chapter of our growth as part of BAI Communications.”

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, known as CPP Investments, owns 86 percent of BAI Communications, which has its official headquarters in Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia, and assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. The company grew from a business known as Broadcast Australia, which today delivers 126 million broadcast hours to 99 percent of the Australian population and which remains a significant part of the BAI Communications group of companies.

Max BiogoschIt is a true enhancement of our broader portfolio, extending our investment in digital infrastructure.— CPP Investments’ head of portfolio value creation and non-executive director on the BAI Communications board of directors, Max Biagosch, about Mobilitie

CPP Investments’ head of portfolio value creation and non-executive director on the BAI Communications board of directors, Max Biagosch, said, “This acquisition is an exciting and dynamic move for the BAI business and represents an attractive opportunity for CPP Investments to increase its financial commitments and generate long-term sustainable returns for our contributors and beneficiaries. It is a true enhancement of our broader portfolio, extending our investment in digital infrastructure, which is critical to people and communities around the world as our lives become increasingly dependent on connectivity.” In Leprince’s view, there is more to come for BAI Communications.

“The deals with Transport for London and with Mobilitie demonstrate our ambition for growth and becoming a leader in 5G neutral host infrastructure,” he said. (See “London Selects BAI Communications for Neutral-host Communications Infrastructure Concession” in this issue.)

“We don’t want to stop here,” Leprince said. “We want to focus on delivering on these deals, delivering on these organic and non-organic wins. In addition, we want to continue to push more. We are fortunate to have ambitious and supportive shareholders. We want to continue to drive this neutral-host solution for mobile network operators in small cells, venues, private networks, smart cities and fiber, and drive our transit communications business. What we have done is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more than we can do for mobile network operators and transit agencies.”

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

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Camouflage and Concealment

The Small Cell Market, Working with Municipalities and Supporting 5G

Conceptual designs, photo simulations and renderings assist building permit applications obtain approvals. Sometimes, full-scale mock-ups are used.

Trey NemethTrey Nemeth, Raycap

The wireless communications industry is moving toward a small cell type of architecture for its base station structures, according to infrastructure manufacturing manager Trey Nemeth. In Charleston, South Carolina, where Raycap designs and manufactures poles, mounts and concealment products for small cell and macro wireless applications, Nemeth serves as the Raycap facility’s general manager. He said Raycap has seen good growth throughout the past year, which has been good news, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depending on what a wireless carrier wants to achieve, Nemeth said the manufacturer is seeing a blend of millimeter-wave and non-millimeter-wave architecture, and he observed orders for millimeter-wave architecture starting to become more prevalent toward the end of 2020.

Although most orders for concealment products concern urban applications, they include many orders for suburban applications, Nemeth said. “It is a function of how strict the zoning regulations are, or in the case of the macro concealment, how strict the landlords are in the way that they’ll be able to accept the appearance of the wireless site,” he said. “The small cell is no different. We’re seeing a lot of the initial deployments in urban centers — more highly developed, more highly populated areas — but whether or not they’re concealed is more of a function of how strict the rules and regulations are.”

Raycap works directly with the carriers, primarily, along with tower companies and multitenant operators, Nemeth said. The company supports them with expert input on possibilities for designing, building and deploying sites. “We’re providing conceptual designs, photo simulations and renderings to assist with approvals and, in some cases, even full-scale mock-ups used to obtain an approval to build a specific design in a specific municipality,” he said.

Sometimes, Nemeth said, Raycap works directly with municipalities with which the company developed a previous relationship.

Utilities provide another source of business for Raycap. Nemeth said the company works directly with utilities to create acceptable designs to use on poles on utility property, sometimes acting as a go-between for the carriers and utilities or the carriers and municipalities.

“We don’t know from one from one opportunity to the next who’s going to be taking the lead,” Nemeth said. “We just try to do our best to support the carriers and all the stakeholders and ultimately get the site approved and deployed.”

Nemeth said the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on business did not forestall growth in the wireless industry, with demand remaining robust despite the pandemic. He said there is quite a bit of pent-up demand, which he said is a function of some challenges associated with COVID-19, both in obtaining building permits and some construction-related challenges.

From the results of the FCC auctioning radio-frequency (RF) spectrum to wireless carriers this year, Nemeth said Raycap looks forward to more mid-band deployments, which he said come with some special challenges. “Our customers are interested in impacts, for example, on the mid-band frequencies on both existing and new concealment products because the consumer products that might have worked five years ago on lower-frequency applications might not work for these new mid-band applications,” he said. “We’re looking at that, and we’re consistently doing new research and development on our existing and new products to be able to support that demand as well.”

Nemeth came to Raycap when the company acquired Stealth Concealment Solutions in 2018. He said that with concealment manufacturing becoming part of a larger company meant having more resources and more opportunities to work for a wider variety of customers.

“With Stealth, we were a small company doing business in a large industry,” Nemeth said. “Most of our contacts were at the market level, and we did business on an individual site basis. This is the way the macro concealment business worked and continues to work. Once the Raycap acquisition took place, we had the resources to work with carriers and tower companies on a corporate level and to help to set standards for small cell infrastructure applications and concealment applications nationwide.”

The opportunity that flowed from the Raycap acquisition has been advantageous, Nemeth said. “We do a good job of striking the right balance of being agile enough to customize our products to meet specific market needs, but also large enough and having enough resources to be able to do mass deployments to support that side of the business as well.”

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

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Safety

Keep Out: How to Stop Drugs and Alcohol from Entering in the Workplace

Drug and alcohol impairments can hinder employee judgment and motor skills. These effects can result in near misses, accidents, injuries and property damage. Accidents may injure employees, coworkers, contractors and members of the public.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, drugs and alcohol remain a significant occupational safety issue for employers across the country. The legal environment is rapidly changing for many drugs, and additional drug use, drug impairments or both have found their way into the workplace. Although the height of the opioid epidemic has receded, media reports high levels of overdoses caused by synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths at work from non-medical use of drugs or alcohol increased by at least 25 percent annually between 2013 and 2017. The 272 workplace overdose deaths reported in 2017 accounted for 5.3 percent of occupational injury deaths.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning that its possession is unlawful under federal law. Yet on Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize adult use of recreational cannabis. Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico permit residents to use medical marijuana, while at least 17 other states allow the use of products of certain products with lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Employment-based drug testing services have reported widespread increases in positivity rates for marijuana in those states that have legalized marijuana. Additional legalizations of recreational marijuana most likely will create additional workplace impairments across the county.

Challenges Posed by Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace

Drug and alcohol impairments can hinder employee judgment and motor skills. These effects can result in near misses, accidents, injuries and property damage. Accidents may injure employees, coworkers, contractors and members of the public. In our practice, we have seen significant employee injuries where impaired employees have errantly turned a powered industrial truck, removed a guard on an operational machine, detached a personal fall arrest system while working on a platform 80 feet in the air and walked in front of a piece of heavy machinery.

Safety hazards are just the tip of the iceberg. Drug and alcohol impairments can result in poor performance, workplace mistakes, reduced output and poor morale. Employees may be more likely to engage in theft or shift workloads to other employees. Impairment increases the likelihood of sexual harassment in the workplace, in all of its forms, including sexual assault. Impairments are correlated with workplace violence incidents, including physical assaults on employees.

Employers would be wise to recognize the risks posed by drugs and alcohol to the workplace and take action to address the hazard through a comprehensive program and testing regime.

Prevalence of Drug Addiction

As you know, many Americans use drugs and alcohol in a casual, recreational setting. However, it is well understood that individuals can form physical, chemical addictions to virtually all forms of drugs, legal and illegal. After nicotine, alcoholism is the most common chemical addiction among Americans. According to the National Safety Council, approximately one in 13 working adults has an alcohol use disorder. Among working adults, nearly 2 percent were addicted to marijuana. Workers in construction and extraction experience the highest rates of substance use disorders, with 15.6 percent of employees on average living with a substance use disorder. The highest rate of prescription pain medication disorders was among people in the services sector.

Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), the criteria for drug addiction emphasizes continued use of the drug despite the user’s knowledge of adverse consequences. Perhaps on account of this phenomena, physical addiction is the major driver of workplace drug use and impairment. Yet one of the least understood components of workplace drug and alcohol programs is how to deal with employee addiction.

Crafting Drug and Alcohol Policies

Safety-sensitive employees are those individuals for whom a drug or alcohol impairment could significantly endanger their safety or the safety of others. Safety-sensitive employees typically perform functions like driving trucks, operating heavy equipment or mixing caustic chemicals (this list is non-exhaustive). Safety professionals recommend zero-tolerance policies for impairing drugs for those in safety-sensitive positions. Zero tolerance means that employers would not tolerate drug use or impairment at any level for those employees. Employers may lawfully implement zero-tolerance policies and prohibit possession, use, impairment or distribution in the workplace.

Zero tolerance policies will have numerous components. One of the most overlooked components of a policy is the definition of prohibited drugs. We recommend that clients proscribe controlled substances, synthetic drugs, analogs and popular non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD. Managers should be trained on how to spot someone impaired by drugs and alcohol. Impairment can be assessed or confirmed through drug testing.

Drug testing can also be a helpful tool in a post-incident context, to help determine the root cause of an incident.

Alleged violations of a drug and alcohol policy should be subject to comprehensive investigation. We recommend appropriate disciplinary policies, to be applied consistently across the workforce. As explained previously, safety professionals recommend that employers use zero tolerance policies to reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries. However, zero tolerance does not mean that every employee who violates the policy must immediately be discharged. Rather, many employers may use Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and other resources to help employees with addiction issues take a break from the workplace, treat their addiction, and return to work.

Employees are valuable human capital with knowledge, experience and training. Substance abuse can be a temporary condition overcome with treatment, psychological counseling or both. Accordingly, as mental health issues have been increasingly destigmatized, many employers are using EAP as a lawful and helpful solution to addiction and substance abuse.

Disability Protections

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically permits employers to ensure that the workplace is free from the illegal use of drugs and the use of alcohol. Generally speaking, the ADA does not prevent employers from prohibiting the use, impairment, possession of alcohol and drugs and paraphernalia in the workplace under federal and state law. An employer may discharge or deny employment to persons who currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs, or are under the influence of alcohol.

However, the ADA protects employees with mental and physical disabilities, including mental health disabilities, depression, alcoholism and drug addiction. Current users of illegal drugs are not protected under the ADA. Casual users of illegal drugs and alcohol are not protected under the ADA, because they are not “substantially limited” in a major life activity from drug use. The ADA creates a limited protection from discrimination for (1) employees who are recovering drug abusers and for alcoholics, (2) employees who have been successfully rehabilitated and who are no longer engaged in the illegal use of drugs or inappropriate use of legal drugs or alcohol, (3) employees who are currently participating in a rehabilitation program and are no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs or the inappropriate use of legal drugs or alcohol, and (4) employees who are erroneously regarded as illegally using drugs or abusing alcohol.

These employees are protected from discrimination by their employer on the basis of a history of drug addiction, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, or similar meetings. Employers may not hold drug addicts or alcoholics to a higher standard of performance or attendance. Employers cannot subject employees to medical inquiries (unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity), such as inquiries about a personal history of mental illness or alcoholism. However, an employer does not violate the ADA when it engages in reasonable suspicion, post-accident or return-to-duty drug testing.

The ADA creates a duty to engage in an “interactive process” with employees who raise a disability and find a “reasonable accommodation” where possible, to accommodate their disability. If a recovering drug addict is not currently illegally using drugs (or abusing legal drugs or alcohol), then he or she may be entitled to reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodations may include a modified work schedule so the employee could attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings or a leave of absence so the employee could seek treatment. However, it goes without saying that there is no duty to accommodate an employee by permitting drug or alcohol impairment at work. Nor does the employer have to forgive misconduct because the misconduct resulted from alcoholism or drug addiction.

Takeaways

Drugs and alcohol create unique challenges in the work environment. In the post-COVID pandemic world with many employees working from home, it may be harder to ensure to that employees comply and do not engage in drug use or impairment while at work. To minimize liabilities, employers should develop robust drug and alcohol policies. Many employers work with outside counsel to create lawful policies and drug testing programs. If faced with drug-related accidents, employers should consider promptly contacting counsel to prepare a response and properly assert their defenses.

Mark A. Lies II is a partner, and Adam R. Young is an associate at Seyfarth Shaw, a Chicago-based law firm that provides advisory, litigation and transactional legal services to clients worldwide. Lies’ email address is [email protected]. Young’s email address is [email protected].

 - ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2021) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ashley Pacheco tracks landing craft, air cushion positions using an amphibious assault direction system in the combat information center aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Aug. 10, 2021. Kearsarge is underway to support Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. LSE 2021 merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today's complex, multi-domain, and contested environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick Boris)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2021) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ashley Pacheco tracks landing craft, air cushion positions using an amphibious assault direction system in the combat information center aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Aug. 10, 2021. Kearsarge is underway to support Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. LSE 2021 merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today's complex, multi-domain, and contested environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick Boris)
5G

Department of Defense Successfully Demonstrates a 5G Network for Smart Warehouses

The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) 5G-to-Next G Initiative (5GI), overseen by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, successfully demonstrated an advanced 5G wireless communications network for logistics modernization exclusively designed and built in the United States. The $90 million prototype, Smart Warehouse Technology Early Capabilities Demonstration, delivered high-speed downloads of 1.5 Gbps and sub-15-millisecond latency using 380 megahertz of spectrum in the mid-band and millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequency ranges.

Once completed, the prototype will deploy in Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia as a private 5G network and use up to 750 megahertz of available bandwidth for higher performance. The extremely high speed and ultra-low latency capabilities attained by 5G technology and the specialized equipment built to handle them will deliver significant enhancements in the operation of autonomous vehicles for inventory management, machine learning for inventory tracking and augmented/virtual reality applications for improved workforce efficiency in warehouse operations in support of the DoD.

Landing Craft, Air Cushion 02, attached to Assault Craft Unit 4 (ACU 4), enters the well deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS KearsargeATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 14, 2021) Landing Craft, Air Cushion 02, attached to Assault Craft Unit 4 (ACU 4), enters the well deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Aug. 14, 2021. Kearsarge and ACU-4 are underway to support Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. LSE 2021 merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today's complex, multi-domain, and contested environment. Photography byPetty Officer 3rd Class Jesse Schwab

The prototype 5G network is built on the next generation of open radio network standards and is designed to comply with DoD specifications for zero-trust architecture for native security and secure connectivity with other networks. These standards and the approach to network design recognize the increasingly ubiquitous presence of connected devices in the internet of things era and their growing risks to the security of systems and networks.

This prototype is the first progress demonstration in the first round (or “Tranche 1”) of 5G projects, a more than $500 million DoD investment in advanced 5G technology that also includes a second smart warehouse project at Naval Base Coronado in California; a dynamic spectrum-sharing project at Hill Air Force Base in Utah; and an augmented reality/virtual reality training project at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

“Advanced telecommunications are critical to the U.S. economy and our way of networked warfighting,” said Joseph B. Evans, Ph.D., principal director of DoD’s 5G Initiative. “The Initiative is a major DoD program that is intended to ensure U.S. leadership in 5G and beyond.”

The 5G Initiative consists of three main points:

  • Accelerate: To stimulate the use of 5G technology through experimentation and advanced prototyping of dual-use applications
  • Operate through: To develop technology to secure 5G and enable the secure use of non-secure networks
  • Innovate: To perform the research and development necessary to win at 6G and beyond

Pole-mount small cell cabinet

“This is a unique opportunity to apply the latest 5G technologies to a traditional but mission-critical support area for our warfighters,” said the prototype’s program manager, John Larson, Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic. “Warehousing and logistical support is the lifeline for the Marine’s Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations. A tremendous amount of planning, preparation and continuous execution is applied to ensure the necessary materiel is pre-positioned around the world and available at a moment’s notice to support our Marines. 5G technologies deliver the fidelity, speed and security needed to accomplish this mission.”

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

 

Product Showcase

Equipment

Raycap Combination Meter/Disconnect unit combines a ringless meterbase, AC disconnect, optional surge protection, load center and cabling.

Raycap

Raycap provides custom AC/DC protection, connectivity and concealment solutions for small cell and macro towers. Our concealments blend in seamlessly into any environment, and our power/fiber connectivity and protection systems protect telecommunications infrastructure from the risk of downtime. If you’re installing 5G mmWave applications, our InvisiWave® material conceals 5G mmWave equipment with negligible signal interference; and our SSV or ESSV composite materials are excellent for C-Band concealment. For protection of mission critical cell sites, look to Raycap and its patented Strikesorb surge protection. 


www.raycap.com
 

Company Showcase

Equipment

Raycap

Raycap provides electrical protection, connectivity and concealment equipment for wireless and wireline networks. The company supports carrier initiatives with small cell and macro tower concealments that blend in seamlessly into public venue environments. It provides customized fiber-optic cabinets, enclosures and electrical protection systems that support current and next-generation telecommunications infrastructure.

In This Issue  
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From The Editor

Artificial Intelligence for 5G Site Selection

In the next few years, mobile network operators might be using artificial intelligence to ...
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Edge

Market Disparities: Building a Strategy for Digital Edge Empowerment

Whether for business, interpersonal communication, education, health care, precision agric...
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Edge

Taking the Temperature of 5G

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) rec...
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Edge

Edge Computing in the Wireless Infrastructure World

Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of DigitalBridge Group. Edge computing has two aspects and ...
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Private Networks

Expanding Private 5G Networks to Support Intelligent Automation

While public 5G is moving full speed ahead, interest in private 5G networks — and the inno...
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Public Safety Communications

Disruptive Innovation in Public Safety Communication Systems

First responders can experience numerous communications problems when on-site at an emerge...
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Antennas

Choosing the Right Cell Site Antenna Solution

Antennas are the wires of the wireless world. They are the last stop for a signal on its w...
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5G

5G Forges Wider Collaboration, Move to Zero Trust Security

Bryan Kennedy, CommScope Fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications networking technol...
 - Lines interconnecting streetlights represent small cell wireless connectivity among Signify’s connected lighting products as BAI Communications might use them for a neutral-host 5G wireless communications network as part of its concession from Transport for London, a local government body responsible for most of the transport network in London. Source: BAI Communications
AGL Connections

Neutral-host Infrastructure, Small Cells to Underpin Smart City Applications

The partnership is about combining our portfolio of neutral-host facilities and capabiliti...
 - Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, in the London Underground at Westminster. Transport for London awarded BAI Communications a 20-year concession to deliver 5G-ready high-speed mobile coverage across the London Underground, enabling mobile operators to provide coverage with a large, advanced network. Source: BAI Communications
AGL Connections

London Selects BAI Communications for Neutral-host Communications Infrastructure Concession

It’s probably the largest and probably the most advanced infrastructure project of its typ...
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AGL Connections

BAI Communications Grows U.S. Infrastructure Business With Mobilitie Acquisition

Click here to play video. A multinational communications infrastructure company, BAI Commu...
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Camouflage and Concealment

The Small Cell Market, Working with Municipalities and Supporting 5G

Trey Nemeth, Raycap The wireless communications industry is moving toward a small cell t...
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Safety

Keep Out: How to Stop Drugs and Alcohol from Entering in the Workplace

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, drugs and alcohol remain a significant occupational safety ...
 - ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 10, 2021) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ashley Pacheco tracks landing craft, air cushion positions using an amphibious assault direction system in the combat information center aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Aug. 10, 2021. Kearsarge is underway to support Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021. LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy's ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. LSE 2021 merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today's complex, multi-domain, and contested environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick Boris)
5G

Department of Defense Successfully Demonstrates a 5G Network for Smart Warehouses

The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) 5G-to-Next G Initiative (5GI), overseen by the Offi...