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Trends in DAS and Small Cells, and the Emergence of 5G

By Ilissa Miller

Spending on small cells and revenue from smart network building both are expected to show increases as part of the demand for 5G networks. In particular, the outdoor small cell market will expand to support wireless carrier needs and the adaptation of smart cities.


According to analysts at Dell’Oro Group, small cells are one of the fastest-growing segments of the wireless infrastructure market, with yearly growth of at least 50 percent for the last four years. Carriers have been deploying indoor and outdoor small cells while also selling indoor small cells to their customers, both of which have contributed to the increase.

Two major factors in the growth of DAS and small cells have been the new demand for 5G networks as the outdoor small cell market is taking off to support carrier needs and the adaptation of smart cities.

A new analysis from iGR shows that the outdoor small cell market will become a necessary part of our mobile networks. As most network carriers transition to 5G and the demand for high-quality data services on LTE networks grows, the use of outdoor small cells is integral for these processes.

Small cells will have to do more with the installation of these technologies, because they help with powering, backhaul problems, regulations and cost efficiency. A survey commissioned by Ixia and conducted by Dimensional Research queried more than 300 executives from enterprise and service-provider companies globally regarding the growth of 5G networks. According to its research, reported in RCR Wireless News, 96 percent of the organizations surveyed said that they plan to use 5G technologies, and 67 percent of them have evaluated or will evaluate 5G technologies in the next 12 months.

Smart city applications and the internet of things have been increasing all over the world, especially in metropolitan areas. The platforms of distributed antenna system (DAS) networks, small cells, Wi-Fi and other internet-of-things infrastructures are making these cities smart.

“Smart city applications will have a huge economic impact on cities around the world,” said Todd Landry, corporate vice president of product and market strategy at JMA Wireless, as quoted in a news release from Bigbelly, a smart city solutions provider. JMA Wireless previewed Bigbelly’s telecom cabinet at the Mobile World Congress Americas in September 2017. Smart city applications have been making roads, waste management, energy, security, water supply and weather reporting extremely efficient for everyone in those cities. The technology behind small cells is playing a huge part in this adaption of urban areas, increasing the demand for them even more. According to Machine Research, as reported in Telecoms Tech News, 6 billion North Americans will have an internet-of-things connection by 2025.

Figures 1 shows the forecasted growth in the upcoming years.

To ensure connectivity and communications are enabled everywhere, companies cannot have a wireless network without a wireline one. One of the industry’s biggest trends is the convergence of wireline and wireless technologies.

Fig. 1 Smart network building revenue is expected to increase from the $7 billion received last year to as much as $32 billion in 2022. Source: Northeast DAS & Small Cell Association

In its most recent fourth-quarter earnings report, Dycom stressed the need for investment in wireline networks, particularly in regard to 4G expansion and 5G planning. The CEO of Dycom, Steven Nielsen, quoted in FierceTelecom, said he believes that the convergence of wireless and wireline networks is fundamental to connectivity. “Emerging wireless technologies are now beginning to drive significant incremental wireline deployments,” he said. “It’s clear that a complementary wireline investment cycle will be required to facilitate what is expected to be a decades-long deployment of converged wireless/wireline networks.” The company is also seeing a trend with wireline providers growing their fiber networks, especially in metropolitan areas.

Fiber Networks

According to experts from CommScope, one of the biggest strategies for companies that want to converge networks is the use of fiber networks. In “Where Wireless Meets Wireline: Converging Mobile Fronthaul/Backhaul and FTTH Networks” published by WirelessWeek, Mike Wolfe and Erik Gronvall from CommScope said, “Solutions in convergence lie in making sure the network is built in such a way that any of the fibers can be used for whatever service makes sense. … It’s not just a matter of throwing a ton of fiber into the network. Rather, it means taking a broader look at the available fiber maximization technologies and how they might be used.”

Experts believe that a lot of careful deliberation will go into the convergence of wireless and wireline networks, not just with large carrier providers, but also with network providers, investors and consultants. If done correctly and diligently, companies can maximize their efforts and investments. If not, they will find themselves spending more than they expected.


Ilissa Miller is president of the Northeast DAS + Small Cell Association. She is the founder and CEO of iMiller Public Relations.

 

Gabe’s Construction Leadership Enters 4th Generation, Forms Wireless Division

By Ilissa Miller

For the wireless infrastructure business, Gabe’s Construction has meant fiber-optic cable installation and the construction of DAS networks and small cells. Expansion led Gabe’s to establish a division devoted to wireless solutions.


Gabrielse

In September 2017, Matthew Gabrielse became president of Gabe’s Construction in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is a member of the fourth generation of the Gabrielse family to lead the company, and he succeeded Tim Gabrielse.

Since its first contract to install fiber-optic cable in 1985, Gabe’s Construction has installed 5,500 miles of cable. In 2006, the company built its first DAS, eventually becoming at one time the largest DAS contractor in North America.

With the formation of a new division, Gabe’s Wireless Solutions, the company has expanded its wireless engineering and construction services. The company provides a turnkey, end-to-end solution for indoor and outdoor DAS, small cells and venue-based wireless networks, serving wireless carriers, neutral-host providers and building and venue owners throughout North America.

In my role as president of the Northeast DAS & Small Cell Association (NEDAS), I interviewed Gabrielse. He talked about Gabe’s Construction’s recent acquisitions and how the company sets itself apart in a competitive industry. He also shared his long-term vision for the organization and discussed the effect of emerging technologies on the wireless community. What follows is the interview, edited for length.


Your appointment to be the new president of Westshore Companies and Gabe’s Construction comes as the organization celebrates 75 years in business, during which it has flourished in both good and challenging economic times. What are the key attributes or core values of Gabe’s Construction that have enabled it to be such durable force in the industry?

Gabrielse: One of the key attributes that has enabled Gabe’s Construction to become such a durable force in the industry has been our ability to adapt to change for the past 75 years. We started out installing drain tiles for farm fields in the 1940s. The company then grew into the public works construction business, and in the 1960s, we entered the natural gas market in Wisconsin. Moving to the 1980s, Gabe’s Construction began building the backbones of today’s communications infrastructure, and in the early 2000s we entered the wireless business, building networks from coast to coast and border to border. Many of our current employees possess more than 15 years of experience, and we have had many retire from Gabe’s with more than 25 years of service. The idea that we are a close-knit company that understands the importance of treating our employees like family is something I am very proud of and has provided our company stability over the years.

Gabe’s Construction made a major acquisition in its recent purchase of PCTEL’s assets. What new markets, customers and projects will this move enable Gabe’s Construction to pursue?

Gabrielse: This acquisition will allow Gabe’s Construction to expand its wireless-based customers. We have installed thousands of small cells throughout the Midwest markets and this will allow us to expand our client offerings and add network engineering services to our implementation services. I am looking forward to expanding our services in the Midwest and other areas of the country.

How will this affect your vision for the company in the short and long-term?

Gabrielse: Gabe’s Construction is always looking to grow the business in all areas of our company. We recently signed a multi-year agreement with one of our long-standing clients and look to grow the maintenance side of the company as we continue that relationship. In the long term, we anticipate growth in the wireless solutions division and other divisions within the company. We have such a great team from our wireless group to our horizontal directional drilling group, to our utility construction group. Our team is second to none.

Gabe’s Construction has completed tens of thousands of indoor and outdoor DAS networks, small cells and venue-based wireless projects across the United States and Canada. When you look across the landscape at your competitors, what sets Gabe’s Construction apart from the pack?

Gabrielse: On all sides of the business, I believe one thing that sets Gabe’s Construction apart is our focus on safety. We were one of the first contractors in Wisconsin to hire a full-time safety director. Another core tenet is our commitment to our customers. We value each customer and the relationships we have developed. Gabe’s Construction has many customers with whom we have done business with for more than 15 years because of our commitment to safety. We recently completed a major project in Pennsylvania for one of our customers, and I am proud to say we sent everyone home without injury, and that includes our crews and, more importantly, the public. One of the things my father taught me was that as a family-run business, Gabe’s Construction is able to focus a little more on our customers and give them the best service possible.

What emerging technologies or market conditions — whether the coming of 5G, the expected exponential increase in mobile traffic, or the connectivity to support the internet of things — do you anticipate will have the most profound effect on your business?

Gabrielse: Most definitely, all these trends and emerging technologies will have a profound effect on our business. The demand for mobile technology is not going to go away. Everywhere you look, you see people on their mobile devices. The demand for more speed and faster connectivity to social media will drive Gabe’s growth on the wireless side of the business as well as provide added construction projects to support the infrastructure needed to deliver the wireless signal.

What core competencies come into play that positions Gabe’s Construction to best serve the technological, logistical, project management or other demands for these projects?

Gabrielse: The experience of our team positions us to meet the demands of these projects, while our passion in helping our clients ultimately positions everyone to succeed.

Representatives of Gabe’s Construction and Gabe’s Wireless Solutions recently attended the inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas in San Francisco. What were your key takeaways from the event?

Gabrielse: One major takeaway is the importance of being at events such as MWC Americas. This was a fantastic opportunity for Gabe’s Construction to meet with multiple vendors, clients and friends in the industry and bounce new ideas off each other. The opportunity for our wireless team to network with other professionals in the industry is priceless. We get to hear speakers on the latest and greatest ideas and products. And we get to listen to our customers and better understand how we can help them deliver their projects on time and under budget.


For more information about Gabe’s Construction, visit www.gabes.com. Ilissa Miller is president of the Northeast DAS & Small Cell Association. She is the founder and CEO of iMiller Public Relations.

NEDAS Conference Covers Variety of Issues

By John Celentano

April 7, 2016 — Northeast DAS & Small Cell Association (NEDAS) held its 4th Annual In-Building Wireless Summit in New York City on April 5 – 6. Over 100 attendees and 27 exhibitors gathered at the New York Academy of Medicine for the two-day event.

The first day comprised four educational workshops that covered topics: “Total Turnkey DAS,” ‘Understanding the Business Value of Addressing the DAS Near-Far Challenge”, “RAN & Subscriber Analytics” and “LTE Solutions with high Throughput Satellite Backhaul”.
Ilissa Miller, NEDAS President, kicked off the second-day program with “A Dose of DAS” introduction.

Throughout the day, a series of panels with industry participants yielded interesting discussions on “Digitizing our Arenas”, “Capacity Planning/Technology Developments” and “Fiber-to-the-X Trends”, “Integrator Solutions” and “Development in Mobile Antenna Technology”.
Presentations on special topics addressed “The Middleprise: They’re Not Too Big and Not Too Small, but They’re Just Not Right”, “The Edge: Where the End User Resides” and “The Carrier Conundrum: oDAS-Turnkey or Self Perform” along with highlights from several Case Studies.

A productive day left attendees looking forward to upcoming NEDAS events later this year.


 

John Celentano is a principal at Skyline Marketing Group and is on the marketing team of AGL Media Group. jcelentano@aglmediagroup.com