ExteNet Systems has completed its acquisition of Axiom Fiber Networks. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Axiom’s high-bandwidth fiber will be accretive to ExteNet’s existing purpose-built fiber in Manhattan. Overlaying Axiom’s newly-built and high strand count fiber to its fiber plant positions ExteNet well to address the increasing densification, bandwidth and communication needs throughout New York City.
“Our customers, including service providers, building owners, municipalities and enterprises require scalable, reliable, secure and high-bandwidth network solutions,” said Ross Manire, President and CEO for ExteNet Systems. “ExteNet has an expansive fiber network in New York City, serving outdoor and in-building customers. This acquisition of Axiom Fiber Networks allows us to extend and densify our service footprint in lower Manhattan for the benefit of our customers. I would like to welcome Axiom customers, and employees, to the ExteNet family.”
ExteNet will undertake responsibilities of all existing Axiom customers. Axiom CEO Felipe J. Alvarez will join ExteNet’s management team.
FCC Com. Michael O’Rielly blasted efforts to impede the rollout of small cells, such as the use of Florida municipalities’ use of moratoria, during a meeting of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) on Friday, in Washington, DC.
O’Rielly referenced an FCC filing by UNITI Group that identified 44 moratoria in the state of Florida on small cell deployments in the public rights of way, saying they are “unbelievable” and “cannot be allowed to stand.”
“The barriers being imposed are not caused by a failure to collaborate, but a failure to heed to current law and a resistance to allow citizens access to modern communications unless certain localities impose their will or extract bounties from providers,” O’Rielly said.
O’Rielly said problem of local governments setting up regulatory environments that are hostile to small cells is getting worse.
“The barriers preventing providers from bringing fixed and wireless broadband throughout our nation have increased despite the existence of this committee,” he said in prepared remarks.
Supportive small cell legislation being passed in the states doesn’t seem to be helping much, either. Florida’s State legislature passed The Infrastructure Deployment Act, which makes it unlawful for localities to prohibit small cells. However, a clause that allows them to adopt ordinances concerning “objective design standards,” has led to unnecessary and illegal moratoria, according to an ex parte presentation filed with the FCC by UNITI Group.
“Despite federal law to the contrary, many localities have implemented moratoria, in name or in fact, on installing small cells in the public rights-of-way,” UNITI said. “Even when local officials – like county commissioners, city councils, staff, and attorneys – are provided copies of relevant federal rulings prohibiting moratoria, these parties feign ignorance or express their intention to violate federal law.”
O’Rielly also pointed the finger at the City of San Jose, whose mayor Sam Liccardo is on the BDAC.
“[According to] the recent paper by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the mayor’s team is seeking to extract high rents and fees for merely trying to attach small cells to utility poles,” O’Rielly said.
O’Rielly has learned of an effort by East Coast cities to coordinate the fees and other requirements that are imposed on small cells.
“The ideas being bandied about were head scratching: from neutral platform requirements to mandating sensor attachments to every small cell,” he said. “There seems to be no limit to the creativity of those imposing barriers to deployment.”
Ericsson and Swisscom are bringing gigabit connectivity to Swiss consumers, starting with the deployment of the Ericsson Radio Dot System in the operator’s retail stores.
“This is a big leap toward supplying greater quality coverage and capacity in hard-to-reach places such as garages, elevators and commercial buildings, and delivering a true gigabit experience to all Swisscom subscribers across the entire network,” Ericsson said.
In Swisscom shops across Switzerland, gigabit speeds were achieved by the Ericsson Radio Dot System, with carrier aggregation over 3 LTE frequency bands, 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM, delivering up to 1.2 Gbps in downlink capacity.
The performance delivered in the stores enables Swisscom customers to experience the full capabilities of the latest cellular technology on the market, including smartphones, tablets and SIM cards. By end of 2017, Gigabit LTE will be introduced in 15 Swisscom Shops, with the Bern, Freiburg and Zurich locations already equipped with this speed.
Nishant Batra, head of Product Area Network Infrastructure, Ericsson, said: “The Radio Dot System is a key building block in our Gigabit LTE offering on the road to 5G, and we are demonstrating the capabilities of the offering on the Swisscom network in retail outlets to showcase what subscribers can expect today and in the future.”
NextEdge Networks, a newly formed San Francisco-based small cell and site acquisition firm, merges two companies that have executed more than 4,000 node deployments in more than 40 states.
These are heady days for San Francisco-based small cell specialist NextEdge Networks.
As Doug Wiest, the CEO of the newly formed company, explains: “NextEdge Networks was founded in November 2016, when Titan Grove purchased the small cell assets from EdgeConnecX, an international edge data center company. In September 2017, we finalized our merger with Modus, which is a leader in wireless site acquisition and turnkey deployment, and which has been in business, focusing on small-cell deployments, since 2005. In terms of size, we’re growing, and right now we’re at 60-plus employees and seven offices on both coasts.”
The merger of NextEdge Networks and Modus, a San Francisco-based site acquisition and construction firm deploying small cells for all the major wireless carriers, has created a turnkey provider of services and infrastructure solutions to enable the deployment of the next generation of wireless infrastructure. “Because we focus on small cells, we do things a little bit different than your typical site-acquisition and construction company does, Wiest said. “Although we do other types of work, we really see ourselves as being experts in small cells.”
According to Wiest, the rapid growth of data use is causing increasing demands on the nation’s wireless infrastructure and wireless providers, which require innovative solutions aligning the interests of all stakeholders. “Our combined capabilities, as well as our experience and success in the most difficult of jurisdictions, allow us to partner with wireless carriers, municipalities and business owners to create long-term alignment to address the impending need of network densification,” he said.
Predominantly West Coast-oriented, NextEdge Networks has offices in San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; and Florida. The company’s range of services now includes project financing, small cell deployments, site acquisition and jurisdictional partnerships, construction and construction management, program management, fiber deployment, in-building distributed antenna system (DAS) networks and small cell installations and maintenance.
NextEdge Networks bills itself as the recognized expert in the burgeoning field of small cell and DAS deployments, having executed more than 4,000 node deployments in more than 40 states. Meanwhile, Modus’ past deployments have also included more than 3,500 fiber-to-cell installations, the first microcell deployment, the first western U.S. small cell installation, the first U.S. 5G deployment and numerous high-profile DAS installations.
A wireless industry veteran, Wiest has built a multidisciplinary career, working for various wireless infrastructure companies before becoming CEO of NextEdge Networks. He worked at EdgeConnecX for six years as executive vice president for business development, focusing the last couple of years on small cell deployment. Prior to EdgeConnecX, Wiest was the founding president and CEO of LightTower, an Eastern U.S.-based fiber company that Crown Casstle International acquired. Before that, Wiest was COO of American Tower for its first five years. Earlier still, Wiest worked with various carriers, including Nextel and McCaw.
The NextEdge Networks team also includes Chris Maguire, CFO, who was formerly CFO of Golden State Towers and executive vice president of American Tower. Maguire has held CFO and strategic consulting positions in wireless, radio and renewable energy businesses. Chad Abbott, Erik Corkery and Ryan Crowley, who founded Modus in 2005, will become executive vice presidents of the new entity and continue to lead the services activities of NextEdge Networks. Business development efforts are headed by two industry veterans, Jennifer Hockensmith, formerly of EdgeConneX, Lightsquared and PrimeCo, and John Ricci, formerly of Ericsson, Golden State Towers, Spectrasite and SBA Communications.
A self-described wanna-be engineer, Wiest said he always is fascinated by patterns of mobility and how technology can change the ways humans interact. “Wireless mobility always intrigued me; I was lucky because the wireless industry has been in a growth pattern as long as I’ve been involved — and it’s been great to watch,” he said. “I think we’re now entering a new area of growth where data is now being consumed, particularly video, in larger and larger chunks. It continues to transform the way we do business. Ten years from now, we’ll be astounded what’s changed.”
Fortunately, Wiest says, NextEdge is well capitalized to exploit the technology trends. “Our investment in infrastructure, we hope, will grow as a percentage of our business over time — and, those investments will happen, both outdoors and indoors, either through pockets of fiber deployment or in-building through small cell or DAS installations,” he said. “We have the capability, financially, to create infrastructure opportunities as we go forward.”
On the real estate side, Wiest expects NextEdge Networks to remain cautious. The company isn’t planning to do any speculative development, although it will look for risk-adjusted opportunties. “We have a rather unique approach to site acquisition because it’s our belief that, for the last 30 years, real estate owners, organizations and managers have expected wireless as a funding source — or a way for remuneration,” he said “It’s our view that that needs to be turned on its head.”
Wiest believes wireless is more of a benefit and, as a result, real estate owners and managers shouldn’t be expecting a wireless entity to fund activities that happen within their buildings. “As a result of that benefit, our real estate activities really set a completely different expectation in terms of what the cost would be for access to those buildings,” he said.
“We essentially start at zero for access cost; we don’t start at a high number and work down,” Wiest said. “That’s going to be the future of the industry because, otherwise, with carriers not being as capable of funding, particularly on the in-building side, the real estate owners will take a good brunt of that on, which they really haven’t had to do before and, therefore, look on it at as a utility than as a way to make money.”
Wiest said the main strength of the merger is how it combines small cell and jurisdictional capabilities. Although both Modus and NextEdge focused on small cell deployment, Modus has more experience in jurisdictional partnerships, particularly in the ability to partner with municipalities and other regulatory entities to help speed up the process and make it easier for wireless carriers to deploy their networks.
Wiest sees Modus’ jurisdictional knowledge as a big plus, particularly because the company worked in San Francisco, said to be one of the toughest jurisdictions in the country. “Not only did we work with the city and county of San Francisco to develop their wireless standards and procedures, they looked at us as an integral entity in helping them create their processes going forward,” Wiest said.” Although we see that as a partnership, we certainly don’t forget the fact that our ultimate customers are wireless carriers. They’re the ones that use those procedures to get the work done. Nevertheless, it’s important to establish good relationships because that makes things go so much quicker as you move through the points and process of our collective groups together.”
The other strength that NextEdge and Modus have long shared, according to Wiest, is a relentless attitude in keeping customers satisfied and happy. He believes that both companies also share the same approach exceeding expectations.
The Road Ahead
Wiest envisions continued growth for the marketplace in general and NextEdge in particular. As reasons, he cited the increasing demand for data consumption and the fact that data and video are growing at almost logarithmic leaps and bounds.
“We’re going to continue to be the experts of small cells, but we’re certainly going to be open to different ways to grow and invest and we hope that over time we can turn our infrastructure business into a bigger percentage of the business as a whole,” Wiest said. “We hope to be one of the principal small cell experts and deployers of the new technologies. We hope to be an owner, too. We certainly see growth in our future.”
The biggest challenge for the brand-new company will be capturing the right opportunities, Wiest said, including exceeding customer expectations and focusing on the near-term needs of the wireless industry. “We’re going to be focused on small cell installations, both indoors and outdoors, alhough I hope you’ll see us morph over time,” he said. “We would like to see a bigger percentage become more infrastructure-oriented than service-oriented, and we would like to own some of these networks that are being invested in throughout the country.”
Finally, Wiest said he believes that as carriers look for ways to improve their own competitive position, the ability of other people to fund networks will grow over time.
Mike Harrington is a freelance writer in Prairie Village, Kansas.
A number of different technologies must come together to make 5G a reality, Gordon Mansfield, AT&T, told an audience at the HetNet Expo in West Palm Beach 2017 last week.
“A lot of people think that 5G is a singular, magical event, but the fact is that 5G is a lot of different components that have to come together,” Mansfield said. “Whether it is the virtualization of the core, the densification of the RAN, a change in the transport between the cell sites and the core, as well as placement of content to reduce latency. All of those things need to happen. It is an evolution.”
Just as important, however, is the collaboration of the wireless infrastructure industry with wireless carriers, smart cities service providers and municipalities. Many smart cities initiatives will deploy equipment on the same poles and streetlights as small cells, which means multiple entities must work together on the structures’ design to optimize deployment.
“There are synergies to working together, which reduce costs and optimize performance of all parties’ equipment,” he said. “Increasingly the wireless network domain and the smart cities domain are overlapping, providing an excellent opportunity for synergies to reduce the cost model and deployment model for both. All parties’ needs must be taken into consideration to speed deployments.” Among the shared components in small cells can be power and fiber, he added.
Small Cells: Multiple Purposes
Mansfield said there is no one-size-fits-all design for small cells, and a tool box approach is needed to provide variable alternatives that can be adapted to the different needs of wireless carriers and smart cities.
Along with wireless carriers’ equipment, small cells may have the components of Wi-Fi, LED lighting, public safety video, digital banners, alert systems for emergency assistance, sensors all charging stations all competing for space.
“The street lights are becoming technology hubs. There are options when multiple things are attempting to be done,” Mansfield said. “You have to choose from the deployment options based on the needs of multiple parties.”
A small cell provider should look at the deployment options through the eyes of the municipality, the mobile carriers or smart cities providers, according to Mansfield.
“If we consider smart cities and wireless carriers all together, we can simplify the deployment and minimize the disruption of the municipal services,” Mansfield said. “If we work now, we can develop forward-looking designs that will evolve once the equipment that is going on now becomes the 5G equipment that will be added later.”
Blending Small Cells into the Urban Streetscape
Tens of thousands of 4G LTE small cells have been deployed so far, and some municipalities have been less than receptive to the rollout. Mansfield said the difficulty in siting small cells is understandable.
“We are putting a lot on these poles, and in the future, many of these nodes are going to be upgraded to support 5G technology,” Mansfield said. “That means more equipment on the pole. People get nervous when we talk about putting all this equipment on poles with more to come in the future.”
Mansfield called upon the wireless industry to accommodate aesthetic concerns of the public concerning small cells.
“We have to work closely with municipalities to promote an environment that is conducive to rapid deployment,” he said. “AT&T is driving its collaborators and vendors to develop small cell form factors that can be unobtrusively integrated into the urban streetscape with key emphasis on aesthetics, functionality and flexibility.”
mmWaves and Small Cell Design
5G technology will complicate small cell design, because transmitting in the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum requires the antenna and radio to be integrated, Mansfield said. Because the frequencies are so high, there is no tolerance for losses caused by having coaxial or feeders between the radio unit and the antenna.
“The antennas themselves are active antennas, which support the massive MIMO that is needed to maximize coverage out of the mmWaves,” Mansfield said. “We are already talking to the OEMs about miniaturizing these components so we can start to scale and facilitate the picocell deployments and the form factors that will blend into the urban environments.”
Additionally, the limited wave propagation characteristics of the mmWaves eliminate the use of material to be used to conceal the structure, which Mansfield noted as ironic considering the need to camouflage small cells.