It wasn’t too long ago, the wireless industry was in its “Wild West” phase, with regional carriers turning markets “on” one tower at a time. Back then, each new town presented its own host of challenges to overcome; local laws to learn, specific zoning rules and ordinances to adhere to. In many cases, local municipal leaders were just a few steps ahead of the carriers, writing or revising laws to adjust for the new technology.
Suddenly, land was quickly re-valued as opportunities to host cell towers presented themselves. Potential landlords had to balance potential income with concerns about the visual aesthetic of landscapes and the safety of resident and migrating wildlife. For carriers, and the companies that support them, scouting locations, negotiating leases, designing and building towers was a process that often moved at a glacial pace.
But now, with many consumer carriers consolidated into the major players, and more and more businesses employing private networks, speed and efficiency are critical when companies bid on infrastructure buildout projects. To gain and maintain a competitive advantage, SAC Wireless created the SAC Engine Room, which houses the nation’s largest nationwide telecommunication jurisdictional requirements database. Less of a single physical location and more of a streamlined, coordinated, well-organized, company-wide initiative, the Engine Room dramatically reduces the time between identifying a geographic footprint and delivering Notices to Proceed (NTPs).
The purpose of the Engine Room is to not reinvent the wheel every time the company enters a new market. By having rapid access to the fine print — leasing, design and install teams arrive well prepared to meet with everyone who will have a say whether a project is approved. Not only does this streamline the process by answering most questions before they are asked, it shows potential business partners and civic leaders that we respect their laws, preferences and time. We want to be trusted partners for years to come, supplying the broadband services that will help their communities grow and thrive.
Our real estate team works with engineers to identify locations that will best serve the community in terms of signal strength and reach for the planned network; this includes triangulation with other towers in the area to seamlessly transfer data while accepting and handing off voice calls from phones in motion. The real estate team works with the landlords and jurisdictions to secure necessary permissions for the carriers to proceed with deployment. The legal team ensures proposals are fully compliant with all laws and regulations, including environmental and aesthetic considerations. Finally, all this shared knowledge is passed along to the install and maintenance teams to ensure the end product is and remains compliant with the lease and local laws.
During install, whenever problems arise, the team can turn to SAC’s Digitalization and Automation (“DnA”), a best practices database that provides answers in an instant. As new issues arise, the team inputs solutions into the database so that all install teams can benefit should it happen again. We also share best practices, especially on safety issues, industry wide. It is imperative that nobody gets hurt on the job or near a tower; when competitors work together industry-wide, everyone benefits – workers, customers and consumers, plus pedestrians and wildlife near equipment.
The site-build process is complex but remains the same no matter what company wins a contract. By working as one team, SAC has streamlined the process; no details or precious hours are lost while handing off a project from one team to the next.
Scott Pomykalski is Chief Development Officer at SAC Wireless.