MD7 unveiled its new brand today, which includes a logo and website, and discussed the direction of the company during a multi-national virtual conference, which was viewed by its 300 employees, across the United States; Dublin, Ireland; Dusseldorf, Germany; Maastricht, the Netherlands; and Madrid, Spain. The previous brand was established 17 years ago when the company began with four employees.
“We are completely updating and revising the entire MD7 brand to be more bold, more confident,” said Tom Leddo, chief strategy officer. “We look forward to the tailwinds that 5G is bringing, and we expect a lot of growth and a lot of change. We wanted our brand and our story to reflect not only who we have become, but also what we see our company becoming in the future.”
The communications world has changed a great deal since MD7 was established, when leases were negotiated with landlords in person and cellular technology was in its second generation, going on 3G. Today, cellular is in its fifth generation, which demands hundreds of thousands of small cells.
“We spent several decades, as a country, building out 350,000 to 400,000 cell sites, and we going to spend the next seven years building out another 800,000 cell sites,” Leddo said. “If we are going to accomplish that, we need to change our processes. When it comes to locating and deploying sites, we have to be better, faster and cheaper.”
To handle this growth, the carriers will need help, and MD7 is setting itself up to be a subcontractor to which the carriers can outsource all their real estate needs. In the future, thousands more landlords will need to be managed in the United States and Europe, and this labor-intensive process will need to be outsourced to specialist firms. Already, in two countries in Europe, operators have outsourced all their landlord and lease management to MD7.
“Not just leasing, but everything about sites must be more efficient,” Leddo said. “There are better ways to manage deployments and to manage the existing sites and relationships with thousands of landlords. We are in position to capitalize on that change, and the brand needed to show that.”
As a matter of course, MD7 is streamlining the management process of the underlying assets, setting up portals for landlords to manage themselves. The company will use analytics to track constantly increasing rent, to uncover insights and to manage underlying assets proactively.
“With cell sites exponentially increasing, carriers will need help with managing their real estate assets,” Leddo said. “If you throw 800,000 small cells on top of 400,000 macros, the carriers will have to manage 1.2 million sites with the same staff and sometime less staff.”
The operators have multiple systems: one for rent roll, one for landlord relations management and one for uploading construction drawings, leases and lease administration. Automation is the key to managing a carrier’s real estate assets, according to Leddo, as well as having staff focused on those needs.
“You better have some darn good software,” Leddo said. “It just makes sense to go in and clean it up, automate it and use software. We can achieve economies of scale, serving multiple carriers off the same system.” However, it may take a while for carriers in the United States to trust outsourcing this sensitive data. Nevertheless, it already is happening in Europe.
To manage the data efficiently, MD7 uses machine learning and has plans to evolve into using artificial intelligence (AI). It has a tool called Contract Analyzer that uses software to read cell site leases. Machine learning helps to increase the software’s accuracy. Next, the company will use AI to track trends and give us insights into managing the real estate assets more efficiently.
MD7 is automating cell site development using LiveTrack, a software platform that allows access to more sites in less time. With this tool, the company can manage financial data, documents, milestones and site information for thousands of mobile sites within a single interface. Through it, carriers have full visibility into project status using real-time workflow automation, data administration and reporting.
“We use a centralized approach to site acquisition,” Leddo said. “We do a lot of zoning and permitting online. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have embraced this. It has significantly sped up negotiations and increased the volume of leases we can process through zoning, permitting and construction.”