The rooms were packed for the New York State Wireless Association’s Wireless Forum, held June 21-22 at the Chelsea Piers in New York, and the information flowed fast and freely. If you did not get a chance to attend, here are the more important key takeaways from the sessions.
The opening keynote was presented by Cordell Schacter CTO New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT). It was an interesting presentation. Rather than a high-level talk about how New York is doing wireless, he discussed how wireless will become a solution to one of the city’s greatest challenges – traffic.
Schacter talked about a new, smart city project being implemented in the 5.9 GHz band that will be used to send safety data to and from the infrastructure (V2I) to smart and, eventually, autonomous vehicles and to each other (V2V). This is what 5G is meant to do.
He drilled down on that a bit as to how it will be done and what the expected results will be on the accident rate within the city. He discussed how dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) and 5G would be the tools to accomplish this. This is one of those edge-of-the-envelope applications that warrants 5G, and NYC certainly has the resources and need to bring this to fulfillment.
One of the hottest sessions was the one that discussed legals issue and FCC orders. The speakers included an impressive array of litigators and executives, including Johnathan Adelstein, WIA’s president and CEO. Other speakers were Marian Vetro, principal corporate counsel, T-Mobile; Teddy Adams, vice president of litigation, Crown Castle; Jason Caliento, executive vice president, Mobilitie; Joshua Breitbart, deputy chief technology officer, New York City; and Andrea Caldini, vice president network engineering east, Verizon Wireless.
While each speaker brought something pertinent to the table, the main topic was around how to bring the wonders of 5G to the populous while dealing with the many legal and technical issues.
One topic of discussion was around the smart city and how to bring its many elements together. Mainly how to forge cooperation between the tech and municipal elements and deal with the legal requirements. This is a real task for NYC. It is the perfect lair for becoming a smart city. It has much to gain and little to lose. Smart will go a long way in this place.
Other topics touched on include how to manage the process of master licenses and franchise agreements with municipalities and how to turn that into successful permitting. There was a discussion around working against the FCC’s shot clock and how that plays into 5G deployments. There was also a discussion around how the city’s assets will play into the deployment of next-generation networks and what it will take for collaboration to occur between such assets and service providers. The topic of how to assess fees and how to keep litigation to a minimum was another discussion.
There was talk in this session around interpreting the FCC’s rules, how to deal with thousands of municipalities, with just as many different rules and regulations. One enlightening discussion touched on the fact that 5G deployments will have many different faces and deal with many different scenarios in the deployment process – one size does not fit all. However, for things to work harmoniously across so many factions, a basic level of adherence must be in place.
One of the nice things about this conference was the variety of topics discussed. Not only were there legal, but education and financial as well. The conference seemed to touch on all the right areas.
The financial panel focused on, perhaps, the most critical issue of 5G deployments – how to finance it and find RoI. Now that much of the hype around 5G has dissipated, the reality check is that, at some point, it has to find verticals to support the technology.
The panel read like a who’s who of the financial ecosystem. This is New York where the brightest financial minds often live. Players included David Bronston, special counsel, Phillips Lytle; Jennifer Fritzsche, managing director, Wells Fargo Securities, SherAfgan Mehboob, managing director, Guggenheim Partner; Jerry Sullivan, CEO, Strategic Wireless Infrastructure Fund; Rory Hunter, investment professional, iCon Infrastructure; Madonna Park, managing director, RBC Capital Markets, and Brian Goemmer, president, Allnet Insight & Analytics.
Much discussion surrounded the cost of deploying 5G and how to recoup those infrastructure costs. 5G, in itself, will not be a revenue generator. What it can enable, will. That was a large segment of the session with each individual adding their view of how this will all play out.
Without drilling down too far, because there was so much information presented, the takeaway was that infrastructure providers must find verticals that can add value to the network. Some of that is highly visible, like mergers between carriers and content providers. Others are below the surface, such as the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX), edge networks, and virtual “X” reality.
Interestingly, public safety is showing up at more and more of these specialized conferences. Of course, New York has a special interest in this, as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were the springboard for the security landscape of the 21stcentury.
Rich Berliner moderated the session. Speakers included David Cook, senior public safety advisor, First Responder Network Authority covering the states of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; John Foley, general manager, Safer Buildings Coalition; Dominic Villecco, president, V-COMM, Nick Nilan, director of product development for public sector, Verizon; and Fred Scalera, market development manager-firstnet initiative, AT&T.
One of the hot topics around public safety is data – knowing where things and people are. That is much more possible with 5G. In a dense city, such as New York, having a ubiquitous wireless network that public safety can use to see every nook and cranny is paramount – FirstNet promises that.
A significant element of ubiquitous wireless coverage in first responder networks is location and that was one of the topics heavily discussed. The point being that not only location is critical, but so are the communications at the location. As well, NYC is a highly vertical city. That means it has more in-building wireless challenges than most. To address that, it has developed its own in-building repeater. The trick is how to integrate such specialized devices into 5G and first responder networks.
There was much discussion around that. While New York is unique in this, for now, it is a given that other landscapes will have both similar and dissimilar situations. Other discussions were around how this specialized public safety hardware will be integrated emerging and next-generation networks not interfere with public/private networks.
One very interesting discussion, within this session, that piqued everyone’s ears was around the state of FirstNet’s deployment status. One of the panelists said it all when he noted that the completion of FirstNet is a long way away, yet we are a long way into it. However, there is a FirstNet presence up and running in every state, to some degree, so it does have traction.
There was much more discussion about where FirstNet is going, what it is supposed to do, ultimately, and how the segment is going to get there. One concern that was addressed repeatedly was the issue of places where AT&T equipment was not installed. The response was that with emerging and next-generations of equipment, it would be able to fall back to other networks if the primary network was not available.
That is, generally, not the case now because public safety radios have different physical requirements depending upon the application (fire, police, EMS, federal services, etc.). Yet, in the end, upwards of 50 percent of first responders use non-traditional devices in any number of scenarios. A notable statement that came from this session is that FirstNet is not meant to replace public safety communications. It is meant to augment them.
This session covered a lot of ground and did an excellent job of unpacking the current state of FirstNet. It was, brutally honest in its presentation of how well AT&T is progressing according to the contract. Still, it is a monumental undertaking and there are so many pieces to the puzzle. In the end, if FirstNet lives up to its potential and promise, the U.S. public safety network will be the model of a national, fully integrated, public safety communications system. In the end, the major takeaway from this session was that this is very much a work in progress and things will be fluid for some time to come.
“The Innovations That Will Bring 5G to New York” session was the “feel good” session of the conference. It was more about what is on the cutting edge, in New York, taking place in the wireless landscape.
Presenters included Paul Eisenberg, principal, Repeater Communications Group; Tim Ayers, senior vice president, service assurance, ExteNet Systems; Ray LaChance, co-founder & CEO, ZenFi Networks, Alexander P. Gamota, senior vice president & general manager, information & communication technologies, Bigbelly; Christopher Levendos, vice president network engineering & operations, Crown Castle; and Tom Ellefson, senior vice president, northeast region engineering, T-Mobile.
Much of this session discussed what is being done to support the 5G landscape – technologies, hardware, infrastructure and the like. It was mostly an update on where things are and what can be expected as the 5G ecosystem rolls out.
One of the more lengthy discussions was around how to deploy the next generation of the RF environment in an ultra-dense space. This is where New York becomes the poster child. New York presents a difficult environment to offer ubiquitous coverage, without blanketing the city in RF energy.
In the end, New York is like no other city in the world. When it comes to RF, it poses such a unique environment that it is the perfect petri dish for so many wireless platforms, systems, technologies and more. NYSWA did a marvelous job of tackling the key issues of the city as well as 5G and radio networks, in general. To take, and slightly modify a line from a very famous song about the city: if I make it work there, I can make it work anywhere… New York, New York!