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Wireless Industry Mourns Loss of Jake MacLeod to COVID-19

From the Editors


John Steven “Jake” MacLeod, a long-time communications industry veteran who held positions at Powerwave Technologies, Bechtel and Hughes Network Systems in network design, deployment and operations, died from pneumonia and COVID-19 on Friday.

Ted Abrams of Abrams Wireless, gave this remembrance, “Jake MacLeod, my friend and brother, will be long remembered by wireless veterans as a legend in the industry. I miss him already.”

Jake was a thought leader who gave generously of his time and talent to the wireless industry as he eased into retirement, writing white papers for the Wireless Infrastructure Association. He headed WIA’s Innovation & Technology Council (ITC) when it launched in 2016.

“Many of us at WIA and among our members are deeply saddened over the passing of Jake MacLeod,” said Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of WIA. “Jake was big and strong of body, mind, spirit, and character. Losing a man so large leaves an unfillable void. Under his leadership, ITC produced major white papers that had a big impact not only for our diverse membership and industry, but also to policy makers and regulators in Washington, D.C., and in states and municipalities across the country.

“It’s testament to Jake’s stature and the respect with which he was held that he was able to convene and inspire subject matter experts to share their time and knowledge with the greater wireless community. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and will work with his many friends to find a way to honor his memory at the appropriate time when we best can,” Adelstein added.

Jake was a helpful source to AGL Media Group for news articles and spoke at numerous AGL regional meetings. He was always willing to help the organization with its mission of educating the wireless industry. His manner was warm and avuncular.  He had a home-spun way of talking about technology that made it feel more like he was swapping hunting stories.

Most recently, he began Gray Beards Consulting in 2009 to provide consulting services to government and commercial entities regarding communications network design, deployment and operations.

Before that, he served as executive vice president of the Government Solutions Business Unit (GSBU) for Powerwave Technologies, which focused on the public safety, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense markets. Jake spearheaded the public safety DAS network design and deployment plans for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System program, the predecessor to FirstNet.

Jake spent 10 years with Bechtel as principal vice president, chief technology officer and Bechtel Fellow, where he was responsible for the development of Bechtel’s network planning and network optimization engineering teams of more than 150 people. His many accomplishments include:

  • He proposed the Iraq Rapid Reconstruction Plan for Communications Networks (wireline and public safety wireless) and led the team of specialists in Baghdad to execute the plan.
  • He was responsible for the design and development of Bechtel’s communications laboratories at Idaho National Laboratories and at Bechtel in Frederick, Maryland, which provided applied research and product development services including analysis and characterization of UMTS, HSDPA, Node B Hotels, WiMAX and DAS.
  • He led a team that analyzed smart grid technologies and data centers.
  • He directed the development of the virtual survey tool, an automated GIS-based network-planning tool. He conceived and produced the Bechtel Communications Technical Journal, an authoritative technical publication focused on operations issues.

Prior to Bechtel, Jake spent nine years with Hughes Network Systems where he designed and deployed advanced wireless communications technologies in Russia, the United States and Indonesia. Jake started his career as a transmission engineer in 1978 with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in San Antonio, Texas.

Jake’s celebration of life and love will be at 11:00 am Central, Jan. 14.  You may live-stream the service at:


Log in just moments before 11:00 and the live-stream will be available.

The Coming Revolution in the Internet of Things

By J. Sharpe Smith

A revolution has begun in communications, and it is changing everything. Advances in the internet protocol, the fifth generation of wireless and artificial intelligence will coalesce into nothing short of a societal shift, according to Jake MacLeod, principal, Gray Beards Consulting.


“Like when cellular changed the way we do business and changed the way we live, 5G will open up tremendous, tremendous opportunities for new entrepreneurs and new business lines,” he said.

Business applications will make up 60 percent of the IoT market and 40 percent will be consumer by 2020, according to analysts. The business segment includes public service, manufacturing, cities, energy and retail.

“For business, the intent of IoT is to lower the operating costs, increase productivity and expand into to new markets with new product offerings. For government, it is the same but the third objective is to improve the quality of life of the citizens,” MacLeod said.

What does IoT mean? It’s basically a growing number of smart devices, primarily sensors, collectively transmitting a ton of information over wireless networks onto the internet. The IoT market was reported to be $650 billion in 2015 by analysts.

But all that data isn’t worth that much unless there is the ability to analyze it. IoT will be driven by huge advances in the ability to process the data gleaned from the sensors through artificial intelligence (AI) from IBM’s Watson and Microsoft, among others.

“There is a tremendous amount of data being produced by IoT sensors. It is a gold mine for those who can mine it,” MacLeod said. “With AI in conjunction with IoT, a lot of those veins of gold are going to be exposed. They will be able to do a lot of things with it.”

The backbone needed to achieve the potential of IoT lies in advances the communications infrastructure industry, including the 5G protocol, more fiber-optic backhaul, and 10s of millions of sensors planted everywhere.

A new version of the internet protocol, Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6), has been developed for this vision of IoT to become a reality.  The current platform, Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPV4), has limits in terms of the number of web addresses it can handle. The internet of the future will have increased security and an almost unlimited supply of addresses to accommodate all of the sensors and sensor networks.

“IPV6 is a huge step forward,” MacLeod said. “The internet has to change too in order to handle the number of URLs and traffic needed for IoT. It needs a huge platform.”

The 5G protocol, which supports the enhanced mobile broadband and low latency, as well as massive IoT, is due out in 2020. Nearly 50 percent of fixed and mobile internet traffic will run on IPV6 by 2020 on a global basis, according to Cisco’s forecast. By 2021, there will be 4.6 billion global internet users and a far greater number, 27.1 billion, of networked devices and connections, the OEM said.

“The advent of 5G, IoT and AI will open up tremendous, tremendous opportunities for new entrepreneurs and new business lines,” MacLeod said.

Jake MacLeod, Gray Beards Consulting, will give the afternoon keynote, “The Internet of Things — Buckle Up for the Ride!” at the AGL Local Summit, Oct. 24, in Fort Worth, Texas.

J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence. 

AT&T’s 5G Roadmap Paved With NFV and SDN

By J. Sharpe Smith  

February 18, 2016 — AT&T has joined Verizon in testing the technologies that will be pillars of 5G — network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) – collaborating with Ericsson and Intel in the lab and outdoors and eventually in field trials in Austin, Texas, by the end of the year.

Ultra Dense 5G“These are the very first foundational steps toward 5G. NFV and SDN have to be there to set the table for 5G,” said Jake MacLeod, Gray Beards Consulting. “They are getting the network prepared for 5G. It will enhance the existing network, increasing speeds and reducing latency. But it’s not 5G.”

AT&T’s announcement follows the launch of the inaugural Verizon 5G Technology Forum last August, which brought together a more expansive group of OEMs, including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung and Intel, which joining them later. The forum will set up 5G network environments, or “sandboxes,” in Verizon’s Waltham, Massachusetts, and San Francisco Innovation Centers.

5G is a big part of this year’s Mobile World Congress pre-buzz from OEMs such as Nokia, which promised demonstrations of 5G-enabled autonomous cars, industrial networking, interactive virtual reality and other applications with “massive bandwidth capacity and virtual zero latency.” Not to mention a demo send data with speeds of 30 Gbps to an end user, and >1MM simultaneous connections in a single cell. But there is a long road of technology testing and trialing and industry standards work that must take place.

Moving Forward with Network Virtualization

AT&T’s 5G roadmap announcement is not a surprise. Its labs have been working on NFV and SDN — key ingredients of 5G – for years. In 2014, it announced plans to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020. It virtualized 5.7 percent in 2015, covering 14 million wireless customers, and expects to hit 30 percent in 2016.

“In the last few years, AT&T has been rethinking how companies should design and build their networks, according to an AT&T spokesman. “The traditional model relied on complex and cumbersome hardware. But that gear takes too long to deploy and too long to upgrade in the face of the customer demand the industry is experiencing. The future is software and our transformation is already underway.”

Building the 5G Standard

OEMs are currently building to the Third Generation Partnership Project’s (3GPP) Release 12 of the 4G standard, and Release 13 of the standard is expected in March of this year. Additionally, 3GPP’s 5G standard, which will spec out the wave form of the next generation of radios, is not expected to become a reality until 2020.

AT&T hopes that these trials to help the industry form its 5G standard, as well as setting the “stage for commercial availability” once 5G standards are set.

“We’re conducting our 5G trials in such a way that we’ll be able to pivot to compliant commercial deployments once 5G technology standards are set,” said John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations. “The international standards body, 3GPP, will likely complete the first phase of that process in 2018. Meanwhile, we continue to evolve our 4G network to deliver higher capacity and the best experience for our customers.”

Smaller Cells Lay Groundwork for 5G

Jake MacLeod, Gray Beards Consulting, said that 5Gs new moniker, Beyond 2020, may seem like a long way away but it isn’t and the wireless industry needs to be ready. MacLeod made that comment during the session, Strengthening Your Business in the Wireless Industry, Today and Tomorrow, at the AGL Conference in Nashville.

Jake MacLeod (4)


A number of companies have 5G in their crosshairs, according to MacLeod. “I spoke with one company that is going to spend $500 million to be the global leader in 5G,” he said. “They will be in all the planning meetings of the standards development group. There will be a huge, huge push for 5G in the next few years.”

How does this affect the tower industry? The carriers are beginning to incorporate it into their current network planning to be ready for 5G, which translates into small cell deployments, according to MacLeod.

“5G is going to require a very, very stable air link between the antenna point and the handset,” he said. “That lends itself readily to small cells. You have to get that radiator closer to the handset in order to stabilize the air link.”

The Telecommunications Industry Association is just now forming 5G standards groups, which represent an opportunity for the United States to take a leadership position. “We have been in the backseat for several years now,” MacLeod said.

The industry will experience obstacles providing power and backhaul for each access point as they deploy smaller cells at street level in street furniture, bus stops, stoplights and streetlights, he said. Additionally, from a safety standpoint, the antenna must not exceed the amount of radiation that is safe for public exposure.

“You can’t get fiber to every stoplight and you won’t be able to power everything,” McLeod said. “It is a real conundrum.”

Samsung Tests ‘5G’ WirelessTechnology

The greatest thing about wireless technology is also the most maddening thing about it, at least from the carriers’ viewpoint.  It marches continually forward. Never resting on its laurels. Before one generation of wireless is completely rolled out, the next one enters the technology pipeline, while carriers struggle to get their return on investment.

True to form, before 4G is even completely deployed, Samsung Electronics is already talking about the next big thing, to borrow a line from its commercials. The company announced that it has successfully developed a fifth-generation wireless technology, based on an adaptive array transceiver technology, which will boast transmission of up to several hundred times faster than current 4G networks.

Samsung’s 5G technology transmits data in the millimeter-wave band at a frequency of 28 GHz at a speed of up to 1.056 Gbps to a distance of up to 2 kilometers. Using 64 antenna elements, the adaptive array transceiver technology is designed to overcome the radio propagation loss at millimeter-wave bands.

“The millimeter-wave band is the most effective solution to recent surges in wireless Internet usage,” said Chang Yeong Kim, EVP, Samsung Electronics. “Samsung’s success…has brought us one step closer to the commercialization of 5G in in the millimeter-wave bands.”

At the projected speeds, Samsung’s 5G technology would allow users to transmit massive data files including 3D movies, games, real-time streaming of ultra-high-definition (UHD) content and remote medical services.

Jake MacLeod, Gray Beard Consulting, told AGL Bulletin that bringing 5G communications in the Ka band was “a big jump ahead.”

Research and development of 5G mobile communications technologies, including adaptive array transceiver at the millimeter-wave bands, will take seven years. Commercial product introduction is projected by 2020.

The term, “5G,” is only being used for marketing purposes, because the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has not approved a standard, according to MacLeod.  But Samsung’s role of being the first manufacture to market is an important one, he added. Samsung’s latest innovation is expected to invigorate research into 5G wireless and trigger the creation of international alliances for the long and involved standards process.

“From a historical perspective, this is very positive, because it puts pressure on other manufacturers to begin serious development in this area,” MacLeod said. “They don’t want to see a competitor jump out ahead of them. This is very good for the wireless industry.”

The competition for technology leadership in next-generation mobile communications development is getting increasingly fierce, according to Samsung.  China established a government-led “IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group” for 5G research in February 2012, while the European Commission also plans to invest 50 million Euros in 2013 to bring 5G services to the market by 2020.

The process of evolving from one generation to the next is hardly simple or clean cut. For example, the 4G LTE standard was proposed by DoCoMo in 2004 and it wasn’t until 2008 that the ITU set a standard, which called for 100 mbps for mobile and 1 gigabit per second.

“It is a long process that is required for global standardization. It takes years,” MacLeod said. “It goes through a huge negotiation process to hammer out what the technology is going to look like.”

After five years, LTE systems are still not operating anywhere near the levels specified by the LTE standards, according to MacLeod.

“We are still working out the bugs within the ITU spec for 4G,” he said. “We still have sub-generations within the 4G LTE that are not easy to deploy. Even voice over LTE is very difficult and problematic.”

New mobile generations have appeared about every 10 years since the first wireless phones came on the scene in 1981. Commercial 2G transmission originated in 1991 by Radiolinja, a Finnish GSM operator. NTT DoCoMo launched the first commercial 3G system in Japan in 2001.

“On average, the process of developing the next generation of wireless takes seven years, from conception to when all the bugs are worked out,” MacLeod said. “Then the technology operates for five years before the transition begins to the next generation.” Count on the carriers to hold onto their 4G LTE investment as long as possible, he added.

Thanks to 4G Americas for providing historical background on the standards development.