The Senate has passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016, which reauthorizes the FAA and related programs through fiscal year 2017. Among other things, the bill, known as S. 2658, advances drone technology. In particular, language in the measure “addresses safety and privacy issues, boosts enforcement, and clarifies federal and local roles regarding drones while creating new opportunities for testing and promoting innovative uses of this technology, subject to FAA approval.”
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) supports the Senate’s efforts to enhance education and safety in the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), according to Executive Director Todd Schlekeway.
“NATE is extremely interested in the commercial application of Unmanned Aerial Systems technology,” Schlekeway said. “UAS can complement and enhance the safety and well-being of communication tower workers by minimizing the risks associated with climber fatigue, weather, and distractions, while reducing repetitive stress injuries. Moreover, they can cut costs and promote efficiency while assisting with tower inspections and surveys.”
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, spoke in support of removing barriers to innovation in UAS, while addressing safety risks. Specifically, he noted an incident where a Lufthansa Airlines A380 jumbo jet experienced a near miss with a drone that flew just 200 feet over the airliner.
“To keep drones out of the paths of commercial airliners, the Senate bill would implement standards so that existing safety technologies can be built into unmanned aircraft,” Thune said. “This legislation also takes steps to require drone users to learn basic “rules of the sky” so they understand the limits of where and when unmanned aircraft may operate. This is critical as we move into an era where drones share airspace with commercial aircraft, emergency medical flights, low-altitude agricultural planes, and general aviation pilots.”
The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Video Release Part of #ClimberConnection Campaign Series
(Anaheim, California) – The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) today released a Professionalism video as part of the Association’s Climber Connection campaign. NATE unveiled the video at the 2016 Wireless West Conference in Anaheim, California.
The video includes a testimonial from a tower climber discussing the characteristics that make up a professional elevated worker in the industry. The video highlights the important role that professionalism plays in establishing a culture of safety and quality within a tower crew, a contractor company and among a company’s client base. The Professionalism video also includes footage of a tower crew effectively communicating and establishing a respectful rapport with each other at the tower-site.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I took a job as a tower climber, but I learned from day one that it was more professional than I could have ever imagined,” said Justin Bronsert, a tower climber at B+T Group. “Right from the beginning starting with the training process, you learn that being a professional is a huge part of the job. It definitely makes you take more pride in your work,” added Bronsert.
“With the ever-evolving technology of today, tower climber requirements keep rising and so too should the professionalism to ensure job safety and efficiency,” stated Jeff Stach, B+T Group’s Director of Audits and Inspections.
Click HERE to watch the Professionalism safety video. NATE encourages tower climbers and all wireless industry stakeholders to actively participate in this campaign by posting the Professionalism video on their respective social networking platforms using the hashtag #ClimberConnection. NATE also encourages tower climbers to share their industry safety tips through social interaction on the Association’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Climber Connection campaign was developed by the NATE Member Services Committee in conjunction with the NATE Safety & Education Committee and is designed to provide specific resources and communicate the Association’s message directly to the industry’s elevated workforce. A central element of the campaign is the official release of twelve Climber Connection safety videos; each focused on a unique safety topic or issue involving working at heights.
Visit HERE to access the PPE Inspection, 100% Tie-Off and Capstan Hoist & Rigging Safety videos that have been previously released as part of the Climber Connection campaign. For more information on NATE, visit www.natehome.com today.
(Watertown, SD) – The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) announced today that they will be hosting a South Regional Meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at the Texas Star Golf Course Conference Center in Euless, Texas. The South Regional Meeting will be the second regional event hosted by the Association over the course of the last nine months and will offer tremendous networking and professional development opportunities for meeting attendees.
The agenda for the NATE South Regional Meeting will feature a National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA) presentation by Phil Larsen (HAZON Solutions LLC); a Future of Mobility session by William Moten (TESSCO Technologies); a Tower Modifications and Inspections panel presented by Don Doty (FDH-Velocitel, Inc.), Gregg Fehrmann (American Tower Corporation), Gordon Lyman (eSystem Training Solutions), Pat Moore (FDH-Velocitel, Inc.) and James Ruedlinger (Crown Castle); and a keynote address entitled Protecting the Safety and Health of Communication Tower Workers by Stephen Boyd (Dallas Area Director, OSHA). Additionally, NATE will host a reception at the conclusion of the event to maximize networking opportunities for meeting attendees. The complete NATE South Regional Meeting event brochure is available for viewing on the Association’s website.
“Through the offering of our NATE Regional Meetings series, we are continuing our goal to support and build upon NATE within all the geographic regions in order to retain and recruit members,” stated Member Services Committee member Tommy Lewis from Hayden Tower Service, Inc. in Topeka, Kansas. “With the variety of hot-button topics to be presented by these industry professionals, I guarantee value for anyone who attends the NATE South Regional Meeting,” Lewis added.
As part of the announcement, NATE also unveiled premier sponsorship packages that are available for companies interested in sponsoring the NATE South Regional Meeting. Sponsorship packages ranging from $250 to $2,000 are available for companies interested in expanding their brand recognition and exposure. The sponsorship packages are expected to be in high demand and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities are encouraged to view the Regional Meeting Sponsorship Opportunities form.
The cost to attend the NATE South Regional Meeting is $50 per attendee. Interested attendees are encouraged to register for the NATE South Regional Meeting today by completing the registration form available on the Association’s website. All completed registration forms and payment should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the NATE office (8 Second Street SE; Watertown, SD 57201) by the registration deadline of Friday, May 27, 2016.
For more information on NATE and the South Regional Meeting, visit www.natehome.com.
March 15, 2016 — In the incentive spectrum auction slated for later this year, broadcasters will give up some or all of their spectrum in the 600 MHz band for a share of the proceeds when it is auctioned off. The post-auction transition of the broadcasters off those frequencies, known as the TV repack, is inviting many questions.
Tower crews are the linchpin to the success of TV repack. But are there enough of them to complete the job on time? The industry continues to debate how long it will take broadcasters to move to new spectrum or off the air entirely. And the number of available, well-trained tower crews is a key factor in making that happen.
Steve Berry, CEO, Competitive Carriers Association, told an audience at February’s annual conference of the National Association of Tower Erectors, NATE UNITE 2016, that a tight deadline was needed by the carriers in order to begin recouping money paid for the spectrum as quickly as possible. The FCC has set the deadline at 39 months.
“Having a deadline, like the 39 months, as set by the statute, benefits both sides involved in the incentive auction. Increasing the certainty when carriers can put spectrum to use — increases its value, ultimately leading to a bigger ‘incentive’ that can be paid to the broadcasters,” Berry said.
Berry said he understood NATE’s concerns about the safety of climbers, which will be under increased pressure to meet deadlines during the transition. “To be clear, the FCC has established reasonable alternatives for unique circumstances to address safety concerns,” he said. “I for one appreciate NATE’s concerns and would never suggest an unsafe transition activity.”
The National Association of Broadcasters funded a Digital Tech Consulting study, which projects the transition would take more than the 39 months and would cost between $1.98 billion and $2.94 billion, much more than the $1.75 billion authorized by Congress. The NAB challenged the FCC’s incentive auction in the District of Columbia Circuit Court and lost.
“The two most significant bottlenecks in the process will be the small number of qualified crews for implementing tower modifications and installing antennas and transmission lines, and an anticipated shortage of antennas,” according to DTC.
The study asserted that while 30 tower crews were active during the digital TV transition, only 13 qualified crews are active today with tower companies forecasting 16 crews in the near future to do repack work.
“These companies tell us that they are working now to identify as many qualified crews as possible, but have had little success in identifying additional possible crews due to the dearth of qualified foremen and trained workers,” DTC wrote.
With 16 qualified crews, 130 antenna installations can be changed out per year, DTC estimates. If it takes four months to get the repack started, that leaves 33 months during which no more than 360 antennas would be changed out. As a result, if the repack affects between 800 and 1,200 deployments, the study said that tower and antenna installations would take between 6.5 and 9.5 years to complete.
Berry respectfully disagreed with NAB/DTC, noting that spectrum auction expert Peter Cramton had been retained by CCA to develop a methodology that would measure tunable antennas, stations that can be repacked on the same channel, stations with in-range broadband antennas and stations with antennas less 350 feet.
“Looking at these factors, and other engineering submissions —it is realistic there will be up to 41 crews available to complete the work on tall antennas within the transition timeframe,” Berry said.
T-Mobile Study Evaluates Time, Resources Needed for TV Repack
Berry also pointed to T-Mobile’s study filed with the FCC on February 17, which evaluated the time and resources required to transition television broadcast operations from their current frequencies to a new band plan.
Broadcast engineering firms — Broadcast Tower Technologies and Hammett & Edison – were engaged by T-Mobile to look at the post-auction broadcast relocation process.
“Based on an exhaustive review of television broadcast license facilities and in-depth, nationwide analysis of available resources for the major stages of repacking — the study concludes that America’s broadcast industry can transition to a more spectrum-efficient band plan within the 39-month timeframe set by the FCC and within the $1.75 billion budget established by Congress,” according to T-Mobile.
In particular, the study asserted that the deadline will be met because not all stations will need new antennas and not all towers will require modifications, an adequate supply of broadband antennas exists, and adequate numbers of towers structural engineers and RF engineers are available.
Tower Companies Eye Repack Warily
Bob Paige, senior vice president, mergers and acquisitions at Vertical Bridge, wasn’t buying into the studies, saying that he believes NAB grossly underestimated the amount of manpower available. At the same time, he told an audience at NATE UNITE 2016 that he believes there will be a bottleneck created by all of the TV repack tower activity.
“Don’t confuse lobbying with the facts, but everything can’t get through the funnel at the same time,” Paige said. “At Vertical Bridge, we are the largest private owner of tall towers in the United States and we are spending a lot of resources internally making sure we have a number of tall tower crews dedicated to our needs, because we believe there is going to be a resource shortage when it comes to tall tower crews.”
American Tower Asks FCC for TV Repack Reimbursement Clarity
Representatives of American Tower met with the FCC staff twice last Fall, regarding the logistical challenges of the broadcast repack following the incentive auction, according to an Ex Parte filing.
American Tower has 153 towers with at least one full-power/Class A TV transmitter, 73 towers multiple full power/Class A TV, 65 complex sites (candelabra, mountaintop, broadband antenna) and 328 full-power and Class A tower leases.
American Tower said that while it has begun the planning process for the TV repack, more could be done if TV stations subject to repacking knew they would be reimbursed for expenses incurred prior to the 39-month repack period, known as “pre-implementation eligible expenses.”
“For example, we can perform pre-repack work such as tower mapping and structural analysis starting now if TV stations had clarity that expenses will not be rejected simply because the work was actually performed prior to the start of the 39-month buildout,” American Tower wrote in an Ex Parte filing.
(New Orleans, LA) – The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) honored Kevin Hayden, President of Hayden Tower Service, Inc. in Topeka, Kansas and Diane Mueller, Sales Representative for Primus Electronics in Shorewood, Illinois, during the Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, February 23 at NATE UNITE 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Kevin Hayden was honored as the recipient of the Bill Carlson Lifetime Service Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual who has made a significant and long-term contribution to the success of the NATE mission and has served the Association continually for a minimum of 15 years.
As President of Hayden Tower Service, Inc., Kevin has spent over 36 years in the tower industry. Mr. Hayden has been an integral part of NATE from the inception. As a Founding Member of NATE, he has served the Association’s membership in many capacities, including the Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors, a Director on the Board of Directors, and many committee leadership roles, including the Industry Relations Committee, Financial Investment Committee, Legislative & Regulatory Committee, and Insurance Committee.
“Kevin has served NATE members with complete integrity,” stated NATE Founding Father Bill Carlson of Tower Systems, Inc. “Mr. Hayden’s unparalleled leadership has helped mold NATE into the outstanding organization it is today, and his influence has left a lasting legacy on NATE since the day the Association was founded in 1995,” added Carlson.
Diane Mueller was honored as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. This prestigious award recognizes a past or present standing committee member who has demonstrated direct and individual contributions to the mission of NATE and whose performance has proven so exceptional that it profoundly affects the success of the Association.
As Sales Representative for Primus Electronics, Diane has spent 18 years volunteering on the NATE Member Services Committee. Ms. Mueller has served NATE’s membership in various other capacities, including playing an integral role in the formation of the first NATE Regional Meeting held in September 2015, as well as assisting the NATE Administrative Staff in coordinating and setting up the annual NATE UNITE Conference and Exposition.
“NATE has benefited immensely due to Diane’s enthusiastic ideas and tireless contributions,” stated NATE Member Services Committee Chairwoman Pat Miller. “Diane is a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Service Award and we are excited to be able to celebrate this honor with her,” added Miller.
The Bill Carlson Lifetime Service and Distinguished Service awards were made possible due to the contributions made by the NATE Member Services Committee and the awards are an annual fixture at the NATE UNITE event. For additional information on NATE, please visit www.natehome.com.