Strategic Venue Partners (SVP), the newly hatched provider of wireless infrastructure investment and services for enterprise real-estate venues, has added infrastructure investment veteran Justin Marron as CEO.
Marron has 18 years of experience in the fields of corporate finance, wireless infrastructure operations and renewable energy development. He has held senior management/ownership positions at such firms as Altus Power America, Wind Farm Capital and Wireless Capital Partners.
He joins Rich Grimes (COO) and Chad Aaron (CFO), to complete the senior leadership team at SVP. Tiger Infrastructure Partners, a mid-market private equity firm that invests in infrastructure platforms, is SVP’s financial partner.
Strategic Venue Partners is focused on enabling wireless infrastructure in venues that are not able to depend on carriers for capital contribution. Working on behalf of the asset owner, SVP attempts to make the participation of the carriers at those venues more likely. In a recent phone interview, Grimes explained the nascent company’s mission.
“We are a business partner of the venue that enables the wireless system by taking the technology and capital risk. There are huge opportunities to partner with the venue,” Grimes said.
SVP’s role is to enable the venue to deploy wireless for the fans, tenants, doctor and nurses. Whoever uses their facility. In order to do that, it funds the system up front and allows the venue owner to pay the use of the system as an operating expense instead of a capital expense.
“Carriers’ resources for funding in-building wireless in venues are finite,” Grimes said. “It is a difficult business model for the venue to expect the carriers to provide the capital investment for that wireless infrastructure. It is not going to happen. It will be limited to the venues that have the leverage to command that carrier contribution.”
When you go beyond the really large stadiums, carriers are looking for the wireless system to be enabled by the venue owner or someone else,” Grimes said. “We bring together some seasoned industry expertise and with a well-respected capital partner to execute on those deployments.”
SVP invests capital, deploys the system, manages it and performs technology upgrades for a monthly or an annual managed services fee.
“It is becoming more and more critical for a venue to have wireless service as a differentiator as they compete in the marketplace, but it makes more sense for them from an ROI standpoint to fund the wireless system as a operating expense, as opposed to a capital expense,” Grimes said.
SVP’s goal is to create a long-term, sustainable business model for middle-size enterprise wireless deployments across all verticals. Deals will be announced in the “very near future.” Currently, it has several projects that are difference phases of development.
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. Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 23, 2017 —
Former inSite Wireless Group COO Rich Grimes and Chad Aaron have formed Strategic Venue Partners (SVP), a company focused on enterprise in-building DAS, focusing on major and mid-sized enterprises and real estate assets, in addition to public-private projects and locations that align with wireless carrier coverage priorities.
Vertical markets that will targeted include medical facilities, sports/entertainment, hospitality, universities, Class A office space, high-rises, mixed-use developments and retail space.
SVP will provide customized licensed cellular and unlicensed systems across multiple venues, as well as consulting services, engineering, design, construction, implementation and ongoing management and ownership.
Tiger Infrastructure Partners, a mid-market private equity firm that invests in infrastructure platforms, is funding the venture. In addition to securing a substantial financial commitment from Tiger which will be deployed in wireless infrastructure for the benefit of SVP’s customers, the company has also formed several strategic alliances with some of the most highly-regarded companies in the business. These alliances will help provide technology solutions, long-term customer support to clients and opportunities to expand the SVP platform of solutions.
DALLAS — May 25, 2016 — One of the sessions at the Wireless Infrastructure Show dealt with emerging technologies and their implications for wireless infrastructure. Ron Mudry, president of Tower Cloud, led the session. He described how backhaul is evolving to meet the needs of emerging technologies, saying there is adequate backhaul in most markets and even in rural areas.
“What we’ve seen lately is Verizon moving from lit service to dark fiber,” Mudry said. “Many dark fiber builds are going on around the country. It’s a big initiative that is putting a lot of infrastructure in the ground. The previous fiber build is nearly 20 years old, dating to the dot-com era.”
Mudry said wireless carriers have been densifying their networks because of capacity constraints. “They’ve added a lot of macro towers,” he said. “That’s provided a lot of the growth for backhaul providers and others in the industry. Now we’re seeing that shift a little to bringing capacity with small cells and mini-macros and centralized radio access network (C-RAN) technology.”
Dr. Rikin Thakker, a research assistant professor at the University of Maryland, said that cellular network operators have enough RF spectrum to serve their networks, for now. He said that operators say they need more spectrum because of a forecast rise in data demand. But research indicates other substitutes for spectrum.
“Macrosites are not going away, even though we are talking about the Internet of Things, 5G cellular technology and small cells,” Thakker said. “Macrosites will play an important role, and that could be a good substitute. Increases in efficiency with technology decrease the burden on spectrum. Wi-Fi offloading has kept the demand on licensed spectrum lower. Just increasing macrosites by 5 percent could lower the need for licensed spectrum by 98 megahertz.”
Aaron Blazer, a senior partner at Atlantic ACM said the network operators’ end-user revenue comes under pressure as competition increases. The result trickles down into infrastructure. “Operators pay attention to operating expense and the ability to deploy capital on infrastructure,” he said. “When spectrum is tapped, you look for the most efficient way to boost the network. Deploying more macrosites is a business model that carriers understand. The economics of backhaul and macrosites are well understood.”
Blazer said that when macrosites aren’t enough, non-macro densification emerges in the form of small cells and outdoor distributed antenna system (DAS) networks. He said another alternative is C-RAN technology, where operators use remote radio heads with a centralized baseband unit to make more efficient use of spectrum. He explained that a heavy fiber component changes the cost structure, especially a dark fiber component, and sometimes fiber is not available.
“After that, we see operators looking to Wi-Fi and other offloading strategies to support the network,” Blazer said. “But Wi-Fi comes third because it is not always seen as a carrier-grade technology.”
Rich Grimes, the chief operating officer of the DAS and Small Cell Group at InSite Wireless, said the carrier market for in-building DAS is finite. According to Grimes, from a carrier perspective, venue revenue-sharing is questionable. He said there is higher scrutiny for lower-capacity venues, and more cost-effective solutions will be used.
“In the forecast for DAS, capital spending for this year is pegged at about $4.8 billion and rising about 28 percent per year to more than $16 billion in 2020,” Grimes said. “A focus we’re all seeing is on reduced cost for in-building wireless systems. Also, fiber will become increasingly available to commercial buildings, and third parties in the enterprise will take a greater role in deploying DAS with the carriers’ focus being more on the capex for the LTE-Advanced roll out and small cell preparation for 5G.”
Kishore Raja, director of strategic programs at Boingo Wireless, categorized emerging technologies in three domains.
“Number one is the process of natural evolution within the licensed spectrum,” he said. “You have macro towers, and you have DAS, which augments existing towers. You have small cells, which augment by adding capacity and coverage. Number two is emerging technologies on unlicensed spectrum, such as seamless Wi-Fi access to networks. Number three is emerging technologies in the area that bridges licensed and unlicensed spectrum, such as LTE-U[unlicensed], LAA [License Assisted Access], LWA [LTE – Wi-Fi Link Aggregation] and muLTEfire. MuLTEfire provides LTE-like performance with Wi-Fi-like simplicity.”
Robert Long, director of sales at Crown Castle International, said that regardless of the path it takes, the need for more infrastructure will continue. “By 2018, 4G data use is expected to increase by a factor of 10,” he said. “Cell phone data use will increase by a multiple of six. Add the Internet of Things, smart cities and autonomous vehicles. Providing a solution that’s sharable, whether it’s fiber, towers or small cells, if it’s sharable, it’s much more economical for the service providers.”