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What is the Impact of 5G on Carriers?

Elizabeth Katzki

Large carriers are racing to 5G with regular announcements about their progress. Standards are emerging, and mobile network operators (MNOs) should be capitalizing on this moment to own to the 5G space, shape the standards, and outsmart the competition. In order to do this, carriers must adopt processes that enable them to move quickly while providing a higher level of service and reliability to customers. This means aligning their processes with the technology they use to track projects and manage existing assets. This doesn’t just apply to projects the carrier manages directly, but that of their service providers, as well. The entire ecosystem a carrier creates and works with should be using the same processes and standards, managed on the same platform to ensure that the end result is a faster time to 5G coverage and reliable service for customers.

What is 5G and what telecom infrastructure is necessary to support it?

5G will deliver:

10X decrease  latency
10X connection density
3X spectrum efficiency
100X traffic capacity
100X network efficiency

T-Mobile’s John Legere says about their 5G deployment:  “It enables brand new IoT experiences, massive connectivity, smart cities, decade-long battery life, ultra-responsive networks, and increased speed, but it’s more than that – to fully unleash 5G requires a nationwide network.”

With staggering improvements such as these waiting to be tapped, it’s no wonder the race to 5G is heating up. 5G technology will enable a new age in the internet of things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and mobile device usage. From 1G to the development of 5G, we’ve gone from basic voice communication over wireless telecom infrastructure to virtually unlimited connectivity at previously unimaginable speeds. Each evolution of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards has brought new capabilities. At this juncture, there are two steps ahead of carriers:

Getting to 5G non-standalone coverage
Achieving 5G standalone coverage
So what do each of these mean and what telecom infrastructure is needed to get there?

5G Non-Standalone

The work to achieve a non-standalone 5G network starts with working to densify 4G LTE networks — this process is known in the telecom industry as network densification. Basing the first iteration of 5G on existing 4G technology will enable faster time to deployment.

This first phase of 5G deployment will be based on fixed wireless access, built on millimeter wavelength.  There are two frequency ranges that non-standalone 5G will use:

  1. 450 MHz to 6,000 MHz,  New Radio (NR), or sub-6GHz
  2. 24,250 MHz (~24GHz) to 52,600 MHz (~52GHz) or millimeter wave (mmWave)

This means that though speeds and efficiency will increase, connectivity may not be able to penetrate walls and other hard structures. This line of sight transmission will be a jumping point for 5G standalone technology.

5G Standalone

Standalone 5G will not be based on existing infrastructure but requires new telecom infrastructure deployment, including hardware, chips, modems, and antennas. The 5G standards set out by 3GPP require that new infrastructure is built to support a new kind of connectivity.

So, the difference between standalone and non-standalone 5G technology is that non-standalone builds off 4G’s existing infrastructure and standalone 5G requires completely new infrastructure with a new set of hardware standards.

What telecom infrastructure do carriers need to utilize and build to make 5G a reality?

To make 5G a reality, wireless carriers and their service providers will need to deploy small cells as quickly and strategically as possible, as well as make strides towards standalone networks. This means that the volume, variety, and velocity of projects is and will be increasing exponentially, whether that’s modifying existing infrastructure or building out new sites. Carriers with existing 5G spectrum are undoubtedly at an advantage, but there’s a wide range of spectrum that can be used for 5G, so there are a wide variety of hardware deployments needed.

So, the answer to the question, “What telecom infrastructure do carriers need to utilize and build to make 5G a reality?” is really:

It depends on the spectrum. There will be a wide variety of antennas needed to utilize the spectrum available for 5G. This means that getting to 5G will require more standardization than ever before because the types of projects will vary so greatly.

How will Mobile Network Operators standardize their processes to dominate the market with 5G coverage?

MNOs will need to get their deployment teams on the same page, including their service providers, to take advantage of the race to 5G, because this race is being run on many different tracks and requires hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of repeatable project processes. Carriers must choose a project management platform that will enable entire project teams to work together seamlessly.

What wireless carriers need to build the telecom infrastructure needed to enable 5G technologies?

As the race to non-standalone and, eventually, standalone 5G coverage continues to heat up, MNOs need to make sure that they are aligned internally and with their service providers on the processes necessary to build out telecom infrastructure. Wireless carriers must adopt processes that enable them to move fast and provide customers with the best possible and most reliable mobile connectivity.

To deploy telecom infrastructure effectively, carriers must align their processes with their technology. They need to involve their entire ecosystem — from CEO to field worker — to provide customers with the connectivity that, if they don’t get from one provider, they will look for in the next.

Telecom carriers are facing unprecedented challenges as they vie for the 5G coverage. They are making progress, but to out plan and outperform the competition, they will need to improve their processes.

Demo the project and asset management software that will get you to 5G, now.

Reprinted with permission from the Sitetracker website.

Elizabeth Katzki is Content Marketing Manager for Sitetracker, which is a sponsor and speaker at the AGL Newport Beach, California Summit.

Improved Project Management Key to Small Cell Rollout

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

If your company could perform work faster without losing track of details, it would make you more money, right? Efficiency leads to profit.

A panel at AGL Local Summit in Atlanta, Nov. 8, will examine the importance of efficient project management to meet today’s the tight deadlines and even tighter budgets that suppliers face with performing work for wireless carriers on towers and even more so with small cells being rolled out across the nation.

“Software as a service (SaaS) can help you automate, replicate and manage build-outs for small cells, macro towers and rooftop sites,” said Giuseppe Incitti, Sitetracker CEO, said. “SaaS hasn’t become a $181 billion industry for doing nothing.”

ZenFi Networks, a communications infrastructure company serving the New York and New Jersey metro region, announced today that it will use a software-based project management platform by Sitetracker to manage internal and external teams designing, building, and maintaining small cell and fiber assets.

Having recently merged with Cross River Fiber, ZenFi Networks now has 700 route miles of fiber-optic network, 119 on-net buildings, 47 colocation facilities and nearly 6,000 outdoor wireless locations under contract. Keeping track of all those facilities plus an accelerating workload of building more infrastructure was an imperative.

“We chose Sitetracker to help drive alignment across our operations by gathering data and updates from the field as projects progress,” ZenFi president and chief operating officer, Vincenzo Clemente, said. “The ability to track and report project and site data in real time greatly enhances our capabilities.”

ZenFi Networks is committed to meeting the demand for next generation network access by building, owning, and maintaining a world-class fiber optic network, distributed colocation, and wireless siting solutions for enterprise, carrier and wireless operators.

Cameron Galbraith, Sitetracker, will be a speaker on the AGL Atlanta Summit panel, along with Sonya Roshek, B+T Group; and Rob Tymchyshyn, FieldCLIX.

Sitetracker to Expand Internationally

Sitetracker has announced its expansion into Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, and the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. David George has been named vice president of EMEA & APAC to support the effort.

The company is opening an office in London to support these efforts and is actively hiring across all functions in the new location.  Additional locations will be announced later this year.

Before joining Sitetracker, David George was with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble where he served in a number of different roles, most recently as the General Manager of the Real Estate & Workplace Solutions division from the Trimble London office. Before that, he was in Beijing as General Manager of the Mobile Solutions division in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to joining Trimble, he spent several years at Ericsson where he was responsible for key commercial relationships at a number of global accounts such as Vodafone and France Telecom.

Late in August, Sitetracker announced $24 million in additional funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, Salesforce Ventures, and others to accelerate its product roadmap and global expansion.

Sitetracker provides companies in the telecommunications, utility, renewable energy, and smart cities industries with the ability to manage high-volume critical infrastructure projects.

Sitetracker Raises $24M to Advance SaaS

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Sitetracker, maker of software for managing high-volume infrastructure projects, has landed $24 million in Series B funding. The new investment round, led by existing investor New Enterprise Associates (NEA), brings six-year-old Sitetracker’s total funding to $35 million. Other investors include Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, Salesforce Ventures. The financing will be used to develop Sitetracker’s product and global expansion.

In the wireless infrastructure industry, Sitetracker provides a software platform for designing, deploying and maintaining macrotowers, small cells and fiber plant. Sitetracker’s platform, known as software as a service (SaaS), is used by Verizon, SAC Wireless, Tower Engineering Professionals and Advantage Engineers among others.

“Instead of providing an Excel spreadsheet with things to do on a project, we enhanced their workflow, so they can deliver projects on time and under budget,” said Brett Chester, Sitetracker’s VP marketing. “To do that, we automated the process. A project manager can set up alerts and triggers. Why can’t we empower our managers with the latest technology? In some instances, we have seen speed to turnkey increase 300 percent.”

Project management is becoming more and more of a challenge as the wireless industry shifts into high gear building out the hundreds of thousands of small cells that are estimated in the 5G future.

“We think about everything from the project or asset manager’s viewpoint in this ever-growing world of growing project volume, where we are moving from a three hundred thousand macrotowers to a projected nine hundred thousand small cells,” said Chester. “It’s roughly the same number of steps to complete a small cell. If we are going to get to that volume of small cells for 5G, then we need to find some efficiencies to allow for those high-volume projects to be completed.”

SaaS, which negates the need for on-premise software, has been growing rapidly for the last five years into a $181 billion industry, according to Sebastian Lambert, CEO of FinancesOnline. Chiefly because of global trends in cloud computer hosting, Cisco’s Global Cloud Index projects that 73 percent of all workflows will be delivered as SaaS by 2020.

“There are all manner of benefits that come with SaaS for different professionals,” Chester said. “Compared with on-premise software, SaaS allows more to be accessed anywhere at any time. It is updated more frequently so users are on the cutting edge of the latest technology.”

For mobile workers, such as the tower technicians, SaaS can be accessed easily and seamlessly by virtue of the fact that the software platform is hosted in an online datacenter, allowing workers to make live updates that can be seen in the home office almost instantaneously.

“The efficiencies are unparalleled. No one can keep up to date if there is a lag of three or four days, which is the way most on-premise software works,” Chester said. “One of the only issues that gets in the way of SaaS adoption is complacency. Workers are used to doing things the same way over and over for many years. SaaS has disrupted that paradigm.”

SaaS is evolving, as well. According to Lambert, 2017 was the year when software developers stopped producing systems that serve a single operation or single industry in favor of horizontal platforms that apply to multiple ecosystems.

“What does this mean? SaaS applications are targeted but not industry specific; and they are built to integrate with a large number of third-party solutions,” Lambert wrote.

SaaS products adopt Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions in 2018, according to Lambert, becoming a “disrupting influence not only on the SaaS market but on the way we do business in general.”

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 29 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.