June 22, 2017 —
At the Wireless Infrastructure Show (WIS) in Orlando last month, Jonathan Adelstein said he places a high priority on fixing legislation that calls for the marking of many rural telecommunications towers as aviation hazards. Adelstein heads the Wireless Industry Association (WIA), a membership organization that owns WIS.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who spoke at WIS as well, cited research indicating it could cost as much as $750 million to paint the many thousands of towers affected by the legislation, with repainting every seven years or so. The legislation addresses the hazard to pilots of aircraft used for crop dusting posed by temporary meteorological testing towers, but that perhaps inadvertently applies to telecom towers, too.
Although no one wants to put pilots at risk, another factor involved is the risk placed upon workers who would have to climb the towers to paint them.
O’Rielly said, “It is without question that there have been accidents involving crop dusters. But, it doesn’t appear that communications towers are to blame one iota.”
The commissioner also pointed to a possible unintended consequence that the added cost of painting towers could discourage broadband network construction in rural areas, limiting rural economic development and stymieing smart agriculture.
At the table where I sat, listening to the commissioner, two managers with one of the three public tower companies nodded their heads in agreement when O’Rielly said the escalating costs of the tribal approval process for towers represents a problem the FCC should address.
“One provider reports that, in 2011, they were paying an average of $439 in tribal review fees per site, and now they pay on average $6,754,” O’Rielly said. “That’s almost a 1,500 percent increase. And, more tribes have been expressing interest. For instance, 19 tribes responded to an application to add an antenna to a building in Cleveland and 39 tribes, of which 27 demanded fees, wanted to review sites in suburban Chicago. This is not economically sustainable. Further, tribes are receiving the payments, but then never respond as to whether there is actual concern, causing endless delays.”
I asked the commissioner how much power the FCC has to reduce tribal approval costs. He said the FCC has some authority and has a role to play. He said the FCC also has an obligation to inform Congress of the need for changes to the statute. O’Rielly said he has testified before Congress about it.
Relief may not come soon, but we hope that one day it will come.
June 15, 2017 —
Along with all the good news about network densification, FirstNet, Smart Cities and 5G comes fears that the wireless infrastructure industry won’t have enough properly trained crews to safely and effectively build out these networks.
To fill these needs, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) has launched the Telecommunications Education Center (TEC) (www.tec-online.org), which features training through multiple venues, including traditional classroom instruction, in-the-field training and online.
Announcing the program at Wireless Infrastructure Show in Orlando last month, WIA CEO Jonathan Adelstein said that TEC is the first initiative to target wireless infrastructure programming.
“TEC will provide a host of professional development and training programs designed to empower individuals and strengthen companies within our industry,” he said. “I don’t have to tell you that your most valuable assets are your employees. You need to keep them trained — and also provide them with the professional development opportunities they need to grow their careers.”
TEC aims to improve safety and quality, reduce costs of wireless infrastructure deployment and address existing skills gaps to meet the needs of companies deploying next-generation network technologies, according to Tim House, WIA executive vice president.
WIA worked with universities, its members, subject matter experts, and education consultants to develop the courses. Subjects introduced in the initial phase of 14 TEC courses will cover both wireless fundamentals and advanced topics including: wireless theory; macrocellular Infrastructure; an small cells and DAS classes; WiFi; and 5G. Additionally, several courses will cover tower safety. TEC courses also can be customized to meet organization-specific professional development and training needs.
“We are collaborating with the best and brightest to create a dynamic educational and training curriculum that will have a direct and lasting impact for years to come,” House said.
For example, the session titled “Wireless 101” was designed to familiarize participants with practical aspects of wireless systems and their industrial applications. “DAS and Small Cell Basics” covers the fundamentals and applications of each tool. “Wi-Fi Fundamentals” teaches basic 802.11 wireless networking terminology and functionality as well as engineering concepts, troubleshooting and business practices.
Progress in the development of in fifth generation wireless will be covered in “5G Outlook” as well as the market forces driving the new standard. “Macro Site Fundamentals” will introduce theories relating to design, planning and maintenance of cell towers.
“We have big plans for TEC, so look for more announcements in coming months as we launch additional programs and courses to meet the industry’s specific needs,” Adelstein said.
WIA partnered with Virginia State University to pilot the TEC program and will also work closely with the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), the U.S. Department of Labor, and the FCC to provide applicable contact hours earned with course and training completion.
TIRAP Gains Traction in Promoting Telecom Apprenticeships
TIRAP and WIA announced on June 15 that 11 companies have signed agreements to be Participating Employers in its telecom apprenticeship program. This pledge from private businesses will accelerate the fulfillment of TIRAP’s goal to address the skills gap in the telecommunications industry by adopting an apprenticeship model, which is new to the industry.
WIA was named the National Sponsor for TIRAP in March 2017 now coordinates a host of activities for Participating Employers to ensure that apprenticeship programs are developed, monitored and measured effectively. This supports the Trump Administration’s announced intention to shift certification of federally funded apprenticeship programs from the Department of Labor to industry participants, including trade associations.
“All of these workforce development programs will support apprenticeships, which are perfectly suited for the wireless industry,” Adelstein said. “Apprenticeships will promote safety, enhance quality and open advancement opportunities for our workers. Best of all, WIA can help you identify resources that will can pay for your training efforts.”
The newly-expanded list of companies participating in TIRAP now includes:
June 15, 2017 —
Marshall has served on the WIA Board of Directors since 2010. He joined American Tower in 2007 as executive vice president, international business development. Before that, he was CEO of National Grid Wireless, a comm-infra provider in the United Kingdom.
The WIA Board of Directors also elected David Weisman, head of Insite Wireless, as Vice Chairman; Jeffrey Stoops, head of SBA Communications, as Secretary; and Jay Brown, head of Crown Castle as Treasurer.
The selection of new Officers of the Board of Directors followed the formal acceptance of the results of the Association’s 2017 Board of Directors Election. In addition to the elected Officers, the elected Board of Directors includes Richard J. Byrne, of TowerCo LLC, Alexander L. Gellman, Vertical Bridge, and Thomas A. (Tam) Murray, Community Wireless Structures. The Board also appointed Ed Farscht, Diamond Communications, to serve as a Director.
May 30, 2017
On the heels of the FCC’s adoption of the “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposed rulemaking, which proposes to end utility-style regulation of the internet, FCC Comm. Mignon Clyburn said she will work to continue Title II regulation of the internet, known as net neutrality, and ensure that communities can continue to rely on the internet as the “preeminent engine of innovation and opportunities.”
On the third day of the Wireless Infrastructure Conference, May 24, in Orlando, Florida, Clyburn spoke out against the so-called fast lanes reserved for those willing to pay more and preferences for those with business relationships with an internet service provider, which many say will be the result of killing net neutrality.
“And the 2015 Open Internet Order reflects a long-standing commitment shared by millions of Americans to protect a platform that inspires innovation and entrepreneurship, fosters freedom of speech and expression, and stimulates incentives for investment,” she said.
Clyburn passionately preached about the importance of broadband internet access to communities so that children can do homework, the unemployed can apply for jobs, the sick can obtain health care, and entrepreneurs can drive the economy.
“So as far as I am concerned – broadband is where we must all start,” she said. “To have an educated, competitive workforce in this century and beyond, we must ensure that everyone in our communities truly has access to broadband service, for all of the infrastructure builds in the world will not enable access if the service is not affordable.”
Clyburn said she met a man during a visit to skid row in Los Angeles who told here if he did not have an email address, he would have no address at all.
“That is just one example of how important connectivity is and how important it is for that person to be connected to the goods and services that will improve their life,” she said. “I think we all benefit when there is an open platform.”
Clyburn rejected the viewpoint that the internet would be better off without any regulation.
“What we have been the beneficiaries of in terms of this enabling platform did not happen by accident. It happened because there was a framework of rules that were codified,” she said. “People keep forgetting that all these things that enabled you to connect came about because there were clear rules of the road.”
As to what will happen next, Clyburn said she hopes “cooler heads” will prevail, but she will wait to see the record that is created by comments in the proceeding (FCC-17-60). There also could be a legislative solution that could restore federal regulation to the internet, she said.
Private investment in wireless infrastructure, if unfettered, will have a huge impact on the U.S. economy across the next five years, according to a study released by PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association.
PCIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein announced the report’s findings, at the AGL Regional Conference in Chicago.
The study, titled “Wireless Broadband Infrastructure: A catalyst for GDP and Job Growth 2013-2017,” looked at the direct and indirect benefits of wireless infrastructure development, projecting mobile broadband investments of between $34-36 billion per year that will serve as a catalyst for between $863 billion and $1.2 trillion in economic development. The impact on the overall economy is estimated to be an increase in GDP in 2017 of 1.6 percent to 2.2 percent or between $259.1 billion and $355.3 billion.
“That means the wireless industry will generate 606 percent more for the economy than it invests,” Adelstein told an audience of 200. “That is pretty good bang for the buck…or for the billions in this case.”
The report, produced by Information Age Economics, said more than 28,000 jobs in 2017 and more than 122,000 jobs in the next 5 years will be created in the wireless infrastructure industry alone. Overall, including indirect impact, 1.2 million net new jobs will be generated, even with the potential job losses due to increased productivity.
“We are talking jobs when this country most needs them and economic growth when the rest of the world is taking steps to make sure their countries are competitive,” he said.
Adelstein said it was time for the wireless industry to receive it due as a catalyst for efficiency and an enabler for job growth. The data from the report will be used by the association convince government officials of the economic benefits of zoning ordinances that enable the siting of wireless infrastructure.
“It is high time we put some numbers on [the wireless revolution],” he said. “These are numbers we can use again and again as we fight to get wireless infrastructure sited and built out as soon as we can to meet the demand,” he said. “We are going to say, ‘you gotta stay out of our way and let us build these networks.’”
Adelstein discussed some changes to wireless regulation, which the association supports, dubbed “4G Policies for a 4G World,” which would:
· Recognize that small cells and distributed antenna systems, the face of next-generation networks, should not be subject to the same environmental and historic preservation regulations as their tower cousins;
· State that carriers should not have to provide proof of need when deploying a wireless facility;
· Facilitate the efficient use of existing support structures, including towers, buildings, water tanks, and utility poles, to ensure that coverage and capacity can be delivered as quickly to all parts of our country with minimal impact.
A copy of the IAE report is accessible online at www.pcia.com.