The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) has hired Sasha Galbreath and Marshall Miller to join its public affairs team, according to a statement from the association. WIA said that Galbreath and Miller, who have the title of public affairs manager, would manage the association’s external communications and promote its workforce development programs.
“Prior to joining WIA, Galbreath worked for Clyde Group’s public affairs practice, where she focused on several strategic communications efforts in a variety of industries,” the statement reads. “Galbreath started her career working in the U.S. House of Representatives, later serving as deputy director of communications for a congressional campaign in Maryland, operating crisis management and media outreach. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in government and politics and sustainability studies.”
WIA said that Miller previously worked for DDC Public Affairs, executing advocacy and issue campaigns for clients across multiple sectors, including technology. “Before DDC, he worked as a rapid response and research analyst for national campaigns and political parties,” the statement reads. “Miller graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in political science and English.”
Matt Mandel, WIA’s vice president of government and public affairs, said that, working together, Galbreath and Miller would further cement WIA as a leader in wireless policy and workforce development. “Sasha and Marshall’s extensive experience will carry the wireless infrastructure industry’s message to the media, Congress and stakeholders on behalf of WIA members,” he said.
Congress should provide technological flexibility in broadband infrastructure legislation, given the role wireless broadband connectivity should play in the infrastructure legislation the chamber has under consideration. That is what Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, told an audience as the featured speaker at the Media Institute’s Communications Forum luncheon today. A membership organization, WIA represents businesses that build, own and operate U.S. wireless infrastructure.
In expressing the need for flexibility, Adelstein said he drew upon his experience overseeing the Rural Utilities Service agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Obama-Biden administration and the lessons learned when distributing broadband funding during the Recovery Act.
“The bipartisan Senate group is charting a course that will get broadband deployed quicker and bring mobility along with high speeds to rural America, a course that will win the race to 5G,” Adelstein said. “A course that will create millions of jobs and over a trillion dollars in economic development. Congress and the administration are now positioned to enact a program that would achieve its goals more easily than if it depended on a single technology. By providing needed flexibility, the bipartisan agreement will be more likely to garner qualified applications for more unserved areas.”
The association executive said that as wireless connectivity is built to deliver service more quickly, it provides mobility, it serves public safety, it fights climate change and it is resilient when disaster strikes. Adelstein said that the bipartisan group wants to address these urgent needs by letting wireless compete for funding.
“The lesson of the Recovery Act is that Congress can’t assume funding with narrow strictures will achieve its vision,” Adelstein said. “I learned as an administrator that the agency doesn’t choose who applies. Agencies can only consider what comes through their door, and should only fund those operators that are not only willing, but able to demonstrate a plan that is both financially and technically feasible.”
Wake Tech will rise to new heights this summer, becoming the first community college in North Carolina, and only the third in the United States, to offer a Telecommunications Tower Technician program. The four-week pre-apprenticeship program, which launches June 21, is part of WakeWorks Apprenticeship and includes classroom instruction and on-the-job training at Tower Engineering Professionals (TEP), a prominent Raleigh-based telecommunications engineering firm. It’s designed to prepare students for high demand careers developing our nation’s 5G infrastructure and moving wireless telecommunications technology forward.
“TEP is excited to partner with Wake Tech on this initiative,” said Andy Haldane, CEO of Tower Engineering Professionals. “This is a great opportunity for future technicians to gain a leg up on competition as they enter the workforce and for us as a company to attract and retain new talent.”
Tower Engineering Professionals estimates that the company will need at least 150 new tower technicians each year for the foreseeable future.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Tower Engineering Professionals on this much-needed Telecommunications Tower Technician program,” said Wake Tech President R. Scott Ralls, Ph.D., who participated in a practice climb on June 3. “This is exactly what WakeWorks was designed for – to bring new opportunities that lead to greater economic mobility for Wake County residents and a stronger workforce for our community.”
WakeWorks Apprenticeship, funded by Wake County, will pay for tuition and other related expenses for students in the program.
Training will cover safety, rigging, fall protection, principles of electricity, fiber optics and wireless technology cell components. When students complete the program, they’ll be interviewed for Registered Apprenticeship opportunities at TEP, where they will be paid while receiving additional training on the installation, maintenance and repair of cellular, broadcast, utility and public safety towers.
“The rapid evolution of wireless technology, propelled by the conversion from 4G to 5G, has led to a major shortage in skilled tower technicians across the country,” said Todd Schlekeway, president and CEO of NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association. “I get calls from companies in search of qualified technicians on a weekly basis. NATE views community college programs like this one at Wake Tech as being vital to developing a future pipeline of skilled technicians that are necessary to accomplish North Carolina’s and the country’s ubiquitous connectivity goals.”
Tower technicians in North Carolina earn an average salary of $51,000 a year. Ideal candidates are those who love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and don’t have a fear of heights.
The deployment of 5G infrastructure is estimated to require $275 billion in investment, adding $500 billion in economic growth and creating 3 million new jobs across the United States. In addition to NATE, the new program is supported by the National Wireless Safety Alliance, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprentice Program. Colleges offering similar programs include Aiken Technical College in Aiken, South Carolina, and Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Tower Technician program is among nine WakeWorks Apprenticeship opportunities at Wake Tech. Other programs include automotive systems, apartment maintenance and building & code inspector, EMT/paramedic, electrical, plumbing and HVAC. WakeWorks funds cover tuition and most other expenses for students accepted into apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs. For more information visit wakeworks.waketech.edu.
Laurie Clowers is vice president of communications and marketing at Wake Technical Community College. Republished with permission from Wake Tech News.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has approved two new occupations for apprenticeship training through the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP). The new occupations are overhead utility installer technician and underground utility installer technician.
“Not only does this approval from DoL demonstrate that there is a national focus on the need to train for the jobs of tomorrow, but it also offers additional career pathways for those who want to enter the growth industry of communications,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “WIA, along with the Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA), is committed to launching, promoting and expanding apprenticeships to support workforce development in our high-growth industries. With DoL’s support, we’re able to expand opportunities for underrepresented populations and support long-term careers to cultivate diversity in the workforce.”
PCCA President and CEO Tim Wagner said that overhead and underground utilities are essential to both the national deployment of 5G wireless networks and modern electric power infrastructure. “Our members excel at these endeavors and now seek to build upon our success by partnering with WIA to develop and further expand our workforce to meet growing demands,” he said.
WIA is leading a national effort to expand the size, quality and diversity of the telecommunications industry workforce with partner organization PCCA. DoL has recognized WIA as the national sponsor of TIRAP and as the industry intermediary for telecommunications apprentice programs. DoL is supporting these efforts with significant resources to expand WIA’s TIRAP program. TIRAP offers 11 occupations within its training program. More than 33 employers and 2,000 apprentices are registered in TIRAP.
Graduates of TIRAP apprenticeships receive national, portable, industry-recognized credentials that certify proficiency in specific occupations. The Department of Labor data shows that 94 percent of apprentices retain employment after an apprenticeship program ends and lists additional benefits such as reducing turnover, improving productivity, and recruiting a skilled and diverse workforce.
Speakers gave upbeat assessments of the tower industry on the “View From the Top: Tower Executive Roundtable,” moderated by Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of the Wireless Industry Association during its Connectivity Expo earlier this week.
Earlier this week, which has been crowded with wireless news, FCC Chairman Pai announced that to receive approval from the FCC for the Sprint merger, T-Mobile had committed to deploying its 5G network into rural areas, with 85 percent of rural Americans covered within three years and 90 percent covered within six years.
Alex Gellman, Vertical Bridge CEO, said he believed even if the FCC had not required the rural coverage, the New T-Mobile would have done it anyway.
“I always believed that T-Mobile would be aggressive as a standalone wireless company post-merger,” Gellman said. “It will be a positive for the tower industry to have an aggressive, co-equal third carrier, especially one that is focused solely on wireless investment in their network. AT&T and Verizon, on the other hand, have competition from other segments for their capital.”
The previous day at the Connectivity Expo, T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray showed a graphic that depicted a three-layer 5G rollout cake with the bottom, largest layer consisting of 600 MHz spectrum, topped by mid-band spectrum layer with the top, and smallest, layer of millimeter wave spectrum.
David Weisman, president and CEO, InSite Wireless Group, responded to the carrier’s plans, saying he views the T-Mobile 600 MHz rollout as validation for macrocells, but he noted how far the industry still is from understanding what approval of the merger will look like.
“The Department of Justice has not spoken. When they do there will be a whole set of details and concerns as to how it is going to rollout. It may create a three and a half carrier environment. The devil is in the details,” he said.
Jeffrey Stoops, SBA Communications CEO, said T-Mobile’s proposed deployment at 600 hits SBA’s sweet spot, and he sees it resulting in a lot of collocation on existing SBA assets.
“T-Mobile, which is an active services client of SBA’s, will be requiring more services,” Stoops said. “We will help speed the deployment of the network so Neville won’t have to pay any penalties.”
Jay Brown, president and CEO, Crown Castle International, seemed less interested in prognosticating the future of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Instead, he noted that fundamentally the tower industry prospers when the carriers are well funded and there is spectrum to deploy, as well as growing data needs.
“The driver is the growth and usage of data. As we progress from a 4G environment toward 5G, we are better off concentrating on the opportunities and the need for infrastructure, regardless of the number of carrier customers in the market,” Brown said.
Speaking of wireless industry growth drivers, the panelists touched on the early stages of 5G development and the ongoing saga of Charlie Ergen, DISH and the deployment of a nationwide IoT network.
The tower industry is barely at the beginnings of what will be a decade long deployment of 5G, according to Steve Vondran, American Tower Executive VP, president, U.S. Tower Division.
“As you see the use cases develop and the usage of the network go up 30 to 40 percent per year, we expect the same evolution of 5G that we saw in 4G,” he said.
Brown pointed to increased number of connections per base station, which will be enabled with the 5G equipment, making Internet of Things applications possible.
“It opens up the business model for lower-use devices, as well as lower revenue devices that should allow the carriers to generate better economic returns for the spectrum that they hold,” he said. “As we see better economic returns, the carriers’ willingness to invest in their networks to improve their networks is a virtuous cycle that we all benefit from.
Stoops noted, and Brown and Weisman later agreed, that since there is little 5G equipment available, the driver for tower growth remains in the future. Weisman has seen some initial demand for supplemental millimeter wave hotspots for venues with heavy demand.
“It is great for our industry in that we are at this very early stage in the evolutionary rollout,” Weisman said. “We are going to see a whole host of rollouts that are going to lead to more utilization of our infrastructure. There is doubt that 5G has the potential to be part of a new industrial revolution.”
Weisman said he is confident that business cases for 5G will eventually be developed, perhaps through using network slicing to provide a premium product with a higher price tag, but until then carriers will need to work on their business model for consumer users. “It will come. There will be an Uber for 5G, but in the meantime carriers will move away from unlimited data. They can’t continue to give data way,” he said.
DISH and other Comm-infra Opportunities
SBA Communications has been doing a lot of business with DISH Network, helping it deploy its nationwide Internet of Things network. Stoops described DISH has appreciative of SBA’s help in its efforts to deploy its technology. Brown called DISH diligent in its buildout efforts, and Weisman referred to the company as a “sleeping giant with an enormous amount of spectrum capacity.”
“One of the things we have been able to help them with is to rely on our roots as a network development company with our services side of the business,” Stoops said. They have a lot at stake. We are working hard with them to see that the [spectrum buildout requirements] get met. There is a lot to be done and we are right in the thick of it.”
Brown said it is important to look beyond the Big Four carriers to find infrastructure opportunities so much spectrum laying fallow and capital flooding in looking for wireless applications.
“I think we are in for a prolonged duration of growth rate. Look at the amount of capital that is looking to convert every type of data into a mobile application. DISH is one of those early players,” he said.