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Controversy Buffets High School Wi-Fi Contract

State lawmakers became upset when Education Networks of America (ENA) was awarded a multi-year contract to supply Idaho high schools with Wi-Fi, even though funds had been appropriated for only one year.

Legislation was approved in the recent session for the state to pursue wireless for schools with grades nine through 12. The Department of Education of the State of Idaho then released a request for proposal on May 29, 2013, which called for a fixed price for the first five years of $2.25 million, and 5 percent increases every five years after that, totaling $35.47 million.

“We awarded a multi-year contract so we could provide the needed maintenance and to get the best price,” said Melissa McGrath, spokesperson, Department of Education. “Any time we sign a multi-year contract, it is contingent upon appropriation of funds every single year. Both the state and the vendor are aware that it can be canceled at any time if the state decides not to provide funding.”

McGrath said the process must change when legislation earmarks single-year appropriations for multi-year projects.

“Going forward, any time the state has to sign a multi-year contract as the result of language in legislation, the law needs to be much clearer so that both the state and the legislature better understand the path going forward,” she said. “We need to be on the same page. Clearly, there was some confusion, and we understand that.”

Work began in late July with the Wi-Fi service scheduled to be fully deployed in all Idaho schools by March 15, 2014. The RFP requires a fully managed wireless service, including content filtering, event logging, system implementation, user reporting and deployment management. The RFP also requires provision of 802.11X coverage (at a minimum a/b/g/n/and ac/ad when available), with the newest standards available at the time of award and periodic upgrades to the most current standards on a rotational basis once every 60 months or sooner.

It is not known how many systems will be deployed, but more than 110 school districts and public charter schools have decided to opt in for the state-provided Wi-Fi at this time. Wi-Fi systems have been deployed at two schools so far, and site surveys have been completed at four more.

“School systems have been asking for Wi-Fi from the state for years. A rural education task force met in 2008, and one of their recommendations was for the state to close the technology gap between rural and urban school districts,” McGrath said. “Schools want wireless because they are beginning to purchase tablets and laptops and are moving to a more mobile technology experience in the classroom.”

NASA Robot Goes Wi-Fi

Just think if Hal had been able to move around the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Obviously not movie buffs, NASA engineers are prepared to use Wi-Fi to allow their robotic astronaut or “robonaut” to move freely throughout the International Space Station (ISS).

The robonaut, which is currently bolted to a pedestal and connected with wires for power and control, will get a complete makeover including legs and batteries.  Control and monitoring will be provided to NASA via Wi-Fi using Digi International’s ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 wireless module.

The robonaut will be “free” to perform routine maintenance tasks, such as housekeeping and air quality testing in space. This will free up time for astronauts to conduct science experiments and other tasks.

The robonaut may be controlled from within the ISS or at a NASA mission control center on Earth. The wireless link will also transmit video from cameras on the Robonaut, allowing astronauts and NASA to see what the robot is seeing in real-time and control its actions. Eventually, the robonaut will be able to perform tasks outside the space station.

College Football, NFL Stadiums Upgrade to LTE

NFL and college stadiums that sported only 2G or 3G technology have gotten a DAS makeover to upgrade them to LTE. Similar to wireless systems across country, stadium DAS, some of which had only 850 MHz and 1900 MHz frequencies, will now access the 700 MHz and AWS bands in addition to replacing SISO antennas with MIMO.

“So we are adding frequencies and MIMO capability, which gives you a defined advantage in capacity and throughput,” said John Spindler, TE Connectivity director, product management, in-building DAS.

TE Connectivity has been busy this summer outfitting 13 college and pro stadiums, including MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and the New York Giants and site of the 2014 Super Bowl; FedExField, home of the Washington Redskins; Sports Authority Field, home of the Denver Broncos; Rose Bowl Stadium, home of the 2014 BCS National Championship game; and the University of Michigan stadium.

Of those DAS systems, about 75 percent are owned and deployed by wireless carriers. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are TE Connectivity’s biggest customers.

“A number of neutral host DAS providers have been very successful,” Spindler said. “It’s easy for carriers to make a business case to provide service for stadiums that seat 70,000 to 100,000 people.”

Spindler has seen as many as three separate DAS systems deployed in a stadium supporting three different carriers. Carriers’ ownership interest in DAS may be, in part, because high-profile venues bring them unwanted notoriety when a DAS fails to provide coverage.

“The sheer volume of users that fit into a stadium is why there is a high interest in ensuring there is coverage and capacity,” he said. “The carriers want to be in control of something as critical as the systems that are bringing their wireless service to the users in these venues.”

Each stadium is unique. For example, the DAS used at Boise State University and the Rose Bowl Stadium are carrier-owned, while the University of Phoenix Stadium DAS is a multi-operator neutral host system that hosts three carriers.

“At the end of the day, it is up to the carriers to go on a neutral host or to deploy their own DAS,” Spindler said.

Increased Sectorization

Stadiums that had 12 sectors a few years ago now have as many as 32 sectors. Changing sector configurations can be a cost-effective way to increase capacity throughput. The big challenge is making sure the system is designed properly for the traffic patterns of the stadium when you have a capacity crowd, according to Spindler.

“They need to be properly sectorized so they deliver the necessary capacity,” he said. “Of course, when you heavily sectorize a stadium, you need to be very careful with your design so that sectors are carefully delineated. You don’t want a lot of soft handoff, because it reduces the network’s efficiency.”


Siklu Joins Cisco Small Cell Wireless Backhaul Ecosystem

Provides Millimeter-wave, Gigabit Capacity Street-Level Wireless Backhaul in Cisco’s Newly Formed Small Cell Ecosystem

Petach Tikva, Israel, September 3rd, 2013 – Siklu Communication Ltd., a leading provider of millimeter wave systems, announced the addition of its small cell wireless backhaul solutions to the Cisco(R) Small Cell Wireless Backhaul Ecosystem.

Siklu’s Gigabit capacity small form factor millimeter wave radios provide a solution for both the small cell backhaul and small cell offload to the macro cell backhaul network. This is an area which also requires a capacity boost. The EtherHaul-600T is a palm-sized all-outdoor small cell backhaul product operating in the 57-66 GHz V-band that enables rapid deployment anywhere, from street lamps to rooftops. The EtherHaul-1200 is a very small form factor radio operating in the 70/80 GHz, E-band spectrum.

Using an integrated all-silicon approach, Siklu brings down costs to a fraction of those of other millimeter wave solutions. It also lowers the number of components, reducing system size to the smallest in the industry, while increasing reliability.

Cisco has created an ecosystem of wireless solutions that provide end-to-end connectivity for mobile operators, from a small cell site all the way back to their mobile core network. Ecosystem partners provide technologies in their own areas, which are incorporated into the overall Cisco best-in-class mobile backhaul solution, the unified MPLS for mobile transport (UMMT) solution.

With proven interoperability, the Siklu and Cisco combined wireless backhaul solution meets service providers’ requirements for end-to-end activation of quality of service, synchronization, service level agreements and resiliency. This is accomplished in a small form factor designed for all-outdoor street level deployment or in the last mile.

Importantly, the combined solution addresses the need for quick and simple installation as well as “zero-touch” provisioning and commissioning. All this and more is done at a low total cost of ownership (TCO), paving the way for the mass deployments of small cells.

“A variety of backhaul technologies will be used for small-cell connectivity; hence the importance and value of the Cisco Small Cell Wireless Backhaul Ecosystem initiative to mobile operators implementing small-cell infrastructure,” said Ed Chang, vice president of product management, Cisco. “By collaborating with Siklu, we are furthering our commitment to delivering an end-to-end solution for small cell backhaul and are well-positioned to deliver proven E-band and V-band for mobile operators.”

“Siklu is extremely focused on stepping up to the small cell backhaul challenges. Using Siklu’s unique all-silicon millimeter-wave technology allows us to design an ‘invisible’ backhaul system at a low price point optimized for street level and last-mile deployments,” said Izik Kirshenbaum, Siklu’s Co-Founder, Chairman and President.

Kirshenbaum pointed out that through the Cisco small cell ecosystem, a key concern for operators is addressed – end-to-end interoperability of the backhaul network. As backhaul plays a more substantial part in operators’ small cell network TCO, initiatives like Cisco’s are significant in easing operator costs and enabling mass deployment of small cells.

“Being part of the Cisco Small Cell Wireless Backhaul Ecosystem validates our leadership position in the millimeter wave category and provides operators with an enhanced, field-proven solution,” Kirshenbaum said.

About Siklu

Siklu builds gigabit millimeter-wave wireless backhaul solutions over the 70-80 GHz E-band and 60 GHz V-band. Based on a unique all-silicon design that reduces price and increases reliability, Siklu’s radios are ideal for LTE macro and small cell backhaul, fiber extension and business service delivery. The field-proven radios are the top choice of tier one operators for gigabit backhaul worldwide, and thousands of units have been deployed and are operating reliably in all weather conditions. Serving the needs of service providers around the world, Siklu Communication is based near Tel Aviv, Israel. Learn more at www.siklu.com

Press Contacts

Gaby Junowicz
VP Marketing and Business Development
Siklu Communication Ltd
Tel: +972-3-9214015
Fax: +972-3-9214162
E-mail: gaby dot j at siklu.com


Crown Castle to Convert to a REIT

Date(s): Sep. 9, 2013 7:00 AM

HOUSTON, Sept. 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Crown Castle International Corp. (“Crown Castle”) (NYSE:CCI) today announced that it is commencing the steps necessary to reorganize Crown Castle to qualify as a Real Estate Investment Trust (“REIT”) for tax purposes. Crown Castle expects to elect REIT status beginning with the taxable year commencing January 1, 2014.

“We are delighted to announce this plan for conversion because we believe REIT status is the optimal structure for our business given the real estate nature of our assets,” stated Ben Moreland, Crown Castle’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe a REIT structure will lower our weighted average cost of capital and provide additional opportunities for creating long-term shareholder value. Further, we expect our conversion to a REIT to have little to no effect on our operations, and we intend to continue our focus on maximizing long-term adjusted funds from operations per share through growth and disciplined capital allocation.”

Crown Castle’s determination as to the timing and amount of future dividend distributions will be based on a number of factors, including investment opportunities around its core business and its existing federal net operating losses of approximately $2.7 billion. Crown Castle does not expect to make any distribution (commonly referred to as a “purging” dividend) prior to its REIT conversion.

Crown Castle expects to operate in compliance with the REIT rules beginning January 1, 2014. Crown Castle also expects to take certain actions in 2014 in order to facilitate its compliance with the REIT rules by seeking adoption of certain charter provisions that implement certain standard REIT-related ownership and transfer restrictions. Implementation of these steps will be subject to shareholder approval and final board approval. The REIT election is subject to the completion of all necessary steps of the aforementioned conversion plan and final approval by the Crown Castle Board of Directors.

Crown Castle has received an opinion from each of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, which firms advised Crown Castle on its REIT conversion, that Crown Castle will qualify as a REIT as of January 1, 2014.

About Crown Castle

Crown Castle owns, operates and leases towers and other infrastructure for wireless communications. Crown Castle offers significant wireless communications coverage to 98 of the top 100 US markets and to substantially all of the Australian population. Crown Castle owns, operates and manages over 30,000 and approximately 1,700 wireless communication sites in the US and Australia, respectively. For more information on Crown Castle, please visit www.crowncastle.com.

Cautionary Language Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements that are based on management’s current expectations.  Such statements include Crown Castle’s plans, projections and estimates regarding (i) its intention to convert to a REIT and the timing thereof, (ii) the potential advantages, benefits and impact of, and opportunities created by, converting to a REIT, (iii) its strategy and growth, (iv) its cost and allocation of capital, (v) its future earnings and profits, (vi) dividend plans and (vii) its intention to pursue certain steps and corporate actions in connection with its conversion to a REIT.  Such forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including prevailing market conditions and the following:

  • There are a number of implementation and operational complexities to address before Crown Castle expects to convert to a REIT, including completing internal reorganizations. Crown Castle can provide no assurance as to when the conversion to a REIT will be successful, if at all. If Crown Castle fails to elect REIT status for the taxable year commencing January 1, 2014, the next earliest date on which Crown Castle can elect REIT status would be for the taxable year commencing January 1, 2015. In addition, Crown Castle can provide no assurance that any proposed implementation of REIT-related ownership and transfer restrictions will be adopted.
  • REIT qualification involves the application of highly technical and complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, to Crown Castle’s operations, as well as various factual determinations concerning matters and circumstances not entirely within Crown Castle’s control. Although, if Crown Castle converts to a REIT, Crown Castle plans to operate in a manner consistent with REIT qualification rules, Crown Castle cannot give assurance that it will so qualify or remain so qualified.
  • While Crown Castle currently intends to take the steps necessary to convert to a REIT, the REIT election decision is subject to final approval by the Crown Castle Board of Directors. Crown Castle can give no assurances that its Board of Directors will continue to pursue a conversion to a REIT, even if there are no impediments to such conversion.
  • Crown Castle has considered a variety of strategies, including alternative financing, capital and tax strategies, designed to maximize long-term shareholder value, but there can be no assurances that conversion to a REIT will be the most beneficial alternative considered.
  • Changes in legislation or the federal tax rules can adversely impact Crown Castle’s ability to convert to a REIT or the benefits of being a REIT.

Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those expected. More information about potential risk factors that could affect Crown Castle and its results is included in Crown Castle’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The term “including,” and any variation thereof, means “including, without limitation.”

Additional Information

Crown Castle expects to take certain steps and corporate actions in connection with the proposed REIT conversion, and, in connection therewith, it may seek shareholder approval.  If Crown Castle seeks shareholder approval, it will file a proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to be used in connection with the related shareholder vote. INVESTORS ARE URGED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT (INCLUDING ALL AMENDMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTS THERETO) IF AND WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION.  You will be able to obtain documents free of charge at the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.  In addition, you may obtain documents filed with the SEC by Crown Castle free of charge by contacting Investor Relations, Crown Castle International Corp., 1220 Augusta Drive, Suite 500, Houston, Texas 77057, (713) 570-3000, or you may visit the investor relations section of our website at http://investor.crowncastle.com for copies of any such document.

Crown Castle, its directors and executive officers and certain other members of management and employees may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from Crown Castle’s stockholders. Information regarding the persons who may, under the rules of the SEC, be considered participants in the solicitation of proxies will be included in any related proxy statement.  Information about directors and executive officers of Crown Castle and their ownership of Crown Castle stock is set forth in the proxy statement for Crown Castle’s 2013 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.  Investors may obtain additional information regarding the interests of such participants by reading the proxy statement if and when it becomes available.

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval.

         Fiona McKone, VP - Corporate Finance
         Crown Castle International Corp.