Is the marriage of wireless and the utility infrastructure a golden opportunity for urban small cell siting? Utility pole attachments offer both great potential and the potential for great frustration, according to the members of the Strengthening Your Business in the Wireless Industry, Today and Tomorrow panel.
The more utilities and wireless companies know about each other the better we will be able to work with each other, according to Kilbourne. “Right now it seems like a pretty significant gap between us. UTC is trying to bridge that gap through Utilisite Council,” he said.
One big gap is the use of union labor. Most utilities are unionized, while tower service companies are not, according to Joe Ryan, CTI Towers, VP, acquisitions.
“Using union labor from the utilities might be seen as an insult to the tower companies,” he said.
Ryan said working with utilities is probably not that different from working with Comcast, which is a company that is very process oriented as well.
“There have been telecommunications that partnered successfully with utilities,” he said.
“Diamond Communications successfully partnered with utilities. We would definitely be good partners. It just takes understanding each other needs.”
Utilities will play a major role in deploying future technologies based on small cell technologies, according to Jake MacLeod, Gray Beards Consulting.
“Pole attachments give you the backhaul and the power,” he said. “Consequently, if you are able to place a radiator on the pole that doesn’t interfere with the existing devices on the pole, it is a wonderful solution. Wireless pole attachments have been tried in a number of cities. Success has been limited, however, because of political and technical issues.”