Small Cells For The Win: Powerful Connectivity During Major Events is No Longer a Wish List Item — It’s Now a Must

Great connectivity is no longer optional at sports arenas. Now it’s time for the rest of America to catch up.

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By Mike Montgomery

When the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers tipped off earlier this month in front of 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena, there were at least 20,000 (likely more) wireless devices in the audience. Those lucky enough to have scored the golden ticket didn’t hesitate to text, post on social networks, browse the web and yes, even stream live video during the game. And make no mistake about it, users expected that their messages, posts and videos would process without a hitch.

As anyone who has been to a sporting event, concert, rally or even a large graduation ceremony recently can attest, the absence of even a single bar or two of connectivity can be a frustrating experience. Networks quickly get bogged down when thousands of people with thousands of devices compete for the attention of the local communications infrastructure.

The most extreme example of this is the Super Bowl. In 2015 Verizon handled 7 terabytes of data at Super Bowl XLIX. In 2017, that number was up to 11 terabytes.

Stadiums use a hodgepodge of different methods to deal with the increased traffic. Today, most stadiums (including Oracle) have Wi-Fi — others work with communications companies on temporary solutions around large events.

Recently, we have seen stadiums take a more progressive and effective approach by installing antenna systems made up predominantly of a network of small cells — discreet nodes that can fit under seats or in the rafters. These antennas help build a more robust network inside the arena, specifically densifying the network by adding much needed capacity to deal with increased demand. That’s what U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis did before the most recent Super Bowl. Verizon upped its small cell count to 1,200 from 900, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, and AT&T and Sprint each deployed 800 small cells.

As demand for data grows, these tight-knit small cell networks must be expanded beyond stadiums and venues. Data traffic grew 238% over the last two years driven mostly by video and social networking. Further, traffic per user in North America is set to grow from 7 gigabytes today to 22GB by 2022.

The good news, small cells are already popping up in cities across America. Communications companies are investing heavily in small cell deployment understanding that our infrastructure is the bedrock of present and future connectivity. You see, not only do small cells add much needed capacity to power our current networks, but they are the key to ushering in the era of 5G – which will allow data to move 10 times faster than the current 4G network.

The bad news, largely due too unnecessary and dated regulatory red-tape, antennas are not being deployed quickly enough —a big reason the U.S. currently lags both China and South Korea is the race to 5G.

Just as the Warriors solidified themselves as the basketball dynasty of this generation with their clean sweep of the Cavaliers, America must establish itself as the technology dynasty of this generation by keeping us connected today and winning the race to 5G tomorrow — both of which start with infrastructure.

 

 

 

Want 5G? Form Government Tech Partnerships

In order to move to the next level of cell phone service, governments are going to have to work with companies to build out 5G networks.

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To stay competitive globally, the U.S. needs to embrace 5G. The next level of cell phone service is going to move data 10 times faster and handle 100 times the capacity of the current network — unleashing serious innovation.

But to get there, governments need to start partnering with private companies to build these dense networks. That’s happening today in a surprising place: Sacramento. Check out this story to read more about how the city partnered with Verizon to build out a new network.

 

Can 911 Find You As Fast As Uber Can? If Not, Blame Our Mobile Infrastructure

Small-cell antennas are crucial for ensuring the public can get the information and help needed during an emergency, says Mike Montgomery.

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A whopping 95 percent of Americans own a mobile phone, and nearly two-thirds have a smartphone. That extra layer of communication should keep us safer in emergency situations, says Mike Montgomery, but only if first responders can trace our calls to our locations, and if warning systems are robust enough not to fail when we need them most.

(The wildfires that ravaged California last year with insufficient warning to some residents spring to mind as an example.)

“It is mind-boggling to think that more often than not, your pizza delivery person has more accurate location information than the paramedics — especially when you consider the fact that upwards of 80% of 911 calls originate from a mobile device,” says Montgomery, who argues that the first step in resolving the communications gap is updating our wireless infrastructure — in particular by deploying a network of small-cell antennas. Read what that entails here.

America Can’t Afford To Drag Its Feet On 5G

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“Cities such as Sacramento and Long Beach in California are aggressively moving forward with 5G,” writes CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan. “These emerging cities may find themselves attracting the Googles and Amazons of tomorrow as larger cities drag their feet on 5G.”

That foot-dragging isn’t just potentially bad for local economies, contends Rajan; it’s also a threat to America’s global competitiveness.

To date, the U.S. has been the global leader in innovation – in large part due to our leadership in the wireless space – but there’s a real risk America will lose our position to China and South Korea if we lose the race to 5G.

The economic benefit of leading the move to the next level of network speed and capacity is not fiction. History shows that 5G will provide tremendous economic benefit. America led the way on 4G technology, resulting in $100 billion in economic impact. We took that lead position from the European Union, which had been ahead of the game on 2G. Losing that front-runner status led to job losses and contractions in the telecom hardware and software industries in Europe.

We can’t afford to have the same thing happen in the U.S.

Read Rajan’s full story here.

Small Cell Antennas Could Give Big Boost To Long Beach Internet Access

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Greece Odyssey 263

Small cell antennas about to start springing up in downtown and northwest Long Beach, bringing with them the prospect of faster and stronger internet access.

Irvine-based Crown Castle, which already has installed 19 small-cell antennas in Long Beach, plans to add dozens more, a move that officials hope will help bridge the city’s digital divide.

The Press-Telegram has the full story here.

 

Sacramento Leads The 5G Way

It’s time for others in the state to learn from Sacramento and embrace the future, writes Kish Rajan.

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Mobile Phone Tower

“There is little doubt that 5G will change what we think of as being truly ‘connected,’ but who will get it first,” writes CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan. “If you guessed the usual suspects – Silicon Valley, San Francisco – you would be wrong.”

Leading the way, according to Rajan, is Sacramento. Read why here.

L.A. Loves That Elon Musk Scent. But Why No Love For High Speed Rail?

High speed rail should be getting the fast track treatment.

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The L.A. City Council is falling all over itself to speed Elon Musk’s plan to bore giant tunnels under the city. There’s no question the new tech is cool. Just look at this:

But it’s totally untested and drilling in our seismic neighborhoods is a little disconcerting.

Meanwhile, high speed rail, a tried and true technology that could help speed commuters between L.A. and San Francisco cutting down on car and airplane trips, is languishing at the federal level. Read more here.

Unblocking 5G: New FCC Rules Make it Easier to Build Fast Networks

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By Kish Rajan

The Federal Communications Commission last week voted to kick-start 5G wireless networks in the United States by exempting them from some reviews that hinder installation.

It’s about time.

So far, the U.S. lags far behind the world leader — China — at getting 5G networks up and running. “There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G, and other nations are poised to win,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged in January. It’s an embarrassing place for the country that invented the internet. But more than that, our hesitancy to streamline the process for installing vital infrastructure is costing us money, jobs and security.

Today, we’re coasting along on 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks. Experts warned as far back as 2011 that 4G would be maxed out within four years because data demand was growing too fast to be accommodated by 4G bandwidth. And it’s not slowing. In the U.S., data usage will be seven times greater in 2021 than it was in 2016. By 2020, more than 50 billion devices and 212 billion sensors will be connected to wireless networks. All this data is making 4G networks crowded, slow and spotty.

The annoying buffering while streaming video, the random dead zones and the snail-like pace of sending photos over text can be attributed to our inefficient and overwhelmed 4G networks. The more people using it, the slower it goes, which is why it’s often difficult to do anything on your phone in Los Angeles unless you’re on Wi-Fi.

5G networks are much more efficient at using spectrum. They’ll increase capacity 100 times or more over 4G and be able to move data at least 10 times faster, allowing for all sorts of real-time applications. And that’s just the beginning. 5G is vital to improved safety, reliability and economic development.

According to a 2017 Accenture report, smart cities and Internet of Things (IoT) improvements led by 5G capabilities have the potential to create $160 billion in benefits and savings. Then there’s the economic boost of building 5G networks. Accenture predicts that 5G could result in $275 billion in investments, create 3 million new jobs nationally and grow GDP by $500 billion.

Small cells can be easier and cheaper to install than traditional cell towers, but they rely on density to provide fast, reliable data service. A college football stadium, for example, needs 40 to 60 cells to provide full coverage. Unfortunately, building a 5G network isn’t as easy as it should be because there’s no federal standard. That means each state and municipality has its own series of complicated, confusing and contradictory rules covering installation.

Industry is prepared to deploy hundreds of thousands of small cells on utility poles throughout the country. But it can take as long as a year, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to navigate through cumbersome local and state regulations designed to govern 200-foot cell towers. These unobtrusive small cell solutions simply should not be compared to traditional cell towers.

The FCC ruling is a good start, as it will eliminate some of the repetitive and unnecessary review processes. In fact, Accenture estimates it will save $1.6 billion. But states need to get on board, too. It’s in their own best interests and those of their constituents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of American households now are cellphone only, which means they rely entirely on wireless networks for service. That explains why 80 percent of 911 calls are mobile. 5G networks will be a boon to first responders — and the people seeking help.

In California, despite being the national epicenter of innovation, we’re lagging behind. Last year a bill that would have helped the 5G industry was stopped due to concerns from local municipalities about installation of the cells. While local governments’ concerns most certainly need to be addressed, we can’t allow the 5G conversion to become mired in red tape.

It’s time for California to embrace 5G technology. As the world’s sixth-largest economy, California cannot simply keep pace with the rest of the country; it must instead set the national and global example. Let’s get to work.

Kish Rajan is chief evangelist for CALinnovates.

How SB 649 Will Help Keep California Competitive

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CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan Talks About How SB 649 Will Help Keep California Competitive

A bill currently making its way through the state Senate would make it easier for California to move to a 5G network. But it has stoked blowback from local municipalities that fear giving up any control over where phone companies can place the small cell antennas necessary for making 5G a reality.

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An Urgent Call for Rural Broadband on California Ag Lands

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Author: Bob Gore

OK, I’m asking for your help here, for a worthy and mutually beneficial effort. First, here’s a free tip and something that’s not widely known.

The “brainiacs “at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in Berkeley have invented the first viable nitrogen sensor for soil, according to a friend of mine at the USDA. For those of you who don’t snap to this, it’s potentially huge.

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