Small details are important to the success of big projects, and when it comes to big projects, network densification to support 5G will be substantial. Keeping track of the details can save time and money for the carriers and infrastructure companies setting out to build small cells and deploy network equipment in cities and municipalities.
Among the many moving parts in densification projects are site identification, permitting, deployment and maintenance, as well as relationships with general contractors, vendors and local government officials. Each of these variables can create a stumbling block that could potentially slow deployments.
Marietta, Georgia-based OneVizion Inc. has a solution to keeping projects on time and on budget. The company’s platform, recently re-launched with a new Java frontend, allows companies to collect project data from multiple sources, relate them together and display them on a single pane of glass, providing visibility into the workflows that are running smoothly as well as processes that could be optimized.
Telecom industry veteran Gary Williamson, who joined OneVizion earlier this year as its Vice President of Telecom Innovation, is scheduled to speak on this topic during a panel at Connectivity Expo May 22 addressing the relationship between small cells and municipalities and how to avoid 5G siting bottlenecks. In preview, Williamson sat down with WIA to talk about the importance of data visibility in keeping projects running smoothly.
What are some of the challenges telecom industry faces as we move to 5G?
All of the carriers have network densification plans to support the 5G specifications. There are spectrum considerations, handset updates, jurisdictional issues, federal regulations, it’s a very complex environment these days. However, we are going to see a massive increase in deployment of devices, whether it’s small cells, DAS, in-building systems, mesh Wi-Fi or other new device types. This is certain based on reported build plans.
How does OneVizion’s platform address that issue?
There’s a difference between data and information. Many different solutions talk about managing data. Our technology allows telecom companies to easily bring together data from any part of the ecosystem into an information hub that can relate that data together within a single view of truth in one platform. They have ERP data, HR data, procurement data, vendor data, materials data, warehouse and logistics data, along with project data and project financials. There is also customer data that must be included. You can bring all that data in from those separate applications or spreadsheets, import it easily into our platform and then curate, correlate and rationalize it into information that matters to the user. This can be done through the UI self-service administrative tools. It’s a very unique solution.
Who are the end users for the OneVizion platform?
Everyone. Anyone from a project manager to a VP. Program managers, project resources, vendors and VPs are looking at it for dashboard production information. It’s all up and down the food chain. And it’s not only carriers. Service companies use it to manage their business across their customer base. Tower companies use it to manage their tower assets, application processes and colocation activities. They use it for new builds or to manage their own services teams. IoT companies use us to manage their IoT device deployments. We have many different use cases of what they use this platform to manage.
What are the biggest stumbling blocks that slow buildouts?
The biggest stumbling blocks that I see right now to the buildouts are jurisdictional issues. This has always been somewhat of an issue since each jurisdiction is unique with their ordinances and regulations. The Fed has tried to insert themselves with maximum attachment fees, a shot clock and so on but there has been tremendous pushback.
What could help remove the stumbling blocks the telecom industry faces?
I’ve become aware of companies founded in the past few years that recognize this very thing and they specialize in jurisdictional readiness planning, and helping cities understand what their street furniture looks like, where it is, how to market it, how to bring it in to a database, how to deal with multi-attachment agreements and really help them tune and streamline their application processes internally. I think these companies that are doing this jurisdictional readiness work are ahead of the curve and they are currently engaged with Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities showing them what issues they are going to encounter, what the relationship is going to look like with whatever carrier comes to town. It’s really a trickle-down effect, you’ve got spectrum deployment on one end, densification coverage plans, jurisdictional issues, deployment issues, tracking, monitoring and operations. It’s a domino effect.
What other factors impact speed to market and costs during network deployments?
To be able to speed deployment and reduce costs, you really need visibility of the whole ecosystem. When you don’t have that, then the first reaction when you’re behind schedule or when you think you’re falling behind is to throw more resources at the problem. Instead of trying to find an efficient way to manage the problem, you bring on more people, which drives up costs and erodes your margins. The way you get in front of that is to make sure you have an information hub where you have everything in front of you that you need to see. You have all your financials there. You have all of your plan record information there for what you’ve signed up to deliver. You have all your vendor information for subcontractors. You have all their financial information in front of you – have work orders actually been produced, have you been making payments on time, have you got all of your general contractors lined up? It’s that information that you need to be able to successfully fulfill your project requirements. If you don’t have all of that, you spend most of your time chasing that down rather than running the project and knocking down barriers to success. That’s what speeds up programs and that’s what reduces costs. In a nutshell, it’s having all the information you need in front of you to make an informed decision.
If you don’t have all that information in front of you, how does that impact projects?
Here’s a good example. If your accounts payable department doesn’t pay your general contractors on time, and you don’t know that, suddenly your general contractors will leave and go work for someone else. If you don’t understand some of these little speed bumps, suddenly critical resources are gone and you can’t do anything. Or you get into a bidding war because resources are scarce in the industry as a whole and then you have to pay more than you were budgeting, so you have to find other areas for additional revenue to cover your margin targets. There are a lot of situations like that, but if you don’t have all that in front of you, if you don’t understand what your community looks like and don’t have a wholistic view of everything, you’re going to get blindsided. It’s inevitable.
Don’t miss Williamson’s panel, “Small Cells & Municipalities: Business Solutions to the 5G Siting Bottleneck” on Wednesday, May 22, at 3:15 at Connectivity Expo. The panel is part of the “5G Infrastructure: Fiber, Small Cells & Fixed Wireless” education track, which will explore topics including network densification, artificial intelligence, Massive MIMO, millimeter-wave wireless, mission critical fiber and small cell design.
Visit OneVizion at its booth (813/815) on the exhibit floor or at the OneVizion Innovation Center May 22 from 12 to 5 PM in the Bayhill 19 meeting room. Click here for more information.
Visit www.connectivityexpo.com for the full list of speakers, keynotes, exhibitors and sessions.
Gary Williamson has nearly 40 years of experience in engineering and senior management across a variety of industries. The last 20 years he has focused on Telecom and is an expert in wireless network design, deployment and management. Gary has worked with all sectors including service providers, carriers, cable operators and infrastructure owners including utilities. Gary also has broad experience in technology including network management software for service assurance and configuration management as well as deployment project management applications such as Siterra. Gary ran product and services for Siterra for many years until they were acquired in 2011.
Prior to entering telecom, Gary consulted for large SAP deployments across North America with expertise in Inventory, Warehouse and Material Management. He led business process re-engineering and implementation efforts across several large enterprise SAP customers. Gary has experience as well in implementation of other ERP platforms such as JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Oracle. Gary has worked in a variety of industries as a research and development engineer including Oil & Gas, Seismic and underground explosion detection, printing and distribution and various government programs including the Superconducting Super Collider project in Texas.
Gary holds a BSE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of WIA or its members.
Also published on Medium.