The NEDAS Washington D.C. Symposium was held on November 21, 2019, at Spire — a fantastic venue near Union Station with views of the Capitol Building just a few blocks away. The event had more than 20 presenters sharing their expert insights and taking part in lively discussions. From Public Safety to investments in infrastructure, network to the tower, smart cities, in-building wireless solutions and more — the programming was very well received and resulted in a lot of insider perspectives being shared and garnered throughout the day.
Following the opening remarks by myself and Steve Yapsuga, the co-chair of the NEDAS Advisory Council and Director of Sales for Comba Telecom, the day began with a dramatic presentation moderated by Laurie Caruso, Founder and CEO of Safe-Fi Technologies. The presentation discussed the urgent needs of Public Safety in an LTE world. Also capturing the attention of the room was panelist John Foley, Managing Director of the Safer Buildings Coalition, Dennis Burns of ADRF and Guy Jouannelle of Jouannelle Consulting.
New to the NEDAS stage was MVP Capital, a leading investment bank for the communications infrastructure industry. MVP Capital sponsored a panel titled The DAS Industry, From the Financial Community’s Perspective. Panelists included Patrick Fear of AB Private Credit Investors, Abhishek Rampuria of M/C Partners and Edward Farscht of Diamond Communications. Sean Hew, Vice President of MVP Capital, led an interesting discussion that resulted in challenging questions from participants about the viability and longevity of the growth of the market (Hint: fiber is needed nearly everywhere).
Changing things up and going ‘Phil Donahue’ style, I conducted a discussion with industry-leading fiber players on the track titled Where Fiber Meets the Tower: The Journey and Opportunities. Joining me were CEOs Don MacNeil of FiberLight and Ray LaChance of ZenFi Networks, along with Kenneth Luzzatto of AiNET and Bill Cune of Corning Optical Networks, who brought the true fiber perspective to the discussion. We explored the journey and requirements that come with building out fiber infrastructure throughout communities, to towers, buildings, and everywhere in between. From the journey, we then explored the opportunities, which remain bullish as the market continues to focus infrastructure development on enabling 5G and fortifying IoT capabilities for everyone.
RanPlan Wireless sponsored the panel titled In-building Wireless Connectivity Systems: One Size Does Not Fit All!, and the presentation was moderated by Jonathan Rowney of RanPlan Wireless. The panel also featured Jason Suplita of the same company, along with Sherri Linton of Wireless Services, Mike Dorranian of Telnet and Joe Scarangella. All participants brought a strong opinion and perspective about how to solve the In-Building wireless connectivity issue. RanPlan shared a very insightful diagram that shed some light on the challenges of connectivity and its inequality between urban and rural markets.
To finalize a day of industry-leading discussions, I was honored to lead a fireside chat discussion with Jonathan Adelstein, the President and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), and Chip Pickering, the CEO of INCOMPAS. For only the second time in their storied careers — which span over 20 years — I had the honor to discuss a number of topics, including recognizing the hard work both have continued to put in to help make the communications infrastructure space as open and competitive as it is today. This was the first time that the heads of the wireless and wireline associations collaborated to address the greatest concerns of the industry today: investments in infrastructure, local regulation, workforce development, collaboration among wireline and wireless operators, and more.
Following my chat with Adelstein and Pickering, NEDAS had the pleasure of recognizing the Tower Family Foundation, a charitable organization established to help provide financial assistance to family members of severely injured, permanently disabled or deceased tower workers. NEDAS announced that, in lieu of gifts thanking speakers and sponsors, a donation was made in honor of the day’s participants. Participants and anyone looking for a great cause can join many others in donating to the TFF here.
In conclusion, the NEDAS D.C. Symposium program explored some of the most pressing concerns facing the wireline and wireless communities: from financing and opportunities to challenges among real estate owners and operators. Beyond this, the event explored questions of who pays for in-building communications investments: operators, tenants, taxpayers, investors, real estate owners or others, and we had open discussions about workforce development challenges. As we prepare for the next generation of smart infrastructure, municipalities are the next frontier for us to all help, guide and educate. To say this was an event for the books is an understatement. I am humbled and forever grateful to lead an organization and its participants through this period of unprecedented convergence. Furthermore, I was truly honored to sit between Jonathan Adelstein and Chip Pickering of the WIA and INCOMPAS as we put our arms around one another to set our sites on enabling a continued, open and competitive communications marketplace that is laying the fiber foundation of tomorrow’s connected world.
More to follow on the conversation with Jonathan Adelstein and Chip Pickering in our follow-up blog. Stay tuned!