Interview with an Alden Expert: How Cross-Team Collaboration Helps to Meet 5G Rollout Timelines
Alden Systems’ CEO explains why a team mindset is the best approach to a demanding deployment schedule and how the right tools can make teamwork easier to achieve.
Alden Systems' CEO John Sciarabba is a big believer in collaboration. “We work better when we work together,” he says, not for the first or even the fiftieth time.
What was true of the utility and telecommunications industries when Alden was founded in the late twentieth century is even more true today. The number of interactions necessary to build and maintain the infrastructure that connects and powers the world has greatly increased. Simply put, more parties are involved and all service providers, municipal governments, and an array of contractors and engineering firms must find better ways to work in concert. With the current 5G rollout, the need for closely coordinated deployment is greater than ever.
More than previous generations of wireless broadband technology, 5G requires a dense cellular network to deliver on its potential. A large amount of small cell equipment is being attached to utility poles, streetlight poles, and other structures around the country, putting joint use departments to the test. The equipment can range in size from a pizza box or backpack to a small refrigerator, plus antenna.
Alden’s Sciarabba explains why this setup requires closer collaboration among the entities involved. The devices are more widespread than previous generations of attachments. They require more engineering consideration, he says, to make sure a pole can safely bear the weight of its attachments. It’s also important to make sure the physical size of the equipment doesn’t impede the climbing space on the pole. And there are radio frequency issues to be considered.
The Major Players
5G deployment commonly involves several types of companies or entities that need to collaborate to make sure the work is done safely and in a timely fashion. Each has its own priorities and concerns.
The key participants, according to Sciarabba, are:
- The 5G network operators
- Broadband infrastructure providers
- Structure owners, such as electric utilities or municipalities
- Engineering and service firms working for the other players
It’s important that they all see the big picture, Sciarabba says—the potential benefits the technology brings to their communities as well as to their companies. “While each player has their own motivation, ultimately the sooner a community gets new services such as these, the sooner they prosper and move into the future,” Sciarabba says.
Competition and Challenges
Competition in the 5G marketplace is intense, both nationally and internationally, and meeting timelines is important for the companies involved.
“Operators are in a race for market share,” Sciarabba says. “Whoever gets there first can own the geography for a while. That trickles or floods down to infrastructure leasing facilities to others. There are not enough engineering and service resources in the industry to do all the work, so there’s only as much opportunity as they can take on—which means first-comers may own a relationship for a while into the future.”
Of course, regulations create additional time pressures. “They may include penalties for not meeting timelines through the process,” Sciarabba observes.
He identifies some common obstacles to making the process flow the way it should. “Everyone is busy getting the work done,” he says. “It’s hard to take time out, step back and work on the process.” But that work is a key to efficiency.
Adopting the proper mindset is also essential. “There needs to be a mindset of we—the infrastructure and service providers—need to work together to make this happen and not have an adversarial relationship.”
Failure to communicate clearly and effectively is another potential pitfall. Everybody involved in the deployment needs to know what’s happening on each side, what the goal is, how the parties can work together to achieve that goal, what constraints they are facing, and how those can be mitigated.
People, Process, Presence
The consequences of failing to collaborate effectively range from operators losing out to their competition to whole communities being hindered in their growth, Sciarabba says.
Enter Alden One, the nationally recognized management software platform for joint use, used by companies nationwide in the US and Canada. It’s especially well-suited to allow for more automation of business processes like the ones required to deliver complex deployments such as 5G.
Sciarabba sums up the Alden difference in three words: people, process, and presence. Alden backs up its platform with its people, he notes, who think like the industry professionals, understand today’s challenges, and are committed to success. Alden seeks to create value and not extract it from our clients, being friendly and helpful and going the extra mile to help a company get the maximum benefit from the software.
Second, Alden One itself is a powerful tool that does a lot of heavy lifting, greatly reducing the time required for potentially ponderous tasks. “We use process automation to bring clarity and control to the complexity,” Sciarabba says. It's a complex problem, but it's not a complicated one.
What does he mean by presence? Alden One is there to facilitate collaboration among the various teams, he says. “We are unique in that we align people inside and outside their company.” Sharing essential data is easy, whether between departments or with other partners in 5G deployment.
“We also help them be data-driven in their decision-making and execution,” Sciarabba says. “The data is an outcome of the process, for executives, operations, or compliance.” Successful collaboration is a must to realize the full benefits of game-changing technology and lay the groundwork for future evolution. Alden is ready to help make it happen. If you’re interested in learning more about the ways Alden One can improve your processes and lighten the workload, click here to talk to us.