Changes in the Wireless Industry
Change is a running joke in the wireless telecommunications industry. We joke about how often the jobs change between the creation of a Construction Drawing and the day the crew arrives on site. A career of 6 years is considered ‘one lifetime’ in telecom. We are now pulling radios off of the ground, and raising them hundreds of feet in the air to mount them directly behind the antennas. The “Small Cell Revolution” has been right around the corner for some time, and there are tons of rumors of a very busy year in 2016. With all of the change and ‘progress’ constantly churning around us, how do we gauge the health of the industry? Where can we as contractors expect to be five, ten or even twenty-five years in the future?
I’m not going to pretend to have a crystal ball or window into the future but I have a very optimistic view into the future. The carriers have held a monopoly over ‘how things will be’ for over two decades,with all other aspects of wireless construction being left up to the individual GC’s, turfs and multitude of subcontractors. Although the ‘Wild West’ references make things seem exciting, this laissez-faire attitude has led to a rash of fatalities of recent years and increasing attention from OSHA and other federal regulators. I am pleased to report that change is affecting this aspect of wireless telecom as well. Initiatives and organizations like TIRAP (Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program) and the NWSA (National Wireless Safety Alliance) are bringing the industry into the modern age, with solid training and certification standards that any company can implement.
I participated in the NWSA’s Tower Technician Training Task Force launch meeting in early October, and was pleased to be surrounded by a room full of industry veterans with one common goal in mind: Safety. I expected to see the posturing, networking and outright job hunting that you typically see with these types of events. There were plenty of discussions and conversations, but all steered towards the discussions at hand. From Safety experts with 35+ years in construction and telecom to a carrier’s national director and turf’s safety manager – all had an equal voice in every facet of the creation of the Tower Tech I and Tower Tech II certification programs. I walked away with a feeling of fulfillment, knowing that the comments and concerns of every individual were heard and discussed by the group.