April Safety Newsletter by Neil Savage

Towersource’s Safety Newsletter welcomes spring with an issue dedicated to one of humanity’s greatest achievements: the crane. Don’t miss the trivia question—you could snag some sweet prizes. [UPDATE: trivia contest is closed!]

No Crane, No Gain

If you don’t get into the field too often, then you may be surprised to know that many towers and rooftops require cranes. Yeah, no joke, it’s true; cranes make construction jobs much easier. Why are you looking confused like that? Oh, okay. No, not those birds with the goofy long legs. The construction equipment capable of lifting and lowering heavy materials. You know, the machines that have been around since Ancient Greece? See, the confusion comes because they both have the same name.

While cranes make the impossible possible, their hazards cause severe injuries and fatalities every year. Preventing these disasters requires operators and workers to maintain focus and follow safety protocol as they would around any heavy machinery.

The three common concerns most frequently associated with crane accidents are: overloading, electrical hazards, and materials falling from overhead hoists. One overlap between all three hazards is the qualifications of the crane operator. No variable is as important as assuring the crane operator/job supervisor is competent and qualified: no dummies allowed.

Overloading Can’t Be Overstated

Swinging or a sudden dropping of the load, using defective components, and hoisting a load beyond capacity can all cause overloading. According to OSHA (who knows these things well), 80 percent of all crane upsets and structural failures can be attributed to exceeding the crane’s operational capacity.

One overloading accident occurs for every 10,000 hours of crane use, and nearly all of these upsets can be attributed to human error. Overloading most often occurs when poorly trained personnel are allowed to operate cranes. For example, operators may mistakenly believe they are able to rely on their instinct or experience to determine whether a load is too heavy: no cowboys allowed.

Because cranes have become more and more sophisticated, today’s operators must be well trained and have a clear understanding of load dynamics, lifting capacity configurations, and the conditions under which such lifting capacities are valid.

It’s Electric

Nearly 50 percent of crane accidents are the result of machinery coming into contact with a power source during operation, which most often occurs when the crane is operating nearby or under energized power lines. Usually, the person who is electrocuted is physically touching the crane when it comes into contact with the power line, but the danger extends to all personnel in the vicinity, not just the operator.

Okay, here’s the trivia question, for a chance to win some Towersource apparel and a gift card: during what war does Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” take place? Send your answer to nsavage@towersourceinc.com.

The Sky is Falling

Nobody wants an antenna tumbling down inside a compound. If materials are not properly secured, a crane’s load can land on workers or cause major equipment damage. One way to reduce the risk of runaway materials is to perform regular maintenance, but aside from preventative care, if the load isn’t properly secured, objects can tip, slip out, and eventually crash to the ground below.

Employees working around cranes should always wear proper head, foot, hand, and eye protection. While the crane operator should always be accountable, anyone on the ground should also be aware of his/her surroundings and never walk under a lift. Likewise, suspended loads should never be moved over employees, even if it seems hilarious at the time: no pranksters allowed. 

U.S. Drops in Rank! by Neil Savage

This must be what Donald Trump means when he talks about making America great again: though download speeds of 4G LTE networks rose slightly in the U.S. over the last year, we’re now ranked 55th in overall LTE performance. The drop comes as other countries rapidly improve their networks. 

Per network monitoring app OpenSignal, New Zealand has the best LTE network. The Kiwis and their sheep enjoy speeds 3.5 times faster than those in the U.S. Also impressive: South Koreans have LTE coverage 97% of the time.

Before you get up in arms wondering why Morocco—Morocco!—outperformed us, keep in mind the study strictly graded LTE performance, not LTE coverage. The U.S. is actually hindered because of our size and the fact that we rolled out LTE first: Verizon launched the technology back in 2010. That means countries like Japan and Australia are using newer, faster equipment. 

For the record, Verizon customers enjoy LTE coverage 84% of the time, the highest rate of any carrier. They are also tied with T-Mobile for fastest overall LTE speeds.

Sprint's 'Severe Financial Distress' by Neil Savage

What's the best reason to get married? For money and a secure future, right? 

Sprint has improved in many respects over the last year, from ditching those annoying family plan commercials to increasing their coverage. Regardless, they're now fourth in the market and looking at a 52-week low stock.

In the midst of success, potentially crippling failure. 

Sprint's setback could be the key to getting a Sprint/T-Mobile merger off the ground, though, as RCR Wireless reports. The two giants tried to merge in 2014, but regulatory killed the deal. Maybe with a puttering stock, the deal will be viewed more positively. It definitely will be successful if they hire Kevin Durant to represent them.

Tower Safety: Good News & Weird News by Neil Savage

We'll deliver the good news first. 3M, the mega-corporation everyone loves for their diverse product line (everything from stethoscopes to camouflaged hockey tape) is investing in the tower climber safety industry, to the tune of $2.5 billion. What does $2.5 billion get you? It buys the fall-protection equipment supplier Capital Safety, whose products include harnesses, lanyards, and retractable fall arrest devices. According to RCR Wireless, "This is a strategic move for 3M, which believes increased regulatory focus on tower worker safety in both developed and undeveloped countries will push the growth of the industry."

Don't believe RCR? Take it straight from 3M's mouthpiece, Inge G. Thulin, 3M chairman, president and CEO: “Personal safety is a large and strategically important growth business in the 3M portfolio. The acquisition of Capital Safety bolsters our personal safety platform and will build on our fundamental strengths in technology, manufacturing, global capabilities and brand.” Let's hear it for corporate talk!

Okay, so that's the good news. Now, how about the weird news? To be more precise, it's weird, slightly unsettling news. Anonymous, a hacktivist group (that's hacker activists, for all those not in the know), posted a threatening YouTube video earlier in June warning tower industry trade associations to... well, it's not really clear what they're warning against. You can check out the video here, if you want the heebie-jeebies. What's even weirder? We headed over to Cellular News this morning, and found it hacked by Anonymous. These are strange times we're living in!

Merger a-Comin' by Neil Savage

You heard it here first... or second... or third. Whatever number it ends up being. Inside Tower reports that the Wall Street Journal reports that Dish Network and T-Mobile are cuddling up nice and cozy-like. That's not really news, at this point, though. Well, some more details have surfaced: Dish Chief Executive Charlie Ergen would be the new company's (T-Network? Dish Mobile?) chairman and T-Mobile's John Legere would be CEO. Inside Towers also brings us some opinions on how the landscape could change because of the merger:

"Jonathan Schildkraut at Evercore ISI: “We see a number of potential strategic benefits from the proposed combination: (1) significant spectrum resources (T-Mobile has roughly 84MHz of spectrum and Dish has roughly 81MHz with both having concentrations in the AWS and PCS bands plus a little 700MHz); (2) ability to deliver wireless broadband to rural markets (markets to which Dish customers are over-indexed); (3) add significant spectral capacity to TMUS’s network in urban and more densely populated sub-urban markets; and (4) a strong cultural fit (based on market disruption and addressing customer pain points)… Dish generates a fair amount of FCF [free cash flow] on its core business, while T-Mobile is expected to inflect to FCF positive in 2015. The combination of growing cash flows would allow for more aggressive network investment – particularly in markets where T-Mobile may need additional scale (i.e., more rural markets)."

Sprint Gets the Green Light by Neil Savage

Just last week, we brought news of Sprint's bold claim to soon have the best coverage. The company then reigned those boasts in by describing their plans fully: they plan to be first (or second) in coverage (in major markets).

In order to do accomplish such a feat, Sprint asked its parent company, SoftBank for approval and funding, not unlike the well-behaved teenager asking his parents to stay out past curfew on the night of the big game. Per FierceWireless: "Sprint has developed an approved network plan in partnership with SoftBank that will allow for a cost-effective network build on an accelerated timeline." 

Let's see: "Cost-effective." "Accelerated timeline." "Approved." Buzz word alert!

But seriously, Sprint's intelligent. They know the deal--they can't win the war without the best (or better) coverage. To do that, they have to spend, spend, spend. Sprint provides the vision; SoftBank provides the funding. (Oh, and "SoftBank" is a really weak name. We're not impressed or intimidated or awed. 86th largest company in the world or not... that name has to change.)

Ericsson's Mobility Report by Neil Savage

Ericsson just published their international mobility report (which can be found in its entirety here.) At risk of seeming xenophobic*, we focused on the North America appendix. And to no one's surprise, Ericsson predicts that their market will continue to grow into 2020. From the introduction:

"Internet connectivity has reached its 25th year. Mobile devices are now affordable and in ample supply, while mobile networks are keeping pace with the latest networking technologies. Consumers in the U.S. and Canada, alongside other developed markets, have passed the introductory phase of the Networked Society. The pervasive connectivity of people and devices is transforming our lives, including our homes, jobs, health, relationships and more. In 1990, the internet had existed as a public resource for less than a decade, and almost 80 percent of the world’s internet users resided in the U.S. or Canada. Now, 99 percent of households in the U.S. have at least 1 device connected to the internet and nearly 50 percent have 5 devices or more."

Ericsson offers up some interesting factoids and predictions:

  • By 2020, there will be one smartphone subscription per person.
  • By 2020, data traffic will increase 7.5 times to the equivalent of about 4.2 billion movie downloads.
  • Two years ago, less than 50% of employers provided a data plan and device for at least one employee. In 2014, 75% of businesses did the same.
  • In 2014, there were approximately the same number of households with a tablet as with a landline.

*Our boss bought us a word-a-day calendar. He only just gave it to us, even though it's June.

Towersource’s Safety Newsletter: You Won’t Believe These Seven Celebrities Whose Backs are Failing… by Neil Savage

Clickbait apparently works, so we’re trying to increase the views of our Safety Newsletter with that headline. Did it work? Are you here to find out whether or not Chris Pratt’s lower back is overly stressed? His back is fine, as far as we know, and while you may not get celebrity gossip here, in issue #4 of our newsletter, you will learn about the ergonomics of safe lifting. And don’t forget about the hidden contest!

How Much Do You Know About: Lifting Ergonomics?

We can admit it; we didn’t even know the definition of “ergonomics” at first. So we had to look it up. For our purposes, ergonomics refers to the study of human capabilities in relationship to their work demands. Boring snoozefest. Translation: if you slouch while staring at your computer or your back hurts from sitting in your cubicle all day, ergonomics should interest you.

But we’re not here to focus on the coddled 9-to-5 desk jockeys. We’re here to focus on the diligent field crews who lift more than just a doughnut all day. Working on-site requires heavy lifting, which can cause strains or hernias or other types of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). These MSDs are injuries that affect muscles, nerves and tendons, and include injuries to the neck, shoulders and lower back. According to OHSA, MSDs are one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness.

No matter your position or work environment, lifting is unavoidable. Seriously, think about it: when was the last time you went an entire day without lifting anything? It was never, you liar, unless you spent the whole day in bed and didn’t even move your pillow. And though lifting is unavoidable, lifting in an incorrect manner isn’t. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid injury due to poor lifting ergonomics:

Tips for Safe Lifting:

·Good foot position allows you to keep your balance and to use the full power of your legs, which are more powerful and more durable than your back. Footwork is also important to avoid twisting your upper body. Twisting compounds the stress of the lift and affects your balance, so use your feet to change direction; don’t twist your body.

·Whenever you lift an object, the load becomes a part of your body. You support and propel the object while it is attached to you. This attachment should be firm and secure—get a good grip.

·Use the right tools! Man invented forklifts and dollies for a reason; they separate us from the apes. So when really heavy items need to be lifted, use your tools! Even simple mechanisms like back belts or wrist braces prevent injury.

·Lifting isn’t always a hardship. Some people even do it for fun. Mariusz Pudzianowski competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition nine times—and won five of those competitions. Here’s your trivia question: plus or minus 50 pounds, what was Mariusz’s highest bench press? Send your guess to nsavage@towersourceinc.com, for your chance to win a gift card and a Towersource polo!

·When you have someone help you lift an object, teamwork becomes important. If you're going to be carrying a load from one point to another, both of you should decide how to handle the load in advance. Check the route and clearance. One person should be the leader. Lifting and lowering should be done in unison. Don't let the load drop suddenly without warning your partner.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due. Sources:




Sprint Gunning for Number One by Neil Savage

A zebra can tell you it's going to add more black stripes, but that doesn't mean you can't be skeptical about its claim.

Take a moment to admire that analogy, then check out Sprint's equally as bold claim, reported by CNET. In two years, they're going to have the first or second best coverage in major markets, according to CEO Marcelo Claure. Hey, we're all for dreaming big. More competition leads to better experiences for the end user. So, young zebra, go forth and make good on your claim! Full CNET article can be found here.

"Talk about bold. Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said he believes he will have a top-tier wireless network in less than two years.

"You can invite me back here in two years -- our network will be ranked No. 1 or No. 2," Claure said Wednesday at Recode's Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verde, Calif. He later clarified that he meant No. 1 or 2 in the major markets.

It's a tough claim to accept, given that Sprint is ranked in many network surveys as dead last -- particularly in data speeds. Though recent studies have shown improvement in phone calls and text messages, Sprint still lags behind the competitors in coverage -- especially in many major markets. Verizon typically takes the top spot for wireless coverage, with AT&T close behind. T-Mobile lays claim to the fastest network.

Claure, who took over Sprint last summer with the mission to revitalize the struggling carrier, gave his prognosis of the company. "The patient is doing well now, and I think the patient is in stable condition," he said."

Jeff Kagan: Winners in Wireless Networks by Neil Savage

In sports, there are always winners and losers. Same with business. Same with life. Maybe you've tasted the sweet, succulent success of being a winner before, but there's a pretty high chance you've choked on the bitterness of defeat, too. Don't really know where we're going with this opening. Thought we might have had an angle, but it sort of fizzled. Instead, let's just cut straight to RCR's article by Jeff Kagan. His opinions on the victors of the industry follow:

If we asked who the winners in wireless on the handset side eight years ago were, we would have said BlackBerry and Nokia. Today’s leaders are Apple iPhone and Google Android on phones like the Samsung Galaxy. The wireless world completely changed over the last few years. So what can we expect on the network side going forward?

Things change quickly on both the handset and network sides. Yesterday’s leaders are now struggling for survival. While Apple, Google and Samsung have roughly 90% market share, all the others squeeze into the last 10%. Today the next largest is Microsoft Nokia, which has only single-digit market share. BlackBerry has roughly 1% from what I hear.

Changes at the networks
With that kind of transformational change going on with handsets, let’s consider the networks.

Networks have gone through as much chaos and change, as well. Ten years ago the competitors were AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile US. They were all going through changes and challenges, but they were all competing well in the 2G, pre-app world.

Then, over the next few years, things started to change. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless continued to grow to 3G then LTE, while Sprint and T-Mobile US didn’t. That meant two competitors were rapidly growing while the other two were not.

Now the wireless world is changing once again. Growth will come from new and different areas. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are still on the right track, but now it seems so are Sprint and T-Mobile US. What that means is all four are growing, but in different ways.

What’s important to remember is there is a split forming in the industry. Both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are on one side of this split. They offer a variety of wireless and wireline services. On the other side is Sprint and T-Mobile US, which are straight wireless plays.

So what changes can we expect going forward with wireless networks? Let’s take a closer look at these top four carriers.

Acquisitions in Wireless: 10 Years in an Infographic by Neil Savage

Everyone loves a good infographic. Also, everyone loves cell phones. And finally, everyone loves mergers and acquisitions (well, aside from the people who get laid off because of them). So most everybody should love the nice, neat display showing the last 10 years of wireless consolidation. Brought to you by Fierce Wireless, the chart takes a look at the rise of the Big Four as they gulped up regional carriers; together, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon account for 90% of the market, and lots of that growth happened at the expense of other carriers.

Interesting to note the relatively low amount of mergers/acquisitions seen by T-Mobile and Verizon over this time frame. Even more interesting, as Fierce Wireless reminds us, is back in 2005, only one out of every two Americans carried a cell phone. Now it's like every one American has two cell phones.

Verizon Discusses Small Cells, AOL by Neil Savage

Couldn’t snag tickets to the JPMorgan Global Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference this week? You know, the TMT conference hosting more CEOs than any other TMT investor conference in existence today? Yeah, we were too busy to get there, so good thing they’re posting the transcripts of some of the Q&A sessions, like this one with Fran Shammo,  EVP and CFO of Verizon Communications. The edited transcript in its entirety can be found here, but we highlighted some important dialogue regarding small cells and AOL:

[On Small Cells]

Phil Cusick, JP Morgan Analyst: You've talked about small cells a few times. How do you think about building those? Do you want to build and manage your own small-cell networks? Do you want to own the fiber in that territory? Or you're just as happy to have somebody else do it?

Fran Shammo: Yes, we lease a lot of fiber today. There are a lot of—there is a lot of competition actually in the fiber world. So we actually don't own a lot of the fiber that we have; we lease it. We own the electronics on both ends of it. But these are long-term leases, and we've done this for years, so this is nothing new to us. We don't need to own all of the small cells. We just entered into an agreement up in Boston for a 400-site densified antenna system that someone else built out, got all the zoning, has all the fiber. So we are leasing that from them. So there's a lot of alternatives out there today to create capacity, and it doesn't mean that I have to own and build and control everything. I can do that through third parties. I mean, it's similar to towers. I don't own my towers, but I still run my network off those towers. As long as I get the protections in the agreements that I need for the  longevity, then it's a perfect solution for us.

[On AOL]

Phil Cusick: Since you bring up AOL, you want to start with the driver for buying that, and what that means about your future video strategy?

Fran Shammo: Yes. If you think about how I've been talking about our launch of our video platform over-the-top that we are planning to launch this summer, we talked about a bunch of things; so let me just refresh what we've talked about. What we said is we were going to launch this, this summer, and it was really taking on three flavors. The first flavor being more of on-demand, when you want it, what you want to watch when you want it. And that's more or less the world we live in today. If you want to queue up something, you queue it up, you watch it; but it goes against your data bundle. That will still happen. Then you put in the multicast technology, and multicast allows us to deliver a live event to millions of customers extremely efficiently through our network. Now, keep in mind that the chipset of the multicast technology started in the fourth quarter of last year, so it's going to take about two years before you get a large quantity of customers who will have the technology embedded in their phones to enjoy that. That's going to be more of pay-per-view type thing. So if there is a World Cup game or a Super Bowl or a live concert, those types of events. Then the third thing we've talked about is where we would monetize video via an advertising model. What we think is this -- and you've seen some of the announcements we made with CBS and ESPN college sports and Awesomeness TV. We're going to bring a product to market where people can enjoy that product and they won't necessarily pay for it through their data bundle. Some people have called it the sponsored data model, but it's really going to be monetized through the advertising model. Hence we get to: why did we buy AOL? When you look at the asset set that we have, we developed the Verizon Digital Media Services; we attached upLynk and EdgeCast to that. That gave us the platform to efficiently deliver video and content, digitalize it, format it, and get it out to the end customer. Then we bought OnCue, which is the interface, the front of what the customer is going to see. So we had all the assets put together. The piece that we were missing was the ability to have an ad tech platform to insert the advertising. When we looked across the footprint for such a platform, we determined that AOL had probably one of the state-of-the-art, best-in-class platforms. That's what drove us to the AOL acquisition. So it was really around the ad tech platform and ad insertion tool that we needed to be successful with the launch. Now, there are some added benefits to bringing AOL in. First of all, they have some unique content around Huffington Post and TechCrunch; and that goes along with some of the other content that we have that can be put into this model. Then of course you have the subscription business, which obviously is not why we bought them; but it also generates all the cash flow of AOL. Then the fourth thing is we acquired a lot of talent. If you take the talent of our existing EdgeCast, upLynk, OnCue, VDMS people and put them in with AOL people, you now have a class set of human assets, if you will, who really understand this ecosystem. Having Tim Armstrong come on board to run this unit is really something that we look forward to, because he's obviously well known in the ecosystem. He's proven himself in this ecosystem, so we are really excited that he is going to come on board and run this unit. So we are extremely excited about this acquisition, and we think that this is something that we've been talking about, we said we were going after this big, and we're going after it big

Dish Inches Closer to Wireless Market by Neil Savage

We're slowly watching an industry evolve here, folks. Yep: slooooowly watching history unfold. It's a really slow unfolding process. Slug slow. Glacier slow. The-car-in-front-of-you-taking-a-left-turn-at-a-light slow. But still, change is coming as the Big Four carriers could soon see increased competition from non-traditional telecom providers like Google, who is heavily investing in voice-over wi-fi and wi-fi only data, and Dish, who invested heavily in spectrum licenses earlier this year. We don't yet know what Dish will offer, how they will offer it, or if they plan on teaming up with a traditional carrier, but they are aiming to become the only television provider to offer wireless voice, video and data services, according to an article uncovered by Yahoo! Finance.

On Passion and Leadership by CEO Doug Weston by Neil Savage

We brag a great deal about our company—our growth, our accolades, our work for our clients, and our atmosphere. But most of all, we brag about our employees. If you came into the Towersource office on any given day, you’d see bright and vibrant personalities supporting and encouraging each other both professionally and personally. It’s these personalities that bring the company success. And who’s the personality at the center of this success? Doug Weston, president and owner, the heart and the soul of the company. We recently asked Doug to share some of his secrets to running a successful company while keeping such a bright smile on his face. In typical Doug Weston fashion, he offered advice great not just for running a successful business, but also for running a successful life. Here is Doug’s response to our request for advice on running a firm:

As I get ready to depart on my sixth mission trip, I reflect on a related question—one that is often posed to me: “As an owner of a successful company, how can you take time away from the office for mission trips?” I respond with a simple question of my own: “How can I not?” But I wouldn’t have believed that response when I took my first mission trip.

In 2007, my church offered a trip to the Republic of Georgia. At that time, Towersource was undergoing moderate growth and, with just a handful of employees, we were very busy. I had my hands on most of the projects personally and was very involved in the business. Two weeks away from the company with absolutely no communication—email or phone or otherwise—seemed impossible and irresponsible. But I couldn’t ignore the opportunity; I had a calling. Despite the initial struggle of choosing whether or not to go, I made the temporary leap out of the business. And the trip truly did change my life and the life of Towersource.

I set a plan in motion about a month before I left on the trip. I started delegating my projects to all the great project managers I worked with. Each employee jumped at the chance. To my surprise, my plan worked so well that two weeks before I left, I found myself with nothing to do. I left with confidence, knowing all would be taken care of.

During the trip, I saw some devastating conditions and fell in love with the Republic of Georgia and the wonderful children, people, food, wine, and culture of the region. To say the least, the trip was a moving experience.

When I returned after two-and-a-half weeks, I was ready to jump back into my normal routine at Towersource. I chomped at the bit to get back to work, the same need that most entrepreneurs would feel. While I feared the mountain of emails that awaited me, I was motivated to put out any fires that flared in my absence.

But then I had a great revelation…

Things were running smoothly and everyone was doing a great job. And when things are running smoothly and everyone is doing their job, you stay out of their way. I wasn’t needed on the projects that I left. I began to use my extra time to work on the business and not in it. I was able to look weeks, months, years down the line, instead of having to narrow my focus on immediate projects. And as I backed away from these former projects, Towersource continued, and has continued, to see great growth.  

In hindsight, I discovered a couple key leadership lessons from the situation:

  • Sometimes, people just need the opportunity to be leaders. If you totally remove yourself, the true leaders will step up to prove themselves.
  • Taking time away to discover a passion forced me to empower those around me:
    • These new leaders were stretched and tested and because of that, they gained confidence. This confidence made a positive impact on the company as a whole.
    • The team became stronger and supported each other more and more as they stepped out of their comfort zone and contributed at increasing level.
    • The empowerment and contributions led many team members to realize their impact on and connection with their company, which fostered more loyalty, as they didn’t want to disappoint their co-workers or the company
  • And lastly, if you step away, you may discover another passion outside of the office.

In addition to helping Towersource, the passion and energy I discovered in the Republic of Georgia boiled over to my family, and we soon found ourselves on a family mission trip to Ecuador. Since then, my daughter and I took another trip to Ecuador and we followed that up with another trip to the Republic of Georgia, where my eldest son joined the two of us. Next week, my daughter and I are headed to the Republic of Georgia again, while my older son is going with his school to Guatemala.

I realize mission trips aren’t for everyone. I want you to discover whatever it is that will get you out of your comfort zone, push you a little, and hopefully help you discover your own passions and leadership skills inside and outside of the office.


Towersource Announces New Specialty: X-Ray Communications by Neil Savage

Forget microwave transmitters. Forget cell phones. We're thinking about the future. Deep space future.

Well, we're not really thinking about it. Yet, anyways. But NASA sure is. They ask questions like, "How will Google Maps work in space?" or "How will AAA know where my spaceship is so they can come tow it?"

Network World has some interesting details on NASA's bleeding edge technology:

"Some of the “revolutionary concepts” NASA detailed this week in its 2015 Technology Roadmaps sound like they are straight out of James Bond’s Q Branch – the research division that creates all of the super-agent’s really cool technology.

Amongst the myriad concepts outlined in the Roadmaps – which lay out the new technologies and directions NASA hopes will steer its aeronautics, science and human exploration missions for the next 20 years -- were six high-risk high-reward technologies the space agency says are so “far out” that exactly how they would be developed is a not clear yet, NASA said."

Click the link below for the full article.

Almost All Smartphones Sold Today Have the Same Two Flaws by Neil Savage

No, no, no. It's not clickbait. It's the truth: most smartphones are far from durable and have batteries lives far from the ideal length.

We're in the telecom business, so we ultimately thrive when more people are connected to their phone. But it's hard to be connected when your phone is cracked and/or dead. Consider CNET's article a call-to-arms to demand smartphone manufacturers fix these fatal flaws. Check out the whole article here.

"Flaw 1: Smartphones just aren't durable enough

Look around next time you're in an airport, on a train, or at a Starbucks. I bet almost everyone in your field of vision has a case on his or her phone.

Of course, there's a class of confident souls who carry their phones naked, sans case. Many never have a problem. Others aren't so lucky, as evidenced by the number of people I see riding the New York City subway using case-less phones with cracked screens."

Verizon Communications Buying AOL for $4.4B by Neil Savage

You've got a buyer...

RCR Wireless brings us news of Verizon purchasing former juggernaut AOL. We hear it's just to own their stable of CDs containing hundreds of hours of free internet access. From RCR:

"Verizon Communications is diving deeper into digital content with an agreement to buy AOL for $50/share, or approximately $4.4 billion. The nation’s leading wireless carrier said that AOL will boost its LTE wireless video business, its “over-the-top” video offerings and will create “a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses.”

While AOL is not well-known for wireless video, it has invested in a digital advertising platform. The company also owns valuable content brands, including Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch and Makers.

For Verizon, this is the latest in a string of acquisitions aimed at beefing up its digital media business. Last year the carrier bought Intel Media for Internet video technology, content delivery network EdgeCast Networks, and live video encoder UpLynk.

Check out the rest of the article here."

Building a Network in Miniature by Neil Savage

Verizon is known for many things: great coverage, "can you hear me now?", and for being one of the few truly successful companies whose name is a portmanteau. Add another accolade to the list: great at explaining things. Check out Kevin Fitchard's article that explains small cells, those tiny cell sites that the wireless world is all atwitter about. Excerpt:

"There’s a reason why the devices in our pockets are known as “smart” phones. These sophisticated gadgets have brought the computing and internet revolutions from our desktops to our palms, and every year they grow more powerful. But our handsets aren’t the only things in the mobile world evolving.

Just as our phones have changed from voice-centric to data-centric devices, the networks that connect them have undergone their own transformation. The most obvious change has been the rapid migration away from 2G and 3G networks to much faster 4G LTE technologies, making a 5 or 10 Mbps mobile connection the norm in the United States. But mobile operators aren’t just upgrading the radio technologies that connect your phone. They’re also changing the fundamental design of the network to meet these new data demands."

Find the whole article here. Definitely worth a read if you don't have much exposure to small cell technology!


April Safety Newsletter by Neil Savage

We publish a bi-monthly safety newsletter. (That's once every two months, not twice a month, for the record.) We realize that we're five weeks late putting this up for everyone to see, but please don't tell our boss; he's a bear in the mornings before he has his coffee. If you'd like to get the newsletters in a timely fashion, you should sign up here. And don't try to answer the trivia question properly, because it's done already been answered.

Top of the Morning, Extended Towersource Family!

Welcome to issue #3 of the award winning* Towersource Safety Newsletter. Our goal is to communicate safety and proper protocol to our clients, vendors, and team members. And since we ain’t no April Fools, we’re dedicating this edition to a very serious topic in the telecom industry: fall safety. While you’re learning, don’t forget the contest hidden somewhere in this issue!

How Much Do You Know About: Fall Safety?


No, we’re not talking about safety in autumn. We’re talking about the best practices to avoid injuries—or worse—caused by heights. In the U.S. construction industry, falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. On average each year, between 150 and 200 workers are killed and more than 100,000 are injured as a result of falls.
The OHSA standard for fall protection states: “Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal or vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems.” If we drill down further into the OHSA rules, we learn there are two broad types of fall protection: fall restraints and fall arrests. Fall restraints include items like guardrails and parapet walls, while fall arrests stop workers should they actually fall.
A personal fall arrest system must be capable of withstanding the tremendous impact forces involved in a fall. Thanks to Newton and his laws of gravity, a person without protection will free fall 4 feet in half of a second and 16 feet in just one second! Hitting a solid surface at that speed can cause dire injury or death. A personal fall arrest system will minimize the distance a person can fall and includes a full body harness, a shock absorbing lanyard or a rope grab—all attached to a sound anchorage point. The anchor placement is key, and should be able to support a load of 5,000 pounds.  Or about three rhinoceroses. Or about 1/3rd of an African elephant.
Speaking of Isaac Newton, what famous British academy of sciences did Newton head from 1703-1727? The first person to email wins a gift card and a Towersource polo! Woohoo!

Some DOs and DO NOTs for Using Personal Fall Arrest Safety Equipment:

•Do tie off above your head. A six-foot tall person who ties off at the feet could free-fall as much as 12 feet.
•Do place your anchorage directly above/behind your work area to avoid potential swing fall hazards.
•Do use the shortest lanyard possible. The shorter the tie-off, the shorter the fall.
•Do have anchorage points selected by a competent person.
•Do not tie a knot in the lanyard. This will reduce its strength.
•Do not allow more than one worker to tie-off to the same anchorage unless it is designed and approved by an engineer.
•Do not allow someone else to rig your equipment unless you verify that it has been done correctly.