Inside Towers Pro Panel Covers 5G Infrastructure Strategy

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Yesterday’s Pro Panel hosted by Inside Towers Business Editor John Celentano literally covered some spectrum by taking a look at strategies and the wireless infrastructure behind 5G network deployment. The industry cross-section of panelists included Danny Agresta, President and CEO of APC Towers; Jennifer Alvarez, CEO of Aurora Insight; Scott Jackson, National Market Manager, Broadband of Graybar; and Jim Neuens, VP/General Manager at VIAVI Solutions. View the entire session here

The panel told a cautionary-yet-optimistic tale of what’s to come in 2021, given the flatness of the COVID-induced landscape in 2020 and the hurdles still ahead.

“5G is going to take time,” Agresta said, “with mergers, the pandemic and carriers not being as aggressive as in the past, it is taking time to rollout.” 

Graybar’s Jackson agreed, saying demand is outpacing supply in the race to build out 5G.

Workforce training was cited by panelists as another limiting factor to rollout. VIAVI’s Neuens said fiber and cable skillsets need to be developed for those in the field when it comes to splicing. Fiber cables often get mixed up, Neuens said, causing problems in configuration management.

The promise of market growth in 2021 still held some potential for the panelists, with the opening of new spectrum, an aggressive co-locator in DISH, infrastructure legislation and increased carrier capex.  Alvarez of Aurora Insight said they are seeing new developments across the midwest in the C-band sector although she noted, “lots of spectrum clearing and network planning needs to be done.”

Using a survey app during the panel, the 400-plus attendees expressed optimism for a “promising outlook” for 2021, with 43 percent giving a thumbs up. Another 25 percent said they had a “positive” outlook. The remaining 32 percent had an “uncertain” or “negative” outlook. 

Keep an eye out for an in-depth Pro Panel analysis, to be published next week.

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