Small cells are seen by wireless carriers as 5G building blocks, but not everyone sees them in such a positive light. From concerns about the health impact of street side radios to arguments about aesthetics to complex permitting procedures, 5G building blocks face plenty of stumbling blocks.
As local disputes about small cells find their way into national news, the wireless industry is working hard to remind communities about the benefits of wireless broadband. Now, two of the first companies to develop robust small cell businesses have invested in a certification that highlights the positive potential of small cells.
NextEdge Networks and Modus, which joined forces in a merger late last year, say they are the first wireless services and infrastructure companies to be Certified B Corporations in the United States. B Corporations are certified by the nonprofit B Lab, which evaluates companies based on how they create value for stakeholders who do not have a direct financial interest in the company. Corporate impact on communities and the environment are key considerations. According to the Harvard Business Review, identifying as a B Corporation is a way to publicly claim an identity as an organization interested in both shareholder and stakeholder success.
“At a time when it is estimated that nearly one-fourth of all urban residents in the U.S. lack access to high-quality and affordable broadband, we are in a unique position to help solve the Digital Divide for the many cities and residents that are facing these challenges," said Doug Wiest, CEO of NextEdge Networks, in a press release. "As the first wireless services and infrastructure B Corp in the United States, we feel privileged with the opportunity to have a positive impact on the cities and broader communities in which we work and reside.”
Erik Corkery, executive vice president of Modus, said his company has the potential to help cities become "smart communities with smart buildings through better wireless connectivity." Modus was one of the first companies to work on a major small cell deployment in the United States. When Verizon added hundreds of small cells in San Francisco ahead of the 2016 Super Bowl, Modus was Verizon's construction partner for the nodes south of Market Street.
Now, Modus is working on 5G deployments on the West Coast. NextEdge and Modus say their teams designed and installed the nation’s first 5G evolution site and marketwide 5G network, as well as the country’s first CBRS support network.
At the time of their merger in the fall of 2017, NextEdge Networks and Modus said they had executed over 4,000 node deployments across 40 states, including more than 3,500 fiber to cell installations. The companies are funded by Titan Grove, which formed NextEdge Networks in 2016 when it purchased the small cell assets of EdgeConnex. Titan Grove says it "strives to invest in businesses which provide services and products that enhance society and the quality of people’s lives."