T-Mobile's Dave Mayo calls for 'industrialization' of the wireless infrastructure space

DALLAS -- T-Mobile executives like to say the operator's "uncarrier" strategy is aimed at easing the "pain points" consumers often suffer with their wireless service providers. Dave Mayo, the carrier's senior vice president of technology, said this morning that carriers have their own pain points when it comes to maintaining and expanding their networks -- which means the infrastructure segment may be ripe for disruption as the industry moves toward 5G.

In a keynote address here to attendees of the annual event hosted by the Wireless Infrastructure Association -- a group that rebranded from its well-known PCIA moniker this week -- Mayo offered a litany of headaches network operators regularly deal with. Birds' nests often prohibit carriers from maintaining or upgrading towers, he said, sites are sometimes difficult to access, and workers in the field don't always bring the right keys to gain entry.

"It's too complicated; it's not sustainable," Mayo said, calling for the "industrialization" of the infrastructure industry. "The area seems rife with opportunity from my perspective."

Those woes are only increasing as carriers look to small cells to densify their networks, particularly in highly populated regions. Those deployments often require the approval of municipalities, adding layers of red tape to the process of expanding mobile networks.

"We've got to find a way to work with municipalities so we can get quick access and industrialize our ability to deploy small cells," Mayo urged. "We're being a little too cavalier in some cases and messing up our ability to deploy small cells. And I really don't want to do that."

Those remarks echo last week's comments by Verizon CFO Fran Shammo, who observed that it takes roughly 24 months just to deploy a small cell in some cities.

Those wrinkles need to be ironed out as small cell deployments ramp up, and network operators will need to adjust their strategies as they expand their focus beyond traditional tower sites, according to Mayo. Macrocell deployments will still occur "for a while," he said, so operators will have to be more flexible with their deployment strategies.

Small cell deployments shouldn't be planned and executed "with the same kind of processes we've used to build macrocells," he said. "We've got to, as an industry, find a way to industrialize" both traditional tower and small cell deployments.

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