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WIA recap: tower companies turn focus to densification efforts

The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) held Connect (X) in Atlanta, GA, this month, bringing together the full complement of industry experts tasked with ensuring the communications infrastructure is well-positioned to support the data-guzzling applications that people count on every day. Under the theme of “Connectivity Everywhere,” representatives from the phone, tower, commercial real estate infrastructure, data centers and neutral host companies, along with industry stakeholders and government officials, engaged in lively discussions and debates centered around fulfilling the promise of universal 5G connectivity.

As with most shows in 2024, AI dominated many speaking sessions. At this show specifically, however, the need to have the infrastructure in place to support the applications was more in focus as it is painfully obvious that regardless of how the interactions were driven – whether via AI or humans – the demand on the physical infrastructure would surge.

With no new spectrum allocations on the immediate horizon, the conversation turned to preparing for the inevitable densification to support the rising data needs, while spectrum remains stagnant. A “build it and they will (have no choice) but to come” model creates both opportunity and pressure for everyone in the infrastructure ecosystem. Dealing with both higher usage and more applications to support, the WIA members are in an enviable position and must now focus on operational efficiencies to ensure they are getting the most out of the assets they have today.

In one session, panelists and audience members discussed the merits of a standard way for tower companies to share information about what assets exist and where they are located in a specific region. Interestingly, while the infrastructure industry might not have a way to share this information seamlessly across the ecosystem, the telecommunications industry does. Decades ago, the telco industry established and built the key foundational elements through the defacto (industry) standard TruOps™ Common Language data sets. As the phone companies sell their tower assets, the new owners become the beneficiaries of that data, which includes comprehensive information on equipment and locations. 

When it comes to locations, Common Language® CLLI™ Codes provide added value to the towercos by giving them visibility into every tower and interconnection point that exists. The phone companies have already coded each location as part of their normal operating practices. Unlocking that information and integrating it into their systems allows the towercos to see every location, which helps with network planning and operations while simultaneously providing value to the broader service provider network of definitively knowing the wireless capabilities at each location. 

When it comes to equipment, Common Language CLEI™ Codes provide towercos with visibility into what CLEI-coded equipment exists on their towers. That key data helps identify equipment that is unused or should be decommissioned. That then saves power, frees real estate and allows for more efficient network planning and service activation. CLEI Codes also offer a network view feature that provides an interactive digital map view, making it even simpler to visualize, which eliminates the time-consuming process of manually matching specific location data to a map, further streamlining network planning, service activations and new technology rollouts. It also allows the towercos to input detailed information into their software systems and processes to help make their digital twins more accurate for their customers. Having a shared piece of common data reduces the myriad of integration points and manual processes that are currently used to keep that info updated and relevant.

While towercos might not be aware that this data is available to them, the reality is that it already exists within the Common language data infrastructure and that by tapping into it, their data is more accurate, their employees are more productive, customer support is elevated and their bottom line is more profitable.