Accelerating Small Cell Site Development
For those navigating the world of 5G Small Cell Site Development, the challenges to get a site built and commissioned on schedule and on budget are numerous. Applicants are on tight timelines for site rollouts and every day and dollar spent matters in the race for 5G. The potential roadblocks lie seemingly everywhere, including overlapping permitting jurisdictions, variable municipal requirements, securing qualified general contractors, and even the specific requirements of individual utilities.
Potential issues that arise during the utility colocation request stage can be especially challenging. By this stage of the process, the small cell applicant has invested significant time and money to move forward with site designs and permits for a specific candidate site. Oftentimes a utility will not process an application until a full set of construction drawings are provided and the applicable municipal permits have been submitted and approved – well down the road on the schedule and funding curve for the applicant.
In working with its carrier customers, Leidos has encountered significant changes to candidate locations based on the utility’s review. Oftentimes, specific site constraints are identified in the utility’s first review, where issues delivering power to a particular site are recognized. The constraints can either cause significant delays to the site or it may be rejected altogether, costing the applicant additional time and money. Some examples of site constraints include: no reasonable power source nearby; the nearest power source is not the correct voltage; the nearest power source requires a private easement or an especially difficult permit; or even the nearest power source requires special construction crews to access (i.e. downtown underground or network systems). There may also be site constraints associated with the selected pole itself. What looks like an unimportant or inconsequential attachment to the untrained eye can be a deal breaker to a utility engineer. It is not uncommon for utilities to reject additional small cell antenna attachments on poles that support specific equipment or construction. Some examples include poles with sectionalizing switches or poles with three or more conduit risers.
To help solve these challenges, Leidos helps small cell applicants avoid costly delays and redesigns. With a combined background in power engineering and small cell site development experience, Leidos offers preliminary power designs and end-to-end site acquisition and A&E services to carriers. Leidos engineers work with small cell applicants much earlier in the site development process (as early as the site acquisition/Site Candidate Information Package [SCIP phase]) to develop preliminary site power routes including construction cost estimates and identification of potential construction delays, allowing an applicant to avoid potentially problematic sites as early in the design/application phase as possible. In instances where significant site constraints exist, Leidos engineers provide mitigation plans or can recommend alternate site candidates. Identification of issues in the earliest stages of development – via preliminary designs or end-to-end site acquisition – helps small cell applicants make informed and timely decisions about candidate locations, thus keeping them on schedule and on budget before investing significant dollars in full drawings and permits. Applicants see the fees associated with performing these preliminary power designs as an effective “insurance policy” to make sure that their small cell sites make it through the utility application process quicker and less expensively and with fewer rejections.
Leidos combines its broad utility expertise along with experience delivering solutions for 5G site acquisition and development to help small cell applicants set a roadmap that meets their specific needs. Leidos has leveraged this expertise to help Verizon Wireless and AT&T deliver small cell sites to construction-ready faster than other engineering service providers. Our 5G expertise is recognized beyond just mobile carriers. A number of large electric utilities across the U.S., including Seattle City Light, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Ameren currently rely on Leidos to help them adapt to the 5G world.
With more than 70 years of experience in the utility industry, Leidos has a proven history of helping its customers successfully assess their readiness to support new regulations and requirements, as well as developing longer term strategies for continued success. Leidos helps its customers develop and implement solutions to their unique challenges by evaluating existing systems, assessing where improvements need to be made, and developing solutions that are uniquely tailored to meet these challenges.