The Telecom Birddogs(sm)
Firmly Anchored in Midair(sm)
These are the directions toward Understanding and
Competence in the Process of Developing Wireless
Infrastructure, that is to take a wireless facility
development project from receipt of a Site
Acquisition Assignment a/k/a the Search Ring
Assignment through Site Search and Site Selection
to completion of quality real estate entitlements
in the form of Space Rights and Local Permit Rights
making the project ready for Construction,
Installation, and/or Implementation.
The Roadmap demonstrates there are fifteen (15) essential functions or Stages,
that we also call Site Development Processes, between receipt of a search ring
and the successful completion/documentation of real estate entitlements
necessary for the implementation of the proposed wireless facility. These
processes are part of seven levels of job competence however the first level
is merely preparation and orientation and doesn’t actually include a process.
The first level focuses on how and why site ring assignments are created, the
project milestones to come in the fifteen processes, information about the
equipment that is located at wireless facilities, the job of site acquisition, and
how the structure of the wireless industry lends itself to the ongoing need for
site acquisition services for new facilities and modification of existing facilities.
This website’s training curriculum flows out from the roadmap. That is, each
Stage or Process contains one, two three, or six modules (except the last three
processes in the seventh and final level of the training). The last three processes
are, more or less, modules unto themselves.
In the “Preparation for Wireless Site Acquisition” section that immediately
follows this, only Module 1 is available without purchasing the entire training
curriculum on this website. That is because Module 1 explains how and why
you may want to associate yourself with the high-growth wireless infrastructure
deployment industry and learn about the business of wireless site development.
The remainder of the “Preparation” stage is all prelude to Stage 1- Site Search
Due Diligence and the remainder of the entire comprehensive curriculum.
As you progress through the Roadmap, each Step of a given Stage provides one
or more links to the Training Module(s) associated with that Site Development
Process. The completion of each Process/Stage, Step, and Module is pre-requisite
to start the next subsequent Process/Stage, Step, and Module. Another way to get
the Modules is from the Curriculum tab in the Main Menu.
Access to the entire course can be purchased in the store.
To bring focus on the site acquisition and permitting perspective in wireless deployments we start at the big-picture level- how the nation’s wireless service carriers relate to their investments in radio technology infrastructure. This discussion goes so far as to establish a link between wireless carriers and their use of frequency spectrum, their need to perform site acquisition to expand wireless facilities, and their industry relationships with service contractors, turf vendors, and companies that specialize in communications site ownership and management (a/k/a tower-cos).
Module 1 Wireless Industry Structure
Module 1 Industry Structure draws these relationships into a discussion of wireless facilities site acquisition, project management, and the values wireless facility developers look for in the men and women who perform site acquisition.
A basic understanding of the topics presented in this first section provides the wireless deployment novice with enough background about the project environment to assume responsibilities for a search area assignment. This is preparation for the subject matter in Level II, Birddog Certificate Training- Wireless/Project Site Search Due Diligence Research.
Search and identify specific properties as candidates for development based upon client-provided criteria, property owner interest, and the local application of land-use regulations.
There are six steps to initiate search area assignments.
(1) Identify existing structures.
(2) Find favorable zoning districts for a new antenna structure.
(3) Focus on suitable properties with land space in favorable zoning districts.
(4) Eliminate from consideration undesirable surface areas for construction.
(5) Determine the most desirable land space for the construction.
(6) Qualify the owners of existing structures and the most desirable land space for construction based upon property owner interest, willingness to accept the proposed parameters for the development, and the availability of desirable space.1
Assemble and submit a detailed report identifying qualifying candidates for selection consideration.
It is essential to prepare for the site developer/client detailed reports characterizing the landscape, property ownership, and local permitting guidelines in a search area resulting from a visit to the neighborhood, meetings with property owners, and a thorough evaluation of alternatives. This is the process of documenting site candidates. In the initial site search stage, a summary of critical factors is necessary to document each site in the SAR. Once a location is selected for project development, more detail is documented in the SCIP.
Participate in the site selection discussion by answering other team members’ questions, conducting further research, and reporting prior to site selection.
Site selection is directed by the wireless facility developer’s real estate point of contact to whom the site acquisition consultant reports. The input for site selection is the search area report, including any necessary updates and clarification from the site acquisition consultant. Site selection is determined primarily based on the preferences expressed by the RF engineer and the construction manager under the guidance of the client’s real estate point of contact.
Complete in-depth report to satisfy data requirements for the team to proceed with the project to develop wireless infrastructure on the selected site.
Now that a qualified location has been selected, a report is necessary to provide a much greater level of detail about the property than was necessary for the search area report. This in-depth report, known as a site candidate information package (SCIP), is used to develop a set of plans or drawings for a wireless facility. Information in the SCIP assists the project team members in their roles to develop plans and real estate entitlements. An effective SCIP format not only helps others on the project team but also benefits the site acquisition consultant, who prepares it by capturing and communicating comprehensive property data.
Coordinate, schedule, and track project team due diligence.
At this stage, the focus is directed to engaging project team members to complete tasks leading to real estate entitlements and preparation for site construction. This means one or more technical site visits will be undertaken by some members of the project team, such as the A&E firm, the surveyor, the construction manager, and the environmental consultant. The SCIP report is now available to team members. Be clear that due diligence activities are not completed yet. In fact, they are only being initiated by some other members of the project team now.
Prepare, coordinate, and process applications for collocations.
From the beginning of this text, placing new wireless facilities on existing structures has been emphasized. In Module 6 Search Area Design, considering existing structures by RF engineers was a primary consideration taken into account. A site acquisition consultant’s initial evaluation of an assignment includes consideration of potential existing structure collocations, as discussed in Module 7 Search Area Assignment. Zoning officials always want to know if existing structures could be made use of, as mentioned in Module 9 Zone-ability, and discussed in Module 28 Local Permit Applications.
Coordinate, order, and track title work, site surveys, lease exhibits, environmental reports, regulatory reports, and construction drawings.
To develop new wireless facility structures on vacant land extensive coordination is needed to perform property due diligence regarding the title commitment to the property, the land survey, environmental compliance, other regulatory reports, and drawings from the A&E firm. The site acquisition consultant is at the center of this activity because each of these endeavors grows out of site search and selection and impacts space rights, local permit rights, and preparation of the property for construction and operation.
Advise and assist project managers and construction managers with project perspectives. Interpret, review, and redline, if necessary, site sketches, surveys, and construction drawings.
As the member of the project team with the most intimate understanding of the property chosen to develop a wireless facility, its property owner, and the local permit process, the site acquisition consultant is in the best position to provide project managers, construction managers, and the A&E firm perspective about the property and its owner. While not expected to make site design decisions, the site acquisition consultant is well suited to call out site design features that might cause a problem for the property owner and the local jurisdiction. It’s not just a good idea; it ensures that your project is managed correctly. For this reason, review all site sketches, surveys, and zoning and construction drawings, knowing you bear the ultimate responsibility to score quality space rights and local permit rights at the earliest possible opportunity.
Negotiate agreements to acquire or modify space and use rights for infrastructure installation and operation. Obtain property owner approval on engineering drawings and zoning/permit applications.
Wireless carrier, site developer, and facility investor clients use standard forms for space rights agreements. These forms have been drafted by legal counsel to match the client’s criteria. Some property owners or their representatives may comment that a wireless facility developer’s agreement is one-sided; others will say it is fair. In either case, wireless facility developers require quality space rights and the property owner has ample opportunity to influence the language of the final agreement through good-faith negotiations.
Coordinate the process to finalize desirable space rights agreements and actively pursue processing so that projects may progress without unnecessary delays.
Finalization is critical to the establishment of legal rights such as wireless facility space rights. Unless space rights documentation is correctly executed and recorded, the agreements may not secure the quality guarantees desired and required by the facility developer. It is the site acquisition consultant’s responsibility to see the process progress through to completion, avoiding unnecessary delays. Time is of the essence.
Prepare, complete, obtain property owner approval for, and submit zoning and building permit applications to local authorities. Serve as the point of contact for local inquiries.
As soon as possible after space rights negotiation, lease exhibits, and the land survey are completed, zoning permit applications can be submitted if permit drawings, the land survey, and engineering reports are available. This keeps the project’s local permit rights process moving as quickly as can be expected. The same applies to submitting building permit applications when construction drawings and associated reports are available and at the soonest date the jurisdiction will allow submittal. Zoning permit approval may be required before the building permit application can be accepted.
Coordinate the permit process, including support from vendors and outside counsel. Prepare for and attend public hearings, as necessary, to secure permit approvals.
Now that local permit applications have been made and reviewed by the jurisdiction staff, inquiries may be made of the applicant for additional information. It is important to accurately respond to local inquiries about a proposed wireless facility. Support for providing requested information may be secured from other members of the project team or through research.
Track, expedite, and document the progress of events leading to the acquisition of all real property entitlements necessary to build and operate wireless infrastructure (Project Management).
Now that the processes to complete space rights and local permit rights entitlements have been discussed to their conclusion I’d like to float some project management concepts that can be helpful to the site acquisition consultant. In recent years, the wireless industry has begun to employ more certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs) to manage deployment projects than in the past. Today, a PMP designation is highly valued. Project management science is well worth your study.
Site Development Process #14
Wireless Infrastructure Project
Coordinate handoff of the project with real estate entitlement close-out documentation for construction personnel to commence site construction (ProjectClose-out Lessons).
In some site development projects, a member of the project team ensures that the building permit is secure and that the handoff to the construction contractor is smooth. Other than the site acquisition consultant, the A&E firm might be the best equipped to do this. After all, the A&E firm is best prepared to formulate the bid drawings for the construction manager to solicit quotes from general contractors to build the wireless facility. With appropriate documentation from the site acquisition consultant, the A&E firm working for the construction manager can handle this step. In any event, we want to be sure the construction contractor can start work immediately.
Site Development Process #15
Wireless Infrastructure Project
Remain the primary property owner and jurisdiction project contact regarding issues as they arise (Customer Service).
After the work is done and the site is operational, why is it that the site acquisition consultant continues to get calls from the property owner and the jurisdiction about the facility? Probably habit. For the property owner, the site acquisition consultant was an advocate as well as the company representative. Certainly, the property owner still has your phone number. You were there from your initial contact looking for a qualified location and through site visit introductions, space rights negotiations, permit rights hearings, and approvals. For the jurisdiction, the site acquisition consultant was the project applicant, answered all inquiries, and represented the facility developer at public hearings. They certainly still have your contact information.
Upon the completion of the Customer Service Recommendations,
you have completed the Telecom BirdDogs LLC Firmly Anchored in Midair: Wireless Site Acquisition and Permitting Training. The wireless broadband industry is ever-changing through advancements in technology and a complicated regulatory climate. Please feel free to share your experiences with this curriculum and in your wireless deployment career, acquiring space rights and local permits.