Wireless tech in Northern Nevada and the Sierras pt. 2

30 07 2011


Nevada’s inventory tax structure has lead to quite a few companies taking advantage of Reno’s west coast centralized location.  Seattle to San Diego to Salt Lake City, we have a same day delivery opportunity.  And where there is warehouse, there is company infrastructure.  Many “distributors” have an in-house call center that specializes in their product.

We are blessed with Tessco having a facility that you can drive your C-130 up to for loading.  I am reticent to admit that there has been more than one situation where I’ve had to give my Amex to the receptionist for emergency repairs.  That is their commitment to support.  Far more than simply a distro hub, Tessco is a full solution provider for much of your wireless and wired telco infrastructure needs.  They have engineers and solutions providers on premises most hours of the week.  I am happy to say that they saved my “tuchas” more than once.   In repayment, I have certainly sent engineers and customers their direction and also have made the cell site across from their location a training tool, instructing new hires etc. on the real world applications.  Tessco also sponsors local tech-events that not only educates the local techies, but also brings in a great many visitors – especially from the government sector.  I hope they continue that vane and I will help publicize as I can.

Those little curly cue antenna’s everyone had on the back of their Mercedes in the ’90s:  hmm, I apologize for no picture as there seem to be legal reasons not to post the patch antenna pattern

Irregardless (because you’ve never heard of a ‘guardless’), my springboard to Lucent was at Allen Telecom’s Antenna Specialist Research and Development lab on Longley.   Besides watching the coyotes moussing where Gold’s Gym is today, we designed and developed the comb line filters, the cavity resonators as well as the antennas.  We tested to mil-spec many types of communications equipment for several governments.  The filters we designed on Longley, and later at the new facilty off Prater went into many thousand cell sites around the world.

As it works in telcom as much as aero, there is much turbulence (from which we can grasp the ideas out of chaos).  The Antenna Specialists R&D lab became part of the Allen Telecom Group, bought by Decibel, bought by Andrew, bought by Commscope.  Who, incidentally, has a manufacturing facility off Gregg St in Sparks.  Here you have the heartbeat of wireless.  They ship material around the world and have every incentive to build on their technology roots.

Given our locality, I should mention that nearly all of the wireless telcom inventory that the western civilization should need into the foreseeable future is in a warehouse in Patrick.

I’m going to wrap on that thought.  But let me just say, that should the SHTF, there is no other location that is self supportive as we are.  We have all the emergency supplies that are already to be distro’d out west.  And we also have the meat of the infrastructure  on standby.


Wireless tech in Northern Nevada and the Sierras pt. 1

29 07 2011

My work in wireless began in the very early 90’s with Truckee Communications doing tower work.  At that time the bag phone ruled the town because it had more power output than the “bricks”, and let’s face it, neither was fitting into a pocket.  The mainstay communication technology was not cellular but paging (remember beepers!)  Since those days, I have seen several success stories thrive in the area.

One of the products I use all the time comes out of Carson City.  Polyphaser makes a product that absorbs the brunt of a lightning strike at the base of a telecommunications tower.  Without this product, the lightning would travel down the tower and into and destroying the extremely expensive  telecom equipment.  This bit of insurance is used by every major cell service provider in the world and Polyphaser is one of the largest design and manufacturer of these little saviors.

Brightpoint is a company many of us have dealt with but perhaps never knew.  They are a major distributor for cell phones including a lot of the refurb units.  They first moved down the street from my office off Capital but later moved to a larger warehouse in Sparks.  I’ve befriended their engineers at UNR’s MBA program and it seems they are pretty active.   They moved an astounding 99 million handset (not just locally) in 2010.  From their website:

In 2009 Brightpoint was included on the FORTUNE 500, and in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Brightpoint was selected as one of America’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE Magazine, ranking in the top 5 of the “Wholesalers: Electronics” category each year.

Great Basin Internet Service was one of the first WISPs and still has a network I’d like to know more about:)  The Reno area has been well served by this service provider even several years BG (Before Google).

The Reno Tahoe market has been a test bed for several carriers as well.  Sprint’s first (THE first but for Monet, a small local provider at St. Paul, MN) EVDO market was Boise 2002, but Reno was only a few months behind.  Still well ahead of the major metropolises like San Francisco that had to wait until Memorial Day 2005.  Clearwire launched their pre-Wimax 4G network in sprint of 2006, and is still trying to build and launch in the Sacramento area.  Samsung had a test facility here for awhile too in the mid-2000’s.  Airpeak had their unique brand of iDEN/GSM network that recently shuttered as well.

In part 2 I’ll discuss a few more successes like Tessco and Commscope that are helping fuel our local economy.

High Tech Sectors in the Sierras

27 07 2011


When the topic of high technology comes up, many people envision scientists in lab coats looking at beakers of colorful smoking liquids, scribbling notes on clipboards.  While that may be true in some cases, it is not the only way scientists and engineers push the limits of our knowledge.  In fact, these folks are all around us going to work not just at the places like IGT that you’ve likely heard of, but at Altair Nanotechnologies and Advanced Refining Concepts, Inc. as well as many others.  So what is high technology?

Wikipedia defines High Technology as the  technology that is at the cutting edge: the most advanced technology currently  available.

The OECD (Organization for Economic  Cooperation and Development) includes several industries in the high tech sector:

To make things even more crystal clear, the OECD also specifies medium-high tech and so forth depending on the level of R&D investment.  One of the Wiki authors even admits, “It can be concluded, that companies in a high-technology industry do not necessary produce high-technology products and vice-versa.”   This leaves us with a broad definition of high tech and plenty of fodder for discussion.

In terms of this blog, I will not be splitting hairs on what is high tech, rather, Iwill be discussing anyone that is pushing the limits and focusing on how that affects us in the Sierras and Great Basin.

And that’s not all.  For the region to have a thriving high tech scene, there are several supporting factors that must be in place.  We need a reasonable tax base to attract entrepreneurs, and those taxes must result in quality K-12 and higher education and the infrastructure to support manufacturing.  Finally, the area must have a source of funding new prospects be it from the banking sector, the Venture Capitalists, and/or the Angels that have more money than time.  Of course, another topic that I may have to touch on would be any legislation or regulation that is affecting the community although I plan on staying out of politics (unless absolutely necessary).

Tune in next time and I’ll discuss the wireless industry and how our region has made several contributions to make your cell phone work.   Some of these locally designed products are used worldwide.

Thanks for Your Time.

Welcome Friends!

23 07 2011

We have a problem in the area surrounding Northern Nevada.  There is a perception that the region does not have a high tech community.  This misguided view hurts our ability to attract new business and keep talented resources in our market.  I am starting this blog to highlight all of the accomplishments the region has under our belt and to build an online dialogue with like-minded individuals.  As we build the community and presence we will naturally dispel the myth and we can together tackle other issues.

We have another responsibility as a community as well.  We need to sustain our professions.  We are not graduating engineering and science degrees nearly in the amount that we need to.  We must fill the attention gap that might allow inquisitive youth to wander away into other careers.  By being a fun, welcoming and mentoring community — and by showing off a little in public, we can ignite the fires of curiosity that may sustain local students through their college studies.

Together we can also work to influence other regional stakeholders.  People that speak with one voice draw more attention.  By building a community we can better harmonize our message.  One of the first goals, for instance, could be to draw attention to the lack of a store like Fry’s in the region. Don’t get me wrong, Sandy’s is great, they are friendly and helpful and they are the only game in town, so it could be worse.  I think you will agree that together we can be more effective at finding resolutions to our pressing issues.  As a community we will also find ways to help ourselves solve our own problems.  Sometimes it can be very helpful to have a friendly eye review a conundrum and help brainstorm resolutions.

I am a native of Reno and have traveled quite a bit as a radio-frequency engineer.  Currently I work for a large transnational telcom OEM as well as for myself.  You can get more background on my history on the About Paul tab on this page above, as well as on LinkedIn.  This blog is not specifically about me, but obviously will be flavored by my interests and access to information.  If you have a topic you would like covered, please, by any means, contact me.

Therefore, I intend to blog at least once every week and talk about the exciting happenings that really are going on all around us.  Please join me on this blog as an email subscription, as an RSS feed, even on Twitter, @psrenotech.  This is my first blog and will kindly accept any advice or corrections you may have to offer.

Please, join me in making this place even better.  Thanks for your Time.


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