SDT’s Wireless Division Profiled in AGL Magazine

Infrastructure Builder Adds DAS, Small Cell Capabilities
July 14, 2013 | by J. Sharpe Smith | DAS-1 | No Comments

True to its name, Mississippi-based Southern Diversified Technologies has diversified again. The cell tower builder and general infrastructure maker, is expanding its wireless division into DAS and small cell deployments.

It is a logical progression. SDT can use skill sets from all of its five service divisions — wireless, wireline, inside plant, managed services and real estate services — to deploy small cell and DAS networks through what it calls an integrated project delivery model. In particular, SDT has personnel with knowledge of fiber optics, real estate, as well as wireless.

James Ezell, president of SDT, said, “The fast pace and demanding nature of the industry today requires new thinking and new approaches to integrated project delivery. This aggressive expansion of the wireless division gives SDT the ability to perform for our customers on both sides of the tower fence.”

SDT added its wireless division a year and a half ago, and it was a similar diversification. Cell tower construction complemented its fiber-to-the-tower expertise, using outside plant engineering and construction personnel. That division now boasts 45 employees including a dozen tower crews.

Ezell and Charlie Smith, SDT CEO, have a long history together in telecom infrastructure. Before they began SDT 20 years ago, they co-founded CommTech Technical Services in 1986.

As president of CommTech, Ezell won large network construction projects with AT&T, BellSouth, MCI and others in the telecommunications industry. “Carriers have always been our biggest customer,” Ezell said. “Back in 1986, we did a lot of construction of long-haul fiber routes for them.”

The philosophy of diversification developed at CommTech carried over to Southern Diversified when it was founded in 1999.

”SDT now has 20 years of experience in finding niche capabilities in the utility infrastructure arena,” Ezell said. “We didn’t want to be a niche player. We wanted to do all the work that we felt comfortable with. That has led to all these different avenues.”

As the industry added more and more wireless, SDT responded by adding the wireless division. The entry of the carriers into small cells and DAS is inevitable, according to Ezell. And so, it seems, is SDT’s entrance into the field.

“To meet the data demand, carriers have absolutely no choice but to use [small cell and DAS],” Ezell said. “They can’t get fiber to the home fast enough and they can’t build enough towers, and the carrier with the most bandwidth wins.”