Telecommunications is often associated with one primary responsibility: providing cell service for people to use their devices anywhere and everywhere. While that sounds straightforward, there are many layers behind telecommunications that make it anything but simple. Nick Berte, PE, Geographic Discipline Leader, embodies the innovation and versatility of experts in telecommunications, with over 23 years of experience working with major telecommunications carriers and governmental agencies. He has become very well-rounded throughout his career, with experience in project management, civil site design, construction inspection, and is responsible for growing the business while maintaining client relationships, as well as overseeing production and quality assurance.
Cell Service Anywhere and Everywhere
“We are covering everyone with cell service, no matter where you are.” – Nick Berte, PE
Providing cell service for all people, everywhere, requires a lot of telecommunications work behind the scenes. Every building you walk through, street you drive down, and so on needs to have access to service, creating an array of project sites. For Berte, this means project sites ranging from the Arlington National Cemetery, the Library of Congress, and Fort McHenry Tunnel to airports, stadiums, and even a secluded wetland. Being in the Washington Area, Berte was a part of many high-profile sites that each required innovative ways of thinking to find new solutions.
“No two sites are the same and no two days are the same. Wherever sites are needed, we come up with solutions. That’s what makes it so exciting, we are not just doing the same thing.” – Nick Berte, PE
Each and every project is unique with its own set of components that must be taken into consideration when designing a viable solution. One example is a project of Berte’s at the Rayburn House Office Building. For this project, the carrier wanted to significantly increase the number of antennas per sector on the building. Berte came up with his first design and submitted a set of drawings, but they were denied. Homeland Security had reasons why there needed to be adjustments. Berte took this into account and submitted a new design that was also denied. This time, the Capital Police had reasons they needed a redesign. The pattern of redesign continued as others became involved and gave their input, including the Architect of the Capital. Berte had to work around their requirements to create an innovative and unique design that worked for all parties involved to deliver optimized cell service.
“One thing I feel confident in is my ability to work on any kind of site, whether it is in a building, a field, or underground. I utilize all my different engineering skills that I have gained by having different challenges thrown at me for the last 23 years.” – Nick Berte, PE
There are also many different aspects of engineering involved in telecommunications projects, requiring a well-rounded skillset. For example, if antennas are being installed inside a building, there is a lot of equipment that comes along with it to run power to those antennas. This results in electrical designs to make sure the building’s system can handle that amount of power. Electrical equipment is also generally heavy, resulting in the need for a structural analysis to make sure the building can hold up the equipment. The equipment also gives off a lot of heat, meaning there needs to be an HVAC system including fire suppression added to where the equipment is being installed. All these components of telecommunications projects bring in aspects of civil, electrical, structural, and mechanical engineering, all of which Berte gained experience with throughout his career.
The Future of Telecommunications
The abilities of telecommunication technology are astonishing and are only continuing to develop. Telecommunications isn’t as simple as building a cell tower and never touching it again. A lot of towers are programmed to tilt to give the most amount of coverage to heavily populated areas as they shift. For example, towers along main highways are designed with RET (Remote Electrical Tilt) to electronically redirect the antenna. This allows it to adjust from north bound lanes to south bound lanes to follow the flow of traffic during busy times of the day. There is constant surveillance looking for patterns, such as people heading in and out of work. They can also be adjusted to areas that are having a lot of dropped calls or poor cell service. This optimizes the capacity of the cell tower, allowing the best possible cell service for those within its range.
Berte is confident there will be continued development as new technology makes way. He recognizes the improvements needed to the current 5G technology and believes 6G will be introduced to fix any current issues. In addition to fixing issues that are already existing, he sees the potential for new advancements including the ability for autonomous driving vehicles, tracking packages and delivery vehicles, and creating efficient GPS routes for delivery vehicles day to day. Berte will continue to hold an integral role in telecommunications and be a part of the new wave of technology it will bring about.