CW Solutions' commitment to improving wireless access in New Jersey can be traced to Sept. 11.
With network capabilities at ground zero decimated, providers scrambled to restore communication services. Stacie Curtis and Robert Weible, then working as consultants for the wireless industry, teamed with Verizon Wireless to install equipment atop a Hudson Street building in Jersey City, establishing a direct line to lower Manhattan.
The tragedy made it clear that a more thorough and resilient infrastructure was badly needed. That spurred Curtis and Weible to form CW Solutions in 2002. And the explosion in mobile devices means providers are looking at partners like CW more than ever.
CW Solutions serves as a resource for telecommunications and utility industries looking to modify or expand their networks, assisting with site acquisition, and providing right-of-way, project management and related services. By extension, it deploys its expertise in local zoning laws to make it easier for clients to obtain municipal approvals.
The firm lobbied in 2011 for legislation that, under certain circumstances, exempts clients from site plan review. That's helped streamline a process that CW's founders say can otherwise take up to a year.
“We're trying to make it easier for the client to upgrade service, but also make it easier for the board,” said Weible, a real estate attorney with zoning and site acquisition experience. “They might have a 7-Eleven coming in, or more important things on their agenda than someone just adding a dish to an existing tower.”
Since the legislation was passed, Metro PCS was able to upgrade 60 existing sites in eight municipalities by obtaining permits directly from local officials, rather than going before each town's land-use boards for a site plan review.
Veterans in the wireless industry appreciate the faster efficient route.
Michael Saperstein, previously a director of governmental affairs for PCIA, a national trade association representing wireless companies, said that effort is required more so in a state like New Jersey, with geographically small municipalities that take pride in home rule.
“New Jersey has its own unique challenges with so many different townships as opposed to some places with a more centralized government, like at the county level,” said Saperstein, now an executive Frontier Communications, a Stamford, Conn., telecommunication company.
Educating clients about the law is a work in progress, Curtis said.
“A lot of them are not fully aware of the legislation,” she said. “We're explaining: Here is how it can help you. Here's how it can streamline. There's still a lot of education going on.”
CW Solutions also has a utilities focus, which is new. Weible said a downturn in business after the recession forced the company to diversify its revenue stream, which is projected to surpass $1 million in 2013.
Given upgrades planned by utilities, ranging from installing new electric transmission lines to natural gas pipelines, the company expects to stay busy.
Roger Trudeau, lead real estate representative for PSE&G's corporate properties division, said CW is helping the utility complete two ongoing construction jobs aimed at expanding electric capacity in New Jersey.
CW Solutions has helped PSE&G with title services, easements, rights of way and other municipal consents needed to move projects on schedule, Trudeau said.
“CW people come in with a lot of experience; their learning curve is short,” Trudeau said. “They're kind of one of us — they just get paycheck from a different company.”
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