Melinda White, the Chief Executive Officer of Transit Wireless, is making waves. CEO for 20 months, honored as a “Notable Woman in Tech” in Crain’s New York Business’ list last May, and overseeing an ambitious period of change and expansion, the head of this BAI Communications subsidiary is aiming at turning the New York City-award-winning company into a 5G and Smart Cities powerhouse.
An experienced telecom executive, White has operated fiber and copper networks across the country, most recently leading a $3 billion P&L with 7,000 employees. While some industry leaders thought she would have taken an opportunity that mirrored that experience, she looked for a customer-focused organization where she could make an impact and be on the leading edge of innovation.
“I joined Transit Wireless to lead a team and operation where I could see visible change,” said White. “When the opportunity presented itself, I evaluated where the business was going, what had been accomplished, and the competitive landscape. What I found was a committed team, who delivered a massive lift, under tight deadlines and ahead of schedule – to connect the underground stations of the NYC subway with a communications network. I decided this is where I wanted to be – on the forefront of innovative technologies in a City that will define ‘smart’ – and I haven’t looked back since.”
When White first joined the Company, she sat with employees to listen and learn. One of the concerns expressed from those conversations was that field techs faced tough environmental challenges but didn’t have the proper equipment.
“New York’s climate can be quite painful, and it has a very significant impact on our people working in the subway,” she said. “The winter environment is so challenging that I approved the purchase of heated jackets for our engineers and field techs. Being close to the employees allows me to hear their needs and address them quickly.” Additionally, White met customers and listened to experiences, future plans, concerns and opportunities.
In her short tenure, White has made quite the impact. From adding new talent and growing existing talent, to diversifying the portfolio and building strong partner relationships, she has set the foundation to turn this NYC-based Company into a serious player in 5G and Smart Cities.
Enabling Smarter Cities in the Emergence of 5G
Deloitte noted in a recent research report that tomorrow’s Smart Cities will be more connected, networked and collaborative. Although the focus of cities remains the same—creating livable environments where people and businesses can thrive—the ways to achieve that goal are evolving.
As the holder of a 27-year contract to design, build, and maintain the New York City subways Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and Wi-Fi network, Transit Wireless sits in a unique seat to help usher in Smart City technology during the dawn of 5G.
“The backbone of a Smart City is the fiber network,” said White. “Transit Wireless helps its partners build for the future of 5G and enables communities to become the Smart Cities of tomorrow. We are building smart solutions to advance operational efficiencies for transit authorities – creating ways to help realize cost-savings and increase rider satisfaction.”
Additionally, Transit Wireless is not simply preparing for 5G, they are an industry leader who builds future-proofed networks that are ready for 5G today.
“Our networks are built with the future in mind and we are ready to support our mobile network partners for the 5G rollout,” said White. “Across the five Boroughs, for example, we built five data centers which are the foundation for edge computing. While the data centers support cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to NYCT Subway riders, the value is just getting started. As IoT is deployed, Transit Wireless will be ready to facilitate the devices close to the consumer and enterprise customer.”
But don’t take her word for it, this is what end customers are looking for from their transit systems. In a recent survey from BAI Communications, commuters around the world said that the number-one requirement for a Smart City is good public transport, and the number-one expectation of public transport is continuous connectivity.
“Innovative transport systems are a defining feature of smart, world-class cities,” White said. “Commuters require continuous connectivity to realize the benefits of living in a Smart City. There are many IoT solutions that allow us to build toward the station and city of the future, including how our networks can enable IoT services such as preventative train maintenance schedules, facilities monitoring, security and safety systems, environmental monitoring and improved navigation.”
An Innovative Partner that Connects Communities
Part of the appeal of leading Transit Wireless is the inherent importance of the transportation sector and being a strong partner with transit organizations.
“The important role that Transit Wireless plays is that we are the connector. We are the communication network. And in any public transportation environment, if you don’t have a robust network to support the passenger, as well as the transit authority communication needs, it’s a tough climb to get other connected services deployed,” she explains. “The most important thing I do is ensure our transit partners understand who we are, what we do, and how we help them get to their desired outcome – connecting their communities, operations, and making the passenger experiences more enjoyable.”
As technology inexorably moves towards 5G and trends point toward a constantly interconnected world, the importance of a right partner becomes even more pronounced.
“A differentiator for us is our strong partnerships,” said White. “From the carriers, to transit operators, to city agencies, we are a proven strategic partner who listens, thinks ahead and delivers innovative solutions for their end customers. Additionally, being a BAI Communications Company allows us to be globally resourced, but still locally engaged in the markets we serve – positioning us in a unique seat to serve customers.”
White is also making waves in her personal life. A seasoned diver, she has explored locations across the globe.
“I’ve been diving all over the world. From shipwrecks, to cave diving,” said White. “The world undersea is so beautiful. You need to be paying attention to what you’re doing, but it can take all the pressures of the world off of you.”