While MWCA includes a showcase of the bleeding edge of very visible technology and its accompanying players, if one looks past the glitz and glory of the show, there are some real gems, at this edge.
Frankly, I have 5G coming out of my ears. Not that I am not fascinated by it, but so much of the 5G in the keynotes and some of the other sessions is redundant. Change around a few terms and topics and they all were pretty much the same.
There was plenty of “5G is here” diatribe. Yet, when I spoke with people in the trenches, i.e. the smaller players, edge-of-the-envelope and under-the-radar players, they all laughed with me when I would say 5G is here. However, use cases are beginning to emerge and some were visible at this year’s event. That is encouraging but any deployments are still in the alpha and beta stages.
Do I sound a bit jaded? Perhaps, but the fact is that 5G is happening, not has happened. We all know that it is a disruptive, ground-breaking, revolutionary, trailblazing and another half-dozen superlatives technology. It has been over-hyped by the big players who have the public relations moxie and resources to champion it. As well, periodicals such as the Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-5g-race-china-and-u-s-battle-to-control-worlds-fastest-wireless-internet-1536516373), the New York Times, as well as MSNBC, CNN, and a whole host of non-technical media outlets that do “revolver” journalism (as my father used to call it) to attract eyeballs. Unlike our industry media, these organizations have a limited, if any, staff that understands technology, in general, and wireless, particularly. Thusly, they put out a ton of non-technical superficial, often skewed, even incorrect data about 5G.
Still, 5G was, no doubt, the most visible topic on everybody’s lips. However, on a high level, MWC, and its premier players is, and are, well covered by the 300 journalists in attendance so I am not going add my hat to that ring. What I want to talk about are the companies that are, often, under the hype radar that will make 5G work. I am on the go from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM some nights. Back to back meeting with tons of interesting companies. Here are some that left impressions.
I had chats with companies such as Taoglas, Wilson, Mocana, FRtek, Kore, Commscope, and many more. These are the people who will enable such hype as “Verizon’s ultrafast 5G home internet service” slated to roll out October 1. This is a 5G use case because it claims to offer download speeds 10 times as fast as the US average. However, I have been able to order fiber-based Gigabit Internet for some time already so I do not really understand all the hype around this.
However, that is not what I want to talk about, there is so much noteworthy information I had garnered from this show that revolved around the components, solutions, apps, and elements that will be part of 5G. It is not just about fixed and mobile wireless. It is about the cloud, security, edge computing, big data, the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX), NFV, SDN, smart “X,” autonomous vehicles, spectrum – unlicensed, as well as licensed, content, security, XaaS, and emerging tech just to name a few.
To make all of these happen, there is a deep and wide secondary market that, rarely, gets much glory. Yet without it, there will be no 5G. The big players; carriers and OEMs, such as Ericsson have a lot of top-level technology, yet they lean on so many diverse suppliers.
Take, for example, a company called Taoglas Wireless. Under the radar, yes, but big in the antenna space, particularly MIMO, which is a critical element to the success of 5G and other technologies. Taoglas provides advanced antenna and RF solutions from LTE to Wi-Fi, ISM, UWB, GNSS, DSRC, NFC, and 5G.
Then there is KORE, a provider of secure managed IoT networks, application enablement and location-based services. These are components critical not only to 5G but to many of the tangential segments, I mentioned above, that 5G will empower.
Next comes Mocana. This company is in the most important segment of wireless — security. And, not just your everyday security but the next generation, way beyond AES, to quantum cryptography. These people are definitely on the edge.
Another exciting company is Virtusa. This is a very interesting company. Very well stocked with IP to create specific solutions for many different segments. For the telecom space, they can leverage hardware, software, apps, whatever, to create a managed solution – very impressive.
These companies are just the tip of the iceberg. I also love to meet with organizations such as 5G Americas, the CBRS Alliance, the Multefire Alliance and more. These folks are so well connected and knowledgeable with a finger on the pulse of the industry.
Do not get me wrong, I also chatted with the Verizons, Ericssons and Sprints etc. However, they tend to be more about company visibility than technology, which is where my head is. There are plenty of journalists to cover them and most of the coverage overlaps.
Moving on to the sessions. As always, some are excellent, others not so much. I generally do not have the bandwidth to attend sessions, but I poke my head in for a few minutes from time to time. This time I was captivated by the GSMA Future Networks Session “5G – Beyond Mobile Broadband” and I stayed for it. This session’s speakers did a fabulous job of looking at the technologies that 5G, and beyond, will require, such as network slicing and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC). This was good stuff for a geek and to a packed room as well.
Anyway, that about wraps up what I have the space to work with. I could write thousands of words on the “under the radar” stuff I had the opportunity to get data on. If you want more of this, ping me and I will expand on it. In the meantime, keep on 5G-ing!