I have spent the last couple of days at Competitive Carriers Association Mobile Carriers conference at the new, Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center, outside of Denver where the event was held this week.
I am finding myself getting much more out of the smaller shows. MWC, CES and like-sized shows are great for walking around and attending some sessions. However, working them just is not practical. Conferences such as the Mobile Carriers show are much more intimate and a chance to, really, see what is going on.
That being said, there were some great programs, great exhibitors and I got a chance to get up front and personal. I was especially impressed by the Women in Wireless Keynote lunch. Great panelists!
In this missive, I will not do a play by play of the show. There are plenty of others that take care of that. I talk about what I garnered and how it translates into where the industry is going and what the implications are of what I observe. It also is a chance to get various perspectives from all sides of the industry.
One thing I always find interesting is seeing who is doing what. By that, I mean what companies are doing to stay on the edge of technology and to expand the business model to keep their momentum going. This is becoming a regular, if not common, thread across specialized industries as they try to sort out vertical opportunities in the wireless, particularly 5G, ecosystem. I saw this at the Smart City conference, as well.
Another thing I like to talk about is the creativity of emerging or small companies. For example – Centerline Solutions. They are a long-time, traditional tower infrastructure player. Like many companies that have been comfortable and profitable in a well-established segment of the wireless space. They came to this convention to sniff the air and see what is happening. Also, to get some ideas on how to leverage their infrastructure experience into new wireless spaces, as well as get a glimpse of the future.
As is the case with most shows there are new faces. Many are startups or niche players that are looking to some of the emerging technologies and platforms. Take O-RAN for example. There is a lot of movement in that platform because 5G will fare much better with open standards and hardware. A company called Parallel Wireless has developed a software platform, creatively called All-G. It brings native 5G architecture to service providers that is capable of integrating all the generations of cellular and upgrading lower generations to near 5G performance – all while being fully 3GPP standard-compliant.
I also caught a glimpse of a couple of case vendors – shades of CTIA! When I spoke with them, I did not get the answers I was expecting. One of them, Scooch, was developing cases for 5G. Why is that different from the millions other cases? Well, it turns out that some cases, due to its many enhanced features of 5G, cases can actually interfere with some of them. So they are designing cases to be “5G friendly” (and functional) – interesting.
I also had a lengthy chat with a senior VP of Huawei. Contrary to popular belief, she did not have horns! The VP carried herself with poise and dignity, was very well spoken, knowledgeable, humble, professional, and…nice!
I have worked with Chinese companies in the past. There are certainly challenges, especially with quality control. However, companies like Huawei, and the other large electronic manufacturers that I have known in the past, are professional. They know how to work with global players and simply leverage what they can to come out with the best possible deal. If one wants to talk about spying, look to the Russians. Yet, the president of the United States is all in denial over that one. Oh, and was it not the United States that was busted, spying on Germany, a few years back? It has a long history of spying on both friend and foe.
I have come down hard on the Trump Administration, because, so far, not one shred of evidence has been uncovered that points to deliberate sabotage or spying. All of this is fabricated by the administration. At worst, Huawei is guilty of some sloppy security control!
Fortunately, the cooler heads that lead other first-world countries have prevailed. Unfortunately, our current administration has shot our 5G development in the foot. Huawei will do quite well without us and the rest of the world will march ahead of us in 5G deployment. Although, now, this administration has, as usual, skirted the issues and moved on.
The time has come to stop this nonsense. Huawei provides top quality hardware. They did not get there by slipping compromised chips into it. Our hardware vendors will do well to continue the relationship with them.
Strangely enough, I had a conversation with a vendor around this. His comment was that we enabled it. We wanted cheap hardware and they provided it. We were lax in our implementation of security. They only supplied what we asked for.
In the end, to succeed at 5G will require worldwide cooperation among countries and companies. 5G is a global platform. No single country is going to dictate what it will be.
It was a fun couple of days. Thanks, CCA for letting me come and play.