We had fun attending a recent meetup of the ComTech Forum last month. Held at Samsung America’s HQ in Mountain View, California, the event focused on wireless infrastructure and the changing landscape that will result from the rollout of 5G technologies. Topics ranged from beamforming, 5G architecture and key applications that it will enable, such as autonomous vehicles and IoT use cases. As you would expect, the audience included a mix of operators and vendors, all seeking to contribute to the emerging ecosystem.
It was a great opportunity to showcase our latest release, CROSS 3.0, and to demonstrate how its seamless, integrated data model allows operators to capture and leverage their entire inventory catalog. Of course, this includes wireless infrastructure, as well as virtual and physical assets. With 5G being based on virtual infrastructure and a massive increase in deployed physical resources in the RAN, the ability to correlate and orchestrate services across virtual and physical planes will be essential.
The meeting was short but packed with interactive discussions, highly-focused networking, and presentations from analysts, startups and established industry leaders. A particular highlight was the pitch session, during which a number of startups had an opportunity to present their solutions and innovations with rapid-fire 5-minute presentations, in the hope of creating interest and follow-up from the Silicon Valley communications community.
Because 5G is about so much more than mobile broadband, this attracted a diverse mix and demonstrated how important new innovators will be to the ultimate success of the new mobile model.
And that’s the thing. 5G is complicated but, for the first time, it brings the ability to offer multiple parallel services across wireless infrastructure. This is a critical difference between 4G and other generations of mobile tech. As a result, not only are there new demands on infrastructure (for which the ability to drive efficiency in business-critical OSS processes and to reduce costs will be essential), but there will be a step-change in the services that will emerge and drive revenue.
So, the ecosystem is going to grow, dramatically. While most macro networks will be built by operators, there will also be many micro networks that offer highly localized capabilities. These will also need to be coordinated, so the task of inventory management will be fundamental to the success of all ecosystem providers. Network slicing reinforces this problem, as different providers will need to coordinate their efforts.
ComTech Forum is a great place to network but it’s also an excellent opportunity to take the pulse and to identify challenges and opportunities for the future. Just as networks will require close collaboration from multiple stakeholders, some of which are new to the wireless domain, so such events serve to bring the industry together to chart the right path to ensure 5G is a success – and that it delivers beyond the hype.