TIA’s Network of the Future Underscores Cross-Industry Cooperation as Key Factor to Accelerating Connectivity

Recap of this year’s keynotes, panel discussions and presentations

Earlier this month TIA was thrilled to host its membership and the leaders who compete and drive a more than 6 trillion-dollar global ICT industry in Plano, Texas to discuss the future of connectivity. Co-located with the AT&T Supplier Summit, the Network of the Future 2018 centered on the essential infrastructure foundations for accelerating connectivity across all markets.

From 5G deployments to efforts to further secure and densify the network, to increasing sustainability throughout the supply chain; As our connected ecosystem grows, the more vital the foundational core of the network is to advancing connectivity across every industry and market.

During the event, TIA CEO Wes Johnston shared with attendees the expanding footprint of the association where community is at the center of connectivity, and how value is being created not just for companies in the communications infrastructure sector, but across all industries.

Within TIA’s four communities of Technology, Standards, Government Affairs and Business Performance, the association is convening the thought leaders and architects driving connectivity solutions around the globe to solve unique challenges and develop new ideas and business models for a purpose-built, application-based network and evolving communications ecosystem.

Below we’ve compiled the key points and themes conference speakers emphasized throughout the two-day event, with particular focus on the importance and necessity of cross-sector partnerships and collaboration to accelerate global connectivity. Click here for videos from the Network of the Future 2018 and be on the lookout for information coming soon about TIA’s Network of the Future 2019.


There’s a Transformation Underway

AT&T’s Shiraz Hasan Keynote Address on the Internet of Things

  • IoT is giving our industry the ability to transform businesses by building new revenue streams that have never been possible by refining our businesses and providing insight on data we’ve never had access to before.
  • Some numbers to keep mind: 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020 including 10 million driverless cars.
  • Developing for IoT seems difficult, but it’s changing the mindset by being familiar with use cases and understanding how to utilize the data that will be the biggest hurdle for the ICT industry.
  • The approach is to: (1) Have the ability to sense an event that happened (2) Analyze the data that is being generated and (3) Get that data into the hands of those that can take action regardless of the environment.
    • This requires a partner-centric approach including hardware solution providers, cloud integrators and solution integrators providing the security, data analytics, and visualization needed for success.

Verizon’s Sankaran “Ram” Ramanathan Keynote Address on Unwrapping Network Automation

  • IoT segues perfectly into intelligence. Verizon’s Executive Director for Network Systems Ram asked, why is there so much talk about intelligence and why is now the right time to talk about it? It is because the data is available, the high-speed computers can compute and the connectivity continues to get better.
  • How do we enable the intelligence? We need collaboration to achieve scale and speed.
  • The technology will rapidly change, but the use case is key. One size does not fit all, and we must always consider the use case you are trying to address.
  • The biggest challenge we have as intelligence competes between us and the machines, is “what happens to me?” The key is the culture and the mindset and how we consider the next generation.



Identifying Solutions to Advance Network Infrastructure and Accelerate Connectivity

Executive Panel: Network of the Future: Infrastructure, Technologies, and Applications

  • TIA’s CEO Wes Johnston opened the panel with data representing the increased growth in market. The panelists then spent most of the hour addressing the opportunities and challenges that growth will bring to the ICT industry.
  • Chief Quality Officer for Nokia Deepti Aoroa made the point that besides the challenges including quality, security and economics that 5G will bring, there are many opportunities including, but not limited to: cloud based platforms that will give us the ability to scale and be more elastic than we’ve ever been before; network slicing that will give us more time to work on use cases; and machine learning capabilities that will give us the ability to predict and prevent.
  • Rod Naphan, Fujitsu’s Chief Technology Officer encouraged the “big and little companies” to collaborate and reminded the audience that we can’t yet predict or even imagine what all the services we will have with the launch of 5G, so there needs to be multiple use cases.
  • When it comes to the economics of growth, former AT&T Chief Technology Officer Krish Prabhu made the point that he expects a round of mergers and consolidations that will create a new ecosystem of players that provides for a new business model for leaders to  explore.
  • Parthiban Kandappan, Senior VP and Head of Architecture at Infinera added that a lot of companies are looking for someone else to innovate. Many companies have consolidated and the vendors sit in the middle. The challenge is and will continue to be, how do you make money?

Densification: Aligning Technology and Policy with Market Opportunity

Lead by TIA’s Senior Counsel and Director of Government Affairs Dileep Srihari, this general session centered around the four keys to densification in a 5G architecture: (1) Spectrum efficiency (2) Components and technology (3) Physical footprint and (4) Regulations and standards.

  • Ten years ago, it was all about coverage. Do you have your five bars? That was then. Now, we are running out of capacity. The question is how do we have coverage and capacity? There are three things you can do to add capacity:
    • Spectrum (which is controlled by physics and the government)
    • Technology (5G and more, but it needs to be standardized)
    • Densification (We need to re-use the available spectrum)
  • 5G is complex. Panelist agreed industry should be focusing on the use cases of mobility, last mile access, and latency. The common theme throughout the discussion was you need to “get closer to the customer.”

Aesthetics is important in densifying networks. It requires collaboration from the municipalities and the companies providing the infrastructure up front in the planning and permitting process.

Securing the Networks of the Future: Enhancing Cyber and Physical Security

The future is more connected, both through the expansion of the network and the proliferation of the internet of things. As 5G connectivity rolls-out there will also be an explosion of network nodes. Edge data centers in buildings or at the base of light poles and other decentralized network devices will need securing. The entry points for cyber-attacks and other security vulnerabilities demand a robust cyber and physical security response. Led by TIA NOW’s Clarence Reynolds, industry experts on this panel discussed who will be responsible for providing that security, and how we begin to build those layers of protection now.

  • Malware attacks follow the money. While ransomware attacks have decreased, cryptocurrency attacks have increased.
  • One of the keys to cybersecurity is balancing privacy and security which don’t always line up.
  • With IoT devices proliferating, those are also being used to create attacks. We shouldn’t be ignoring the devices themselves as they are being used to infect the network.
  • A threat can be academic or theoretical. It becomes a risk when it starts to be demonstrated in the wild. The problem is that a lot of the threats that then become risks are not being reported publicly or among the companies, so we don’t know what’s exactly happening so we treat everything as theoretical.


Powering 5G Networks

The 5G enabled future, when seen in the aggregate, will require us to think differently about associated infrastructure, especially the power grid. Speakers discussed if the energy infrastructure needed to power the next generation of communications infrastructure in place today and who will pay for the energy consumption. Additionally, what business models are in place now and what new ones will develop to ensure energy does not constrain the 5G future.

  • One of the biggest challenges facing 5G is having the power to provide energy to all the places they need in underserved or unserved areas like national parks and rural areas. Jimmy Taylor, President of TelTech, said the best way to provide power in these areas is solar.
  • Though Mike Burkhalter of Alpha Technologies said there are issues of longitude and latitude of locations. It will take a mix of technologies to get enough power to all areas.
  • Panasonic’s director of wireless strategy Mary Beth Hall shared that her division at Panasonic is focusing on B2B devices and solutions and partnering with companies to research use cases where solar power and battery power are combined with data analytics to monitor energy solutions.
  • In restoring historic buildings with “power” in mind, owner of Sinclair Holdings Farukh Aslam relayed the biggest challenge for architects is bringing the generators in the building and the noise that those generate and the exhaust they produce. His company is working to make it so generators are not necessary by using digital electricity, POE and implementing a modern IoT architecture.


Quality Assurance, Business Performance, and Sustainability Best Practices

Day one of Network of the Future ended with a presentation from TIA’s Senior Vice President of Standards and Technology, Ken Koffman to highlight the quality assurance work done by TIA.

  • Koffman walked the audience through the suite of products and services that benchmark quality and sustainability in the supply chain.
  • Sustainability Manger of Superior Essex, Annie Bevan, presented on what sustainability efforts can do to increase value to a company. She said, it’s Wall Street and the financial institutions that are asking what the sustainability plan is because they think it is a risk if there is no plan.


Short Takes | Big Ideas

To kick-off day two of the conference, the program featured short takes from three dynamic speakers who launched into a dialogue on the industry’s most exciting topics.

  • Buddy Teaster spoke about using corporate social responsibility and micro-enterprise to create real economic change. His company, Soles4Souls creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.
    • Teaster advocated for the multi-prong approach of not just donating time and money, but providing the resources to create entrepreneurs and disrupt the cycle of poverty.
  • General Motors Director for Advanced Development and Concepts Steve Schwinke led a captive audience through the interdependence of 5G and intelligent transportation; focusing on the advancements made and those on the horizon when it comes to the connected car.
    • Schwinke shared GM’s four pillars they believe will advance us towards a safer, more mobile and more sustainable future – Connectivity, Electrification, Sharing and Autonomous.
    • He also empathized that we need a quality network with ubiquitous coverage giving rise to new autonomous solutions with the “Goal of Zero:” zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion.
  • Hans Jurgen Schmolke, CEO of Metrinomics spoke about the value of quality and measuring customer experience with the idea that you can predict business churn without even knowing the product if you understand the business relationship.
    • The most important thing when you deal with the customer experience is to give the customer a place in the day to day life of the organization.
    • That means not only getting feedback from customers, but making sure to respond and act on that feedback, therefore “closing the loop.”


Smart Buildings Lay the Foundation for Smart Communities

Smart buildings are the building blocks that will enable society’s digital transformation, generating a scalable foundation for creating the elusive smart city, building by building, from the ground up. Closing out this year’s Network of the Future was a new issue area where foundational connectivity technologies have launched an entirely new vertical market segment: the smart building. TIA’s newly launched Smart Buildings Program is all about connectivity, interoperability, communications and capacity and this session tackled just that.

  • When asked how a smart building is defined, the five panelists had five unique perspectives, but they all agreed that a smart building is a safe building and that you can’t call yourself a safe building unless the safety of your inhabitants is paramount.
  • Networking is the backbone and the most critical aspect of a smart building, but close behind is lighting. Lighting is everywhere and it’s controllable with the best ROI in terms of using sensors.
  • Also critical is the interoperability between business systems and IT systems. It is advisable to find commonality that all these systems share, so that those commons points can become standards for all infrastructure.
  • Overall speakers stressed that collaboration and participation in working groups and committees is the lifeblood of moving things forward in this vertical. Those working in the smart building space need to become evangelists around being able to articulate the value that can be derived from acting and the inefficiencies and greater costs associated with not acting.