Recently, I went to the McCormick Center in Chicago to attend 4G World 2012 with several of my co-workers and thousands of others in telecommunications roles such as suppliers, inventors, innovators, carriers, and service providers. I even met with some press and analysts while I was there including this recorded Google Hangout with RCR Wireless. Though the tragic devastation of Hurricane Sandy reduced the volume of attendees, those who could get there learned, networked, discussed, and shared with each other issues, opportunities, and future visions of the wireless communications industry.
So what was Dell OEM doing at 4G World?
Dell OEM Solutions had a relaxed, fun, open format booth area which more resembled a lounge area with plenty of comfortable seating, snacks replenished hourly, phone chargers and AC outlets to keep everyone’s devices running during the Expo. In addition to the networking, Exposition and interviews, there were some great speaking sessions and panels. In those we learned about trends, issues, pains, and concerns of the leaders of the industry. Policy, spectrum limits, legacy users, old business models and high user expectations are pressuring carriers and service providers to find ways to get greater returns on investments and to shorter the time it takes to realize those returns.
Hot Topics at 4G World
One important new tool in this fight, as echoed throughout 4G World attendees, was IMS, or IP Multimedia Subsystem. With the advent of LTE, a purely IP data communications technology, moving users to VOIP, or Voice over LTE, is critical to freeing up spectrum, simplifying networks and reducing the number of unique networks expected to communicate with each other. It also has the benefit of making any IP connection, including public or private Wi-Fi, a potential extension to the wireless network for smartphones. This could drastically reduce the load on the 3G, 4G and 4G LTE networks while improving the performance and reliability for users.
In addition to IMS, Small Cells (and Pico, Nano, and Femto-Cells) are still considered good options for reducing loads in extremely congested areas, where LTE tower coverage is obstructed, or for large events, such my beloved SXSW festival in Austin each Spring when crowded attendees are often more shocked when they get a signal than they are angry that they cannot get a signal. By offering areas where traffic is off-loaded to small cells, the rest of the network is freed up and fewer towers could be needed in denser population areas.
Also of interest was the converged (cloud) infrastructure for wireless signaling, BSS, OSS, and other services all running on cloud architectures rather than stand-alone hardware systems. Many of us speculated about the massive performance increase in COTS systems which could lead to significant reduction in the CAPEX and OPEX for the hardware running the networks and traffic. And, my favorite, I has several conversations about virtualizing the entire network on x86 hardware and doing away with the expensive, inefficient proprietary DSPs, FPGAs, and other switching silicon platforms which were necessary until very recently.
Commitment to the Telecom Industry
This year’s 4G World was very enjoyable and educational. I look forward to several future events & seeing many of you again. If you didn’t get a chance to talk to us at 4G World, here is another video where I go into more detail on Dell’s involved in the Telecom space.