As technology lines blur, so industry alliances come closer together
Our latest blog reports back from the WBA Wi-Fi Global Congress in San Jose, October 2015.
Heterogeneous networking does not just drive multiple technologies to work together in harmony. It also demands the same from industry organizations – groups which once worked mainly in their own corners are now addressing common issues, and that is breeding a new spirit of cooperation.
This was clear at the Wi-Fi Global Congress in the heart of Silicon Valley last week. This is the landmark conference of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), which would once have had little overlap with Small Cell Forum. But some of the key themes of the event in San Jose were concerns shared by the Forum, which should breed future collaboration.
Small Cell Forum has a rising number of cooperations with other industry bodies as its technology becomes relevant to every aspect of wireless deployment. Once, the Forum focused mainly on licensed spectrum solutions while the WBA was exclusively interested in licence-exempt Wi-Fi. But now, two of the six work items which underpin the Forum’s new program are directly reflected in the WBA’s own work plan.
It already has a joint project with the WBA focused on license-exempt spectrum, under its work item in this area, and many of the sessions at the conference were spectrum related, demonstrating clearly how the lines between licensed and unlicensed technologies are blurring – and with them, the lines between different industry alliances.
The Forum has another item on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the road to 5G. Those concerns are echoed in the WBA’s Vision 2020 statement, which defines the IoT, connected cities, big data and converged services as the chief business opportunities for wireless in the run-up to 2020.
The issues of spectrum and of the IoT were discussed by service providers of many kinds at the event, from city IT directors to venue operators to established wireless ISPs. There were different viewpoints on controversial topics like LTE in unlicensed bands, but overall speakers and attendees were calling for coexistence and looking ahead to dynamic spectrum access.
For instance, the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance and the WBA announced a joint development in TV white spaces, geared to smart city and rural access. In future, it is clear that such networks may be working closely with licensed band small cells to optimize the capacity and coverage available to support a wide range of city, rural and IoT applications.
The wireless services platform is becoming extremely broad, creating many new business opportunities, but there are too many for a single industry alliance to target. As the WBA event clearly showed, cooperation will be the name of the game on the road to 5G.