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Making Mobile Faster than Fixed Line


4 min read

Cole Crawford, Founder & CEO, Vapor IO, and
Chaitali Sengupta, Consultant, Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies

Moderator: Michelle Zatlyn, Co-Founder & COO, Cloudflare

CC: moved between private and public sector.

CS: her company added 100 million customers in India.

MZ: Let’s start with where we are today: trends or things you’re seeing in the marketplace that weren’t there 5 years ago.

CC: What’s interesting is combination of data mass and data velocity, resulting in a more dynamic internet. E.g. Latency wasn’t mentioned by customers at first; AI is helping to create a new low-latency internet.

CS: One of the biggest things is applying lessons of cloud to telecom to see how we can make systems more centralized and virtualized. Network function virtualization; putting things on general service servers. Now dovetailing into 5G, where we see more bandwidth.

MZ: We’re currently in 4G world; when will 5G standard get finalized?

CS: Standards are getting finalized; trials are getting started. Many 5G systems are up and running NWC America ... is running trials already. I would say end of next year or 2019

MZ: So the future is here and it’s almost distributed? 4G took 2 years to roll out. Will it take another 2 years?

CC: It won’t. T-Mobile announced last week that what once took 24 months will now take 6 months.

MZ: Why a fraction of the time?

CC: New technologies. For all of the “nervous system” of AI, we also have to take care of heartbeat / “cardiovascular” Consider Facebook, who has bay stations now; they can save billions of dollars by innovating. Companies don’t want to be out-innovated.

CS: There is an Industry-wide understanding on need to do more automation, in the last 5 years. This is making things simpler.

MZ: So competition is helping drive innovation. Let’s talk about the data center technologies;

What’s on the horizon for bay stations?

CS: Bay station is everything that stands between your device and the information it is trying to access or send. As that system has become more complex, it has become desegregated. Now you have something at the tower, and something in a more centralized location. This trend is continuing. The trend is for all of that to become more centralized.

We need to be pragmatic; we can’t just keep everything on the cloud.

So it’s an engineering optimization problem. And it’s really breaking the bay station apart.

CC: So what is a bay station: a motherboard, a radio, and antenna and an network interface card. we are seeing decentralization of these functions.
The edge will not end the cloud; it will augment cloud. The true edge is the radio access network, the meeting point between wireless and wire lines. Analogy with airline industry. That connection is material. The bay station will allow a massive virtualization. The computer sitting at the top of the tower will move down to the base and be virtualized; we will end up in a decentralized world with a metro area network that is for more geographically localized.

MZ: So, also lots of opportunity for innovation. What other innovations are you seeing?

CC: A lot of innovation led by telcos. The idea is to make an intelligent relationship that can be monetized.
Serverless functions will be married to network functions.
The FCC and net neutrality is the best thing that could happen. This is good for business. A lot of innovation is happening in terms of moving to intelligent connection.

CS: I see a lot of innovation down to SOC level.
Machine learning will become a way of doing things, along with general purpose processors.

MZ: Let’s go back to what you said about data and how that is driving things. Give us the context: How is data increasing exponentially and what does that mean?

CC: We’ve been promised a cool virtual world; can machines make moral decisions
On the technological side, you can’t defeat the speed of light. E.g. The human an eye can see 150 degrees vertically and 180 horizontally. 5.4 gigs of data a second.

To deliver a truly augmented reality experience, you need a very different type of internet than what we have today. You need a sub 7 millisecond decision.

There are technological boundaries we are trying to overcome; but it means a fundamental re-architecture of what we have today.

MZ: So more decentralization?

CC: You have to be closer to the radio access network. As you move across the city, you move to another tower to get your cell signal back. The amount of data velocity and proximity is far more dynamic than what we experience today.

MZ: How has regulation driven development; and what is on the horizon from a regulation standpoint?

CS: Regulations are separate from market and tech forces, but it is also geography-specific because of different interests. So one example in India is the question of user identity. In India, the social security system is in progress. So your mobile number becomes your de-facto identity. User identity is geography-specific.

CC: “if you can legally circumvent regulation, do it. It’s hard to follow the rules when the rules move so slowly.” Companies like Facebook are investing in bay stations
In the IOT world: all of these things get terminated in bay stations. Some municipalities move faster than others. This is less federal than municipal movement.

Or, another way to think about it, “state trumps federal.”


Q: I live in the flatlands of Palo Alto and I can’t get service. How do we ensure service is reliable when moving from cell to cell?

CC: Small-cell 5G innovation will happen soon, one of de facto standards being built in. What carrier you are on and how they are investing in small-cell tech will affect that.

CS: Also the tracking of where are dark areas?

Q: We’re in a monopoly of operating systems, and the consumer has no choice to be outside of Ios or android. Will there be more consumer choice in the future? So consumer metadata is not tied to one of 2 companies.

CC: Arthur C. Clark said if what I say seems reasonable to you then I will have failed; but if what I say sounds unreasonable then we may have an understanding of what the future will be built for.
We’re not far away from

Humans are terrible at the future value propositions of tech; but certainly people are thinking about how to prevent lock-in.

CS: In India, idea to have 4G phone where you don’t need. In some markets, you don’t need to have everything on your phone all the time. That leads to new ecosystems and new ways of thinking.

Q: Can you segue your metadata from Apple and Google?

CC: Look how long it took Android to catch up to app developer ecosystem. Developers are where gravity happens.

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