Analyzing all the best tech conferences and meetings helped us throw a great 5G party
The tables were turned on this well-documented “5G Symposium Critic” last month. This began last spring, when I am sure I visibly flinched when our group president said, “Let’s have a 5G Summit!”
Despite the risks of having YA5GE (Yet Another 5G Event), I was fortunate to host a very successful inaugural Keysight 5G Tech Connect event in which we drew on the best practices of the industry, and inserted a few of our own novel ideas.
This post is a tribute to events and speakers who inspired us to throw an excellent technical party. We drew on many best practices, and here are just a few that are noteworthy:
Bookend With Charisma and Competence
(Inspiration: 5G North American Workshop, hosted by Ericsson and Qualcomm, San Jose, Summer 2016)
Innovation happens when the unconstrained mind confronts the over-constrained problem. Making 5G real will require significant innovation and the keynote speakers highlighted innovative thinking. Maryam Rofougaran, co-founder of Movandi, opened the pre-event dinner with a description of how her organizations managed these processes through unprecedented mixed-signal IC integration in a previous role at Innovent, later with Broadcom, and now new phased-array antenna technology for 5G.
Peter Rabbeni of Global Foundries further underscored the potential of silicon technologies, even in our new millimeter-wave (mmW) world, during his opening Keynote the next morning. And Dr. Mischa Dohler of Kings College London, closed the event with an optimistic and energetic talk on the inevitability of 5G combined, enabled, and driven by profound changes coming to networks—changes that will disrupt that business so it will ultimately not look at all like it does today.
(Inspiration: IWPC, pretty much any event Tom Watson and team do)
Recall my criticism of overtly or thinly veiled commercial presentations. 5G Tech Connect avoided this by focusing not just on technology, but on technology for measurement. Professor Gabriel Rebeiz (UCSD), Dr. YiHong Qi (GTS), and Emil Olbrich (Signals Research) introduced and led discussions on phased-array antennas, over-the-air measurement, and 5G NR device validation, respectively.
Notwithstanding a few pleasant (and unsolicited) plugs for Keysight by Gabriel and YiHong, the discussions remained focused on key challenges in the technology. Here are some of my insights:
- Reinforcement of my prediction of mobile commercial mmWave coming only after 2022;
- Renewed confidence in silicon technologies making headway in 5G mmWave;
- The inevitability of the uncomfortable marriage of licensed and unlicensed spectrum—starting in Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), but moving full-force in 5G.
Others reached additional insights, which means there was technical fodder for all involved.
Provide Fascinating Toys for Engineers to Play With
(Inspiration: Brooklyn 5G Summit, 2017)
One cannot host a proper 5G event without the “show floor/demo room.” It is on this real estate that the “overt commercial” behavior often becomes crushing. So, we adopted three rules:
- Keep our demonstrations constrained to very newly released and cutting-edge technology, or even capabilities that have yet to see commercial exposure;
- Only have our deepest technical experts available to discuss these technologies;
- No lead sheets within 50 miles of the venue. We ran the risk of tipping our hand too soon on some of this capability, but the animated discussions in the crowded demo room were evidence that this recipe worked.
I walked away from that initial discussion on hosting a “5G Summit” with a feeling of dread. Those of you who have managed such things know the work involved—the planning, finding participants and speakers, last-minute changes, panic, elation, terror, and anger. And finally, relief— relief followed by pride in managing a good use of time for all involved. But pride has again been unseated by dread. We had not yet opened the post-event cocktail bar when the group president shook my hand, thanked me for an excellent experience, and said, “Let’s do one of these in Asia!”
Here are a few video segments from the Keysight Tech Connect event.