Friday, September 11, 2015

CTIA 2015: Ericsson's LAA LTE, Screaming Fast PTP Microwave, and Wireless Speakers.

The second day at any show is always better than the first. You have your bearings, you've seen a few people, you hear some buzz, and you know what to look for.

I would say that I am a tradeshow junkie. I  love these things. From a business perspective, a personal perspective, and now from the perspective of trying to figure out how to write-up what I experienced, I have a good time at these events.

Here are some of the things I saw this year that made an impact with me.

Roxtec



Anyone who has ever worked in the field in our industry has likely seen this product: Cable entry solutions that can be custom fit to just about any penetration and provide 4 bar water pressure protection. They're blue, the stand out, they work REALLY well, and most importantly they are really inexpensive.




I got  a walk-through of the products a handful of samples, and brainstormed with the team about some fantastic use cases:, mainly fitting around retrofitting existing cable penetrations.



Here's a scenario:
There are more than a few customers who's installer didn't have the foresight to recognize that the hole they jackhammered through the wall may be used in the future for something else, so they end up just polyurethaning the whole thing. By the time you come around, there aren't too many options to run your cable through that hole without having to push out all that GreatStuff, run your cable, and re-plug the hole, leaving the person behind you in the same situation. With this product, you punch out that dirty filling, provide a cleaner passage for the existing cable without having to cut/break it and provide future expansion. For something around $30 for a traditional circular penetration. Super cool

SIAE Microelecttronica

2 Gbps across licensed 11 GHz in an 80 MHz channel, blasting 4096 QAM, through a single PoE-fed all-outdoor unit with 2 GigE ports, 2 SFP ports, an option for AC power, that is cost-competitive, targeted at dominating the industry, and backed by a team of industry veterans. The ALFOplus2.



That's what I walked into at the Siae booth. And obvsly, the obligatory picture of a Ferrari as the desktop background. Oh, you Italians!



There isn't much more to say about this product than wow. Racked up in the booth at the show were 2 non-descript radios that were fired up, passing traffic, and putting it out there for everyone to see. 
As 2 North American SE's traded out presentations for meeting after meeting with interested onlookers, it was great to see some excitement in the PTP microwave space.



The combination of features, capacity, and capability are spectacular. Once this finishes up the touches on FCC approval in October, there should be a great new radio on the market that fits into the budgets of large and small customers looking to deploy very-high throughput microwave in a licensed and solid 11 GHz band in the US. Can't wait to get my hands on a deployment for this!

The Polaroid Snap

What is have to do with wireless? Nothing. Why am I writing about it? Because Polaroid's are timeless, they have a new innovative product, and it was the most fun booth that I visited at the show.

No matter how many sports cars you park in your booth, how many rented show-babes you hire, or how great your tech is, the one thing that is proven time and time again, is that the people make the booth. Polaroid's two gentlemen at this year's event did that. From tongue-in-cheek sarcastic responses to overall product knowledge and amazing personality, they totally won.

They were mainly there to talk about this little new cube camera, the Polaroid HD Cube Action Cam, and the really cool Zip wireless printer (you can print via wi-fi, bluetooth, or NFC using the app and printer!) but the thing they had stashed behind a sign was the new Polaroid Snap



This camera is the reincarnation of the traditional Polaroid Instant Camera, but now available for the Holiday season. 

Load the paper in the back, snap a photo, and print it out. Fantastic simplicity in a new smaller form factor. Super excited! 



The write-up here does a much better job of the details, but I had to mention this for Polaroid as their staff was awesome!!

Sengled


Along the lines of awesome consumer products, this year's award winner for "Hot for the Holidays" is something I will definitely be buying. The Sengled Pulse



At a price point of around $150, this product is Bluetooth and soon Wi-Fi controllable LED light that fits into a normal socket, is controlled via an app, and oh yeah, has an integrated JBL speaker!




You screw it into the socket, associate it with the app, use the app to set brightness, power the lights on and off, and even group them, and then: crank up the tunes.

MP Antenna


Special mention here to MP Antenna. We were engaged in a great conversation about different use cases for antennas, why multi-polatization matters, what makes a good antenna, and overall nerdery, when Adam decided to hand me these two:



My first question was: where do you put these things? 
The answer: "On things that go fast"

Unfortunately I cannot elaborate on anything as I didn't get more than that, but I am envisioning live video streaming from some of America's favorite motosport dashboards as well as high-speed connectivity in vehicles on streets around the world.

What am I gonna do with em? Slim down my pineapple footprint. :)

Switch


As a Google Apps partner and technology consultant, I am always looking for ways to save my customers time and money by pairing up technologies that they are comfortable with, with technology that is easy to use. I stumbled across Switch in the Startup section of CTIA this year.

From the beginnings of a company name GrandCentral which was acquired and turned into Google Voice, to the launch of UberConference (a really cool conferencing on the fly app), Craig Walker has been the man behind making communications collaborative and way easier for all of us. Now, with Switch, the integration of Google Apps and your voice communications are seamless. 





Switch is a new business phone system that provides you with VoIP service for $15 a month. 
They've partnered with ObiHai (makers of an almost cult-classic following for a device that allows you to take your Google Voice number and plug a phone into it) to build a handset, wrap it with some really, really, sleek UI and change the way you think of communications  

I can't wait to see where this goes. Signing-up for my free trial as soon as I get home!

Ericsson


In my opinion the most important thing that could have been discussed at CTIA this year was about spectrum. I know that sound ridiculous because it is always about spectrum, so let me be specific: the use of unlicensed spectrum to push out a "5G" service called LAA LTE or LTE-U. 

So many articles, so much buzz, and so many viewpoints have been brought up about this that I honestly expected to see a little more on the show floor. There are even rumors of an AP manufacturer who is integrating LAA LTE into their APs, but they didn't even have a presence at the show; which was totally odd. After all the hub-bub and chatter, there was one corner, front and center at the Ericsson booth that took this head-on. And rightfully so.

Ericsson has been at the center of the LAA LTE debate since the beginning, with that big first TMO announcement that shook everyone up.  Google ripped up the tech with what seemed like a missile pointed straight at the carriers, but Ericsson had their customers 6 and didn't flinch. Instead, they chose to not file letters, write scathing white papers and offer their opinion; they showed up at the largest industry event on our continent and put their money where their tech was. Points to the Swedes on this one.



Under the heading "New Innovations for 2015" was this little setup:
2 laptops to control and measure a Realtek Wi-Fi client device connected to a Cisco AP, and an LAA-LTE device connected to one of their small-cell devices support LAA LTE in U-NII 3.


On two monitors about the setup you saw a break down of what was supposed to happen:

And a live view of what was really happening with the Wi-Fi device was cycled on and off:


Guess what? It seemed to work.
Now, I know that there is a LOT more to this than what is shown on these screens, and granted I was in a vendors booth that is one of the largest industry proponents, however, if this test was 100% legit, which it seemed to be after getting a very good walk through and demonstration from the sales AND Mr. Pekka the tech guy who put this together, I was smiling.

Some quick thoughts from someone who was explaining all this tech to his wife at the show:

The coolest thing about CTIA is that on one side of the show floor you have all of the towers, transmission, cable, and infrastructure gear. While on the other, you have accessories, chargers, cables, apps, devices, and things that make the most of your mobile device. 

Sandwiched in the middle are the mobile device manufactures and carriers. One side of the show feeds the other. Whoever is in charge of the layout of this event totally understands the importance of this eco-system and the symbiosis therein: you can't have one with out the other.

I think this is critical because it's not the infrastructure that drives the market. No one cares who Ericsson is. End-users could care less about which cable type you are using. What they care about is that other side of the show. If the equipment on the right side of the show can't provide what the consumer needs on the left hand side of the show, they will find someone that can.

What does this have to do with LAA LTE? Everything. 

When TMO and the other carriers start talking about what they can do for the end-users service, they are addressing the left hand side of the event, not the right. This is where the bullish attitude of people like Jon Legere come in and say "Fuck it, it better work" makes all the difference. 

LAA LTE is not an option, it is critical. It is going to and will happen, maybe not across every carrier, but there's a pretty good chance of it. Why? Because it's what the left hand side of the show wants, needs, and has to have: speed. capacity. service. 

I was so excited to see Ericsson facing the music on this. It shows that they are determined to get this to market, and again, not because they are pushing for it, but because their customers are, because that's what their subs want.

I love CTIA. What a great show. Well done in 2015 guys. See you next year!




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