May 11, 2020
Member Spotlight: Meet Ericsson’s Dr. Brenda Connor .
The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) wireless-enabled devices is transforming life as we know it. Estimates say that by the end of 2023, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices worldwide and by 2025, the average connected person will interact with IoT devices every 18 seconds. IoT technologies will bring greater efficiency to communities, making them smarter, safer and more connected. We interviewed Dr. Brenda Connor, Director of IoT Portfolio Application at Ericsson, to discuss the company’s work at the forefront of this connected future.
What does Ericsson look forward to most about 5G?
Dr. Brenda Connor: What’s really cool about 5G is that it isn’t just designed to give more bandwidth and lower latency, which it does do of course—it will also bring economic growth, create new industries and more via secure reliable data delivery for IoT and for humans. Revolutionary services are going to come into play with 5G.
Ericsson and the greater wireless industry have had a big part to play in making IoT, 5G and other wireless technology more commonplace in American households. Think about what happened when we went from 3G to 4G. That’s when you started to see smartphones really become omnipresent, even for children, and the smartphone applications that opened up new business models such as ride sharing applications. 5G will have an even greater impact for new business model enablement.
What should we be looking for as 5G continues to rollout in markets throughout America?
Dr. Brenda Connor: The changes we will see in rural America and what 5G’s data centricity will do for people living there. Everybody talks about farming or precision agriculture, and that covers the obvious use cases for automation. But think about what could happen with manufacturing. Now that you have a more data-centric network and you have automation and artificial intelligence, the ability to have fully automated factories expands to encompass rural America where you have natural resources, water, electricity and other vital resources. Suddenly, you don’t need a large population to take care of these micro-factory situations that we might see pop up in rural America. So I think it’s going to be opening up rural America to do things that before were centered elsewhere.
What role do you see 5G playing in the future of smart cities?
Dr. Brenda Connor: When it comes to smart cities, 5G will lower the barriers for the cities themselves to deploy IoT technologies. This is because 5G has so many use cases, including for technologies that make cities more connected and more efficient. Take transit, for example. 5G will enable an expansive network of trains, cabs, taxis and other methods of transportation to be managed all on one network that can be utilized by city operators.
How does the CTIA Smart Cities working group cooperate to achieve common goals?
Dr. Brenda Connor: Working groups at CTIA put their brains together, and at the table you have a mix of individuals who have varying industry perspectives. You have folks that are working as public servants, vendors and business leaders all in dialogue about what we need as an industry and where we want to go next, so cooperation is key to any initiatives that we want to pursue.
Smart cities can be a pretty complex space, so we engage with the municipalities and smart communities to ensure that their perspective and their voices are heard during the process by asking questions like: “What are their challenges and concerns? What can we breakdown and simplify? How do I take that first step toward becoming a smart city?”
Through my role within the working group, I push the best practice and lessons learned at Ericsson. When it comes to CTIA, it’s not just Ericsson and the goals and policies we want. CTIA is a forum that’s there to represent the entire industry—small voices and larger voices—in policy advocacy and towards government entities. It’s there to educate, and it’s there to create relevant certifications that help protect the industry and the standards we have set for innovation.
What benefits does CTIA bring to the wireless industry, particularly for smart cities?
Dr. Brenda Connor: The benefits that CTIA brings to the wireless industry are immense, and they lie in many areas, but there are three major ones that are specifically critical to smart cities.
Policy. CTIA is a consortium that brings the various voices within the wireless industry together to discuss and impact public policy, and that is a very important role.
Education. When it comes to smart cities, if you’re not a technologist and you’re not in the weeds on wireless topics, real facts versus selling points can be quite confusing. CTIA takes a neutral approach towards education on the topics that are important for those that benefit from the wireless industry.
Certification. This is where I have been passionate about helping CTIA, particularly in the areas of smart city and intelligent transport systems. CTIA puts in place procedures to create a baseline certification for new IoT devices coming in. From security certification to device certification, which ensures that devices can consistently run on multiple networks, consumers don’t have to worry about their devices in these areas because it’s being taken care of on your behalf.
So these three areas— policy, education and certifications— are three areas where CTIA is really needed to help move the wireless industry forward, and we are very proud to be a part of that.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.