Live From Denver: The Big 5G Event 2021

Panel discussion at Light Reading’s Big 5G event. WILL TOWNSEND

Last week, I attended the Light Reading Big 5G Event in Denver, CO, my first live in-person event since the pandemic began. Let’s jump into my key takeaways from the event, which, interestingly, featured two different tracks depending on whether or not you attended virtually or in-person.

Big 6G?

The first day of the in-person agenda focused on 6G. I have been skeptical of 6G discussions in the past—I believe it it is simply too early to be having them outside of the 3GPP standards process. However, there was one 6G session at the event that intrigued me, featuring Brian Daly, an AT&T executive in charge of standards and industry alliances within the operator’s Chief Technology Organization. From Mr. Daly’s perspective, establishing consortia early to discuss tentpole subjects (such as Terahertz spectrum) could potentially reduce time to market for the next “G,” As this development process typically takes a decade between generations, this is indeed a compelling consideration.

5G’s role in precision agriculture

On the second day of the event, I attended a breakfast discussion that centered around precision agriculture. Precision agriculture is a management strategy that aims to gather, process and analyze data sources to maximize crop production. It was an impressive panel featuring tech giants Amazon Web Services and Intel, along with several regional operators.

The panel also discussed a recently chartered Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force designed to identify gaps of broadband Internet access across U.S. agricultural lands and develop policy recommendations designed to ensure 95% connectivity coverage by 2025. This is where Intel’s new Rural Cloud Initiative comes in. This is where Intel’s involvement in the new Rural Cloud Initiative comes in. During the panel, Intel outlined its involvement in digitally transforming rural America: an edge-enabled cloud network that can unlock disruptive capabilities, including private LTE and 5G, edge storage, video analytics, industrial automation, and drone connectivity.

The one-two punch of the task force coupled with the Rural Cloud Initiative can serve as a game-changer for “AgTech,” a subject I have written about in the past. I am also writing my first book titled “The Human Network,” where I plan to explore the topic further. If interested, you can find the details here in this Forbes article post.

Wrapping up

I applaud Light Reading for having a hybrid event. Half of the presenters participated virtually on the first day of keynotes, and physical attendance was light relative to other Big 5G events in the past. However, I found the keynotes and panels compelling, and it was great to connect with several colleagues and industry executives in person. The Big 5G Event is headed back to my hometown of Austin, Texas, in 2022, and I look forward to attending it (fingers crossed) with Covid-19 well behind us all.