We’re delighted to announce that Diana Goovaerts (pictured, below), editor of Wireless Week, will be joining Mobile World Live (MWL) next month to head up our editorial coverage of the US market. Diana’s experience and industry reputation will strengthen our content offering and I’m delighted she’s coming on board in time for MWC Americas. Ahead of that, I asked Diana what attracted her to the role, what are the hottest (and most overhyped) topics in the region right now, and whether she’s ready to accept that her American English text may be “corrected” – Justin
JS: So why have you joined MWL?
DG: I think a combination of factors went into the decision, but ultimately the time was right and it was too good an opportunity to turn down. After working in newspaper and book publishing for several years, I kind of fell into telecom when I started at Wireless Week a couple of years back. I was new to the whole world and the sea of acronyms – a lot of times I felt like I had no idea what I was talking about as I covered my first stories. But, over time I’ve grown more confident in my industry knowledge, and can now ask better questions that get to the beating heart of what’s happening in telecom. When MWL offered me the chance to join such a well-respected team, I thought it would be a great step forward to continue learning while helping build a stronger presence in the US market I’ve been covering.
JS: Have you attended MWC Americas before in its previous incarnation (CTIA)?
DG: I have! Wireless Week was actually responsible for putting together the official CTIA show dailies for many years. Unfortunately, I only came in on the tail end of things, but had the opportunity to work with them in person on last year’s dailies. The show was a great time then, and I can’t wait to see how it’s going to change and expand this year!
JS: Will you have a hard time adjusting to the use of ‘s’ and not ‘z’ in our copy?
DG: Oh gosh – yes, probably. Don’t you Brits also like to add the letter “u” in random places, too? Thank goodness I can just change the language in spell check!
JS: Sum up the US mobile market in three words:
DG: Ah, ok, that’s hard. But here it goes – 5G, Unlimited, Spectrum.
JS: Ok, three words can’t really do it justice. What’s your overall take on the state of the region’s industry right now?
DG: Oh good! I’ll try to be succinct. There are a bunch of moving parts in the US market right now, but I’ll do my best. Obviously, the big headline grabber is 5G. All the carriers are talking about trials and early deployments of fixed wireless 5G – and a few others have already laid out their mobile 5G plans even though the 3GPP standards aren’t out yet. But getting there is easier said than done.
Mobile data traffic is skyrocketing stateside, and the resurgence of unlimited plans from virtually all carriers isn’t exactly slowing that trend. So carriers are working furiously to light up new airwaves, densify their networks (hello, small cells), and deploy new technologies like 4×4 MIMO, 256QAM, carrier aggregation, and unlicensed in an attempt to alleviate the burden. Of course, a lot of those things are setting the stage for 5G down the line, but in the short term they’re bringing us closer to Gigabit LTE, which is exciting in its own right.
There’s also a lot of conversation around spectrum in the United States. Talk about millimetre wave bands for 5G has been going on for a while, and carriers are now touting deployments of low-band 600MHz spectrum won in the FCC’s recent incentive auction. Chatter around unlicensed technologies like LTE-U/LAA/MulteFire is also buzzing around out there, particularly as carriers use unlicensed to hit the 1Gb/s mark.
But the latest spectrum debate centres on what US regulators should do with the 3.5GHz band (also known as the CBRS band). The FCC laid out a spectrum sharing plan for the band in 2015 that uses smaller licence areas and shorter licence terms. The goal there was to make it easier for non-traditional users to jump into wireless. As countries around the world look at the 3.5GHz band for 5G, though, US carriers are increasingly agitating for the FCC to change the rules and make the band plan more suitable for carriers to deploy 5G services. So that’s an ongoing issue.
Since I’m trying to keep it short, I guess I’ll say honourable mention goes to ongoing work on virtualisation efforts (SDN/NFV/C-RAN) as well as a flurry of activity on the IoT front across a number of carriers. More on all of this from me soon!
JS: There’s loads of speculation about what could happen to Sprint and T-Mobile. What do you think is going to happen in terms of operator M&A over the next year?
DG: Yeesh, I don’t know. I mean, I feel like if it were going to happen at all it would be between them since they’re the two “underdogs,” though I also get the reasoning behind a potential cable-wireless match. But any deal would have to pass Department of Justice scrutiny. So it’ll be interesting to watch how other big mergers work their way through the system under the new administration.
JS: What’s going to be the biggest disappointment in mobile over the next year?
DG: Maybe not the biggest, but I don’t think VR is going to make it to the mainstream just yet.
JS: What’s your favourite app?
DG: There’s one of those “u”s I was talking about! Anyway, I don’t think I have a favorite – excuse me, favourite – app so much as “most used” apps. Those would probably be Facebook (cliche, I know) followed by Fitbit, email, Twitter, and random searches in Chrome.
JS: Apple or Android?
DG: Apple. But I say that: 1. with the knowledge they’re not always on the cutting edge; and 2. as someone who has an iPhone that is several generations old. Guess I’m part of that slow upgrade cycle trend – sorry guys!
JS: What’s the one thing you’d like the next iPhone to offer (but probably won’t!!)?
DG: Doughnuts on demand. But I don’t think they can fit an easy-bake oven in a 7mm deep casing.
JS: Tell us something very few people know about you.
DG: I’ll give you two things, actually. Yay, trivia!
First, I used to ride a Harley. It was a black Harley-Davidson 1200 XL with a Screamin’ Eagle exhaust, and it was a blast to take on the country roads in my area. But I didn’t use it enough, so I passed it on to someone who would enjoy it more a few years ago.
Second, I love to travel generally, but at one point in my younger years I actually drove across the country – from New Jersey to San Diego, California – by myself! There was a scary moment during the trip when my car decided to just turn itself off while I was driving in the middle of the New Mexico desert with no cell phone service. Thankfully, the car started right back up again after I pulled over and gave it a rest, but for a minute I was worried I’d end up in some dramatic movie scenario. Now I’m wondering whether they’ve improved service out there. I’ll have to check!
Follow Diana on Twitter here.