One need only look at features included in the souped-up iOS 7 announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference to see that Wi-Fi has truly become the cellular industry's BFF.
The 2013 Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Conference brought to light many of the challenges facing the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and the public-safety community as they try to develop modern broadband communications networks.
Small mobile operators have a lot of issues to deal with as they strive to compete in the wireless broadband arena against the likes of industry giants such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
The small cell hype is finally beginning to waiver as reality sets in about the costs associated with deploying thousands of these diminutive base stations. The benefits of small cell technology are clear, but issues such as power and backhaul are challenging and not easily resolved.
Though they're in my own backyard, I only recently got a chance to tour the Public Safety Communications Research laboratories in Boulder, Colo. And now I realize what a big deal they are. PSCR is a joint effort of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It has been instrumental in performing interoperability research on behalf of the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet), which is overseen by NTIA and is charged with putting together the National Public Safety Broadband Network.
Until recently, SDN and virtualization were not seriously considered for use in massive telecom networks, but that is rapidly changing. According to a recent report from Strategy Analytics, operators are virtualizing lower-layer network resources, especially for next generation 4G IMS networks that already separate the data and control planes as SDN does.
To see a disheartening example of what can happen when a government regulator tries to increase wireless competition by keeping spectrum from a nation's dominant operators, shoot a quick glance at the Great White North.
According to the agenda for the First Responder Network Authority's meeting this past week, board member Paul Fitzgerald was supposed to deliver an update on the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), which was created to provide input to FirstNet from the public-safety community.
I've been watching for signs of a Dish Network get-together with Sprint Nextel since late 2011, due to a conversation I had with an acquaintance who did not work in the telecom or cable industries but knew a number of Dish employees. Those folks had been talking about Charlie Ergen's plans to build a new wireless network using satellite spectrum he had acquired, and they also mentioned that Sprint Nextel was probably going to be a player in this network.
Network infrastructure vendors increasingly resemble traditional IT companies, offering a bevy of software and services designed to enable operators to compete in a Web-centric world. The emergence of cloud services, software-defined networking and the like will ensure this trend continues.