So what will trigger the next big change? By Geoff Varrall, RTT Online

cwtec pre-event


Geoff Varrell shares insights into the overarching CW TEC topic ‘ integrate or differentiate’ as we countdown to the inaugural technology and engineering conference, 24 March 2015, PWC LLP, London.


‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

What they got was the Model T Ford.

The introduction of Henry Ford’s first mass produced motor car in 1908 might seem a long way from the telecommunications industry of today but the story remains the same – commercial success is determined by the ability to decrease cost and increase user value.


The CW TEC conference sets out to answer the question; integrate or differentiate?

Integration implies a closer technology and market coupling between traditionally separate sectors in the telecommunications industry – mobile broadband, satellite, LTE, Wi Fi, broadcasting and low power low bandwidth connectivity.

Differentiation implies an increasing technology and market distance between each of these industry sectors.

In practice it is perfectly possible to integrate and differentiate and there are many areas of mutual interest where it makes sense for the mobile broadband community to work more closely with the satellite and broadcasting industry and low power device community (and automotive industry as well).

This extends across the whole range of alarmingly complex and costly spectrum and standards options.


When Ford set up his first production line, he borrowed techniques from the watch making industry, gun makers, bicycle makers and meat packers. He doubled the working wage. His workers could afford to buy the products they were making. And improved supply chain efficiency by reducing consumer choice (any colour as long as it’s black).

Ford’s success was built on a combination of technology (lighter heat treated steel), process innovation and optimised manufacturing – by 1924 the Michigan factory was producing 10,000 cars a day.

And in many ways that is what is happening in our industry today. There are hundreds of smart phones in the market but only two dominant products by volume and value. The cost of complexity has forced and enabled consolidation in the user device space and component and system supply chain and narrowed consumer choice.


So what will trigger the next big change? 

Well probably materials and manufacturing innovation – the ability to build new materials and combinations of new materials in ultra-thin molecular structures down to a single atom – graphene and silicone, germanane, black phosphorus….

The production line is dead – long live the production line, producing products that do things that we haven’t even thought of yet by companies that don’t yet exist.

And black is a really nice colour. Now where did I leave my horse?

To follow CW TEC on Twitter, @CambWireless, please use #CWTEC


About The Author

Geoff Varrall is Director at RTT Online
Follow on twitter at: @geoffvarrall


Keep the conversation going on Twitter: @CambWireless

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