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Wireless Wars Part 1: Creating an Industry

By Carl Ford

This is a discussion about part one of Wireless Wars by Jon Pelson. This is not a book review, but some (hopefully not so random) thoughts based on the book. It is meant to engage you into joining our book club and read Wireless Wars.

While Jon does not go into the details of Nixon’s decision to visit China, it is his visit in 1987 that started the decision to get the ball rolling.

Part 1 of Wireless Wars recaps the extraordinary times of the last century and the Go-Go 90s as wireless got deployed, fiber optics became economical, the Internet became commercial and digital became the standard.

While the nineties were booming the seeds of collapse were planted long before. Wireless Wars shows why AT&T and its bell heads abandoned its wireless leadership based on the advice of a McKinsey study and myopic vision. How Marty Cooper of Motorola saw the market of connecting people not places as being the key driver to growth.

It was said back then the wireline communications industry was divided in thirds. A third that had dial tone, a third that was waiting for dial tone (due to poor switch capacity) and a third that was waiting for phone service. The wireless revolution bypassed the issues of wireline service and quickly saw adoption by the underdeveloped “third world” countries.

Throughout the chapters we see that China is not content with being the biggest underdeveloped nation but has plans of its own for becoming a modernized superpower. Among those with insight is Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei. Unlike the other telecommunication’s efforts Huawei was determined not to be in a joint venture with western telecommunications companies, but instead built a switch that closely resembled Mitel’s switch. This switch dominated the deployment for local service in rural China.

Most importantly Ren had Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s agreement that China needs its own telecommunications communications equipement to assure its own national security.

Please note I am inviting you to join the author and I in a book club discussion in the near future. Feel free to contact me [email protected] to join the discussion. I will be happy to invite you once the date is confirmed.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

Partner, Crossfire Media

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