Krishnan Rajam of Groopview On How 5G Technology May Improve and Impact Our Lives
An Interview With David Liu
55% of the world’s population lives in cities and this percentage will increase for the foreseeable future. This means more houses, schools, roads, traffic lights, emergency vehicles, parking meters, buses, streetlights, cameras, water, gas, and electricity, and many other services that will now need to be interconnected and on the network to transmit and receive data.
5G infrastructure is being installed around the world. At the same time, most people have not yet seen what 5G can offer. What exactly is 5G? How will it improve our lives? What are the concerns that need to be addressed before it is widely adopted?
In our series, called, How 5G Technology May Improve and Impact Our Lives, we are talking to tech and telecom leaders who can share how 5G can impact and enhance our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Krishnan Rajam.
Krishnan Rajam is the Chief Technology Officer of Groopview — the first social, group viewing technology platform built for 5G. In his role, Krishan is accountable for Groopview’s product and technology strategy, establishing strategic technology partnerships and relationships, delivery of product roadmap and features across cross functional organizations that provide high user engagement. He has operated at the intersection of Cable, Telco, Media and Technology industries for the past 30 years, with many successes in taking products from concept to launch. He is also the founder of a successful and high impact consultancy that has enabled many Fortune 100 clients successful execute multibillion dollar digital transformation programs, in record time. Krishnan is a strategic thinker with the ability to anticipate and forecast trends in technology, market conditions and customer expectations.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
A typical immigrant story. I came to the U.S. with a student visa to pursue a Masters of Business Administration at The University of Texas at Arlington. Following graduation, I went on to get a job and a green card. In 2003, I launched a consulting firm, BusinessOne Consulting Inc., which started with an initial investment of $5,000. Fortunately, I was able to land one of the largest players in the telecommunications world as a client and help them implement breakthrough technology products at a mass-market level. Since then, I have been fortunate to work with amazing Fortune 500 firms, enabling them to successfully execute multibillion-dollar digital transformation programs, in record time.
Today, I am the Chief Technology Officer for Groopview, the first social, group viewing technology platform designed for 5G. I oversee Groopview’s product and technology strategy, establishing strategic technology partnerships and relationships, delivery of product roadmap and features across cross-functional organizations that provide high user engagement.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting story that happened to me was when I first started a business consulting firm. I made an initial investment of $5,000. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but I managed to land the largest telecommunication company in the United States as my first client a year after starting. Landing this ‘whale’ was a huge stepping stone for my career. I helped them design, develop and launch a cutting-edge product that made a huge impact on the industry.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The path to success is most often not a straight line and you constantly need to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It starts with setting goals.”
When I graduated from college a friend asked what I would like to do in my career, beyond my first or second jobs. Without hesitation, I told them I wanted to run a management consulting firm without knowing or thinking through how I would get there. However, after a series of corporate jobs over several years, where I had the opportunity to get first-hand knowledge of how large companies work and also gain industry domain knowledge, I was ultimately able to start my consulting firm.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have learned a lot from the people I’ve worked with: bosses, peers, and my team. Sometimes, people see your potential that you may not even realize. When I started the consulting firm, I was able to get a meeting with a Sr. Vice President who was responsible for a $10 billion program, at a Fortune 50 company. Typically, large companies go with large consulting companies to help execute complex programs, avoiding small companies. In my meeting, I was able to convince the executive that we could provide something that other large consulting firms could not: in-depth industry knowledge, relentless focus on client success, and a culture of doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Getting a Master Services Agreement (MSA) with a large company often takes 12 to 18 months. However, our MSA was fast-tracked and we started work within a week and helped deploy one of the most complex infrastructures in telecommunications in less than 9 months. The executive took a chance and gave me the opportunity — the rest is history.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Setting Goals:
There is no “single” way to achieve success. Each person has to define success for themselves, in their own way, and it may not always be about money, title, size of the team, or budget. It could be job satisfaction, life balance, camaraderie as well as working on things that you are passionate about. You also need to set goals with reasonable timeframes and think through what is needed to achieve them. This seems like common sense; however, a large number of people don’t think about where they want to be in 5 years or what their passions are. It can never be just about a paycheck — it has to lead you in the right direction towards your ultimate goal.
This may sound cliché, but it is true: Nothing good comes easy. When you look at why some people are more successful than others, it’s their determination to succeed and realization of their vision and passion. People who succeed may not be the most talented or the smartest but, they are certainly the most resourceful and tenacious people because they find ways to achieve their goals.
3. Continuously Learn, Improve and Adapt:
In the technology world, if you’re not constantly learning, improving, and adapting — you’ll become obsolete. The pace of change will only accelerate. The ability to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest developments in technology, learning new skills, and adapting is key to long-term sustainability. Corporate lore is filled with companies that failed to innovate and adapt, ceasing their existence. This applies to individuals, too.
For example, I started the consulting business as a pure-play management consulting firm and we have successfully navigated industry megatrends and thrived: Internet, Mobility, Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Machine Learning. Throughout each era, we have re-tooled our skill sets and services to capitalize on opportunities that new technologies make possible.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects? How do you think that will help people?
As the CTO of Groopview, I help usher in a new era of communications that is built with 5G in mind. Groopview is an application and platform that enables users to watch videos together without being physically together. While the concept is simple, it’s very complicated to pull off at a mass-market level. With any successful technology, positive user experiences create product engagement growth from increased product adoption, and then it becomes a virtuous cycle.
Groopview’s mission is to enrich people’s lives, helping them communicate and connect in meaningful ways that weren’t possible before. No matter where people are located, Groopview provides them with technology to communicate and interact around content to foster connections like they’re watching in the same room.
Like 4G, 5G has many different facets, and I’m sure many will approach this question differently. But for the benefit of our readers can you explain to us what 5G is? How is 5G different from its predecessor 4G?
5G brings several technological advances that make it transformational. Some people call 5G the 4th industrial revolution. At the basic level 5G provides higher capacity (more simultaneous network connections), broader geographical network coverage, and faster network connections. 5G includes an array of innovations and technologies that will not only accelerate mobile applications but also unleash a wave of innovation similar to the internet.
5G uses 3 different ranges of Radio Frequencies: Low frequencies cover large areas and are typically used for Analog and Digital TV broadcast, and both 2G and 3G mobile communications. Mid frequencies are typically used for 4G and Wi-fi communications, providing higher capacity. High frequencies are used for satellite communications and IoT devices.
These frequency bands already exist and are nothing new; however, 5G includes several innovations to more efficiently use these spectrums and provide higher capacity, wider coverage, and faster network speed. The low band can provide hundreds of square miles of coverage, providing lower network speeds which might be equal to 4G or slightly better. The mid-frequency tier is usually deployed in densely populated metro areas to provide 2X-5X faster network speeds. High frequencies are used for venues like sports stadiums and conferences where mobile phones are highly concentrated and provide gigabit upload and download speeds that are 10X faster than 4G. Deployment technologies such as Small Cell, Millimeter Wave, Massive MIMO, and Beam Forming can further optimize coverage areas, speed, and spectrum utilization.
Additionally, 5G can be fixed or mobile. Fixed 5G antennas and routers/modems provide a wide array of enterprises an alternative to wireline network connections without sacrificing network speeds.
Carriers use one or more of these frequency bands to deliver services based on the licenses they have purchased, their deployment strategy, geography, population density, amongst many other factors. The network speeds are dependent on the frequency used and network speeds may vary significantly based on the network operator’s rollout strategy. 4G and 5G Mobile operators will be looking to optimize 3 parameters: Coverage — 5G can provide coverage over hundreds of square kilometers; Capacity — over a million connected devices per square kilometer are possible; Speed — sub-millisecond speeds, while also providing spectral and cost efficiencies for network operators. With 5G, carriers have a lot more options to work with.
Can you share three or four ways that 5G might improve our lives? If you can please share an example, for each.
- For consumers with 5G, mobile phones on a 5G network, faster network speeds mean better download and upload speeds. With a 1 gigabit connection that 5G can offer, an HD movie can be downloaded in as little as 2 minutes. The interactive gaming experience will be more immersive due to lower latency. With these features, more and more devices will be shipped with embedded 5G radios whether it’s Smart TVs, laptops, gaming consoles, appliances, and cameras that would further accelerate new and innovative applications. Cloud computing at the network edge will enable value-adding services that provide location-specific and targeted product offers, enabling users to discover deals and engage in e-commerce like never before.
- 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and this percentage will increase for the foreseeable future. This means more houses, schools, roads, traffic lights, emergency vehicles, parking meters, buses, streetlights, cameras, water, gas, and electricity, and many other services that will now need to be interconnected and on the network to transmit and receive data. Cities will rely on IoT devices to let them know a street light is burnt out or if a school bus has broken down and so on. These IoT devices need reliable networks, which is where 5G comes in. With 5G, network slicing cities can carve out virtual networks from the same physical infrastructure based on the application-specific requirements for latency, capacity, and network speed.
- For enterprises, fixed 5G provides an alternative to wireline network access without sacrificing capacity and speed — — with small-cell implementation 5G can automate factories and increase efficiency and cost like never before. Machines can talk to each other at blindingly fast speeds with millisecond latency and become much more efficient, thereby transforming the entire value chain: from the supply chain to manufacturing to distribution.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this 5G technology that people should think more deeply about?
For 5G to be ubiquitous, it will take time and high capital investment. For 5G to realize its full potential, the application development community will need to mobilize and create applications for the multitude of use cases. 5G is not just a consumer play, it’s more of an enterprise play as well.
As the 5G network footprint grows so will the adoption rate and availability of applications that can capitalize on the capabilities of 5G.
Some have raised the question that 5G might widen the digital divide and leave poor people or marginalized people behind. From your perspective, what can be done to address and correct this concern?
Not in the least and far from it. In any network that is owned and operated by private companies, it’s unreasonable to expect that all users and use cases will have the same speeds or bandwidth. It would make economic sense that densely populated geographies might get 5G benefits earlier than towns with much smaller populations. However, given that 5G can provide higher coverage and service more users per square mile, it can bring down the cost of providing service and make it more affordable. Additionally, to underserved rural markets, as mentioned earlier, 5G has the potential to support large geographies more economically in the low band spectrum and hence can provide a better than average service to large segments of the population. But it will take time.
Let’s zoom out a bit and ask a more general question. Based on your experience and success, what are the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career in the telecommunication industry? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Set Goals: By doing so, you are creating a roadmap for yourself and/or your career. It may not always go as planned but it gives you something to measure and strive for. It offers milestones and allows you to reach personal and professional achievements.
- Persevere: Regardless of what comes your way, perseverance is key to success. It’s your motivation and drive that enable you to break the barrier, learn new things, and lead you to success.
- Be aware of industry and economic megatrends and re-tool skill sets: The world is evolving and it is important to always keep your finger on the pulse. Never settle or stop learning or trying to innovate because as soon as you do, you will be left in the dust.
- Continuously learn and improve: Similar to the above, always learn new things and look at how you can improve or bring new ideas and products to the market. You never know what idea just might be the next best thing.
- Go the extra mile: This is key to setting yourself apart from the rest. Going the extra mile can mean different things to anyone. Whether it is paying attention to the little details or doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Those who go the extra mile will be remembered for what they do.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Download and use Groopview! Also, ask your content/service providers to integrate the Groopview experience as part of their service, so you can enjoy the video with your friends and family virtually like they are in the same room
How can our readers further follow your work online?
LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.