When the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson AB announced in March that it was withdrawing from Mobile World Congress Barcelona, the news was swiftly followed by similar decisions from Nokia Corp., Sony Corp. and Oracle Corp. It appeared that MWC, the first major technology gathering to return in 2021 as a live event, would have a lot of empty space this year.
Then a small startup flipped the script. TelcoDR Inc. announced the same week that it would purchase Ericsson’s prime MWC location in Hall 2 of Fira Gran Via and rebrand it as Cloud City. The show will go on as planned, beginning June 28, and it will have a distinctly different feel.
“With a hundred days to go and the vaccine ramping, I saw it a different way,” said Danielle Royston (pictured), founder and chief executive officer of TelcoDR. “I think there’s a really big opportunity, and my view was this is going to happen. Now they’re going to hear about the public cloud, and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”
TelcoDR is partnering with theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming video studio, to bring a virtual experience to the 65,000-square-foot booth, approximately the size of a professional soccer pitch. There will be broadcasts of live interviews with industry leaders and software product demonstrations, and 100 telepresence robots will allow people to experience the TelcoDR booth remotely on their own.
Royston spoke with John Furrier, host of theCUBE. They discussed the reasons behind TelcoDR’s decision to take over the exhibit space, new technologies that will be highlighted at the booth, and how the venue will facilitate learning and dealmaking for participants.
Push for the public cloud
TelcoDR’s bold move at MWC offers further evidence of a sea change that is beginning to take place within the telecommunications industry. Royston, who was the chief executive at telecom software provider Optiva Inc. before departing to start her own company, has been firm in her belief that the telco future lies in a move of IT from on-premises operational models to the public cloud.
“I’m not going to stop until I move the industry to the public cloud,” Royston said. “It’s my life’s mission, and I’m psyched to do it.”
TelcoDR, which gets its initials from the founder, leverages Royston’s expertise in the industry to provide telcos with a roadmap to embrace 100% of hyperscaler functionality and save at least 50% on the total cost of operation. This will require adoption of new technologies in the space, such as Open RAN, or radio access network, industry-wide standards to support interoperability between hardware and software vendors in the telecommunications ecosystem. Royston is planning to host 20-30 vendors in the TelcoDR booth and demonstrate innovative new approaches.
“I am inviting like-minded, forward-thinking companies to join me in the booth,” Royston said. “I’m paying for it, providing a turnkey experience for those vendors. We’re thinking about future technologies, like Open RAN on the network side and obviously public cloud, which is a big part of my message.”
To gain a better sense of the MWC experience planned for Cloud City, Royston has posted artist renderings of the booth and what it will include on her Twitter feed. One key element will be meeting rooms with appropriately distanced seating, because a lot of deals get done at MWC.
“In 2019, the stat is that $65 billion of deals were put together at this show,” Royston noted. “A big component of the booth will be a place for executives to come together and have private conversations.”
Education and thought leadership
Because of her company’s focus on the public cloud, Royston plans to host a number of technology talks and presentations that will provide in-person and virtual visitors with a more comprehensive view of the enterprise IT space.
“Another part will be driving education and thought leadership,” Royston said. “There will be a talk track with tech topics, business topics, customer case studies. It will involve the hyperscalers and really start to educate the telco community around these new technologies.”
One of the speakers at MWC this year will be Royston herself. The TelcoDR founder landed a coveted keynote speaker slot at the event, along with industry figures such as Arvind Krishna, chief executive of IBM, and Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications Inc. She hinted that her message may challenge past thinking within the telecom community.
“I feel that I have an exciting message to share with the industry,” Royston said. “I really want to shake the industry, and this is my opportunity.”
Royston’s opportunity comes at a time when the corporate world as a whole is grappling with how to emerge from the affects of a global pandemic and reengage in a changed world. This year’s MWC gathering in June will offer a glimpse into what hybrid, interactive large-scale events may look like in the future.
“We’re going to have a livestreaming event over the course of all of MWC,” Royston said. “It’s going to be a way for people who are unable to travel or can’t afford it to see what’s going on in the booth. You are going to be part of something really fabulous.”
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations.
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