Tradeshow Vibes: Connect (X)

Connect (X)
Colorado Convention Center
Denver, Colorado
May 23-26, 2022

Attendees: 3,000 (2,200 in-person in fall 2021; 2,600 in-person spring 2019)
Exhibitors: 153
Sponsors: 122
Speakers: 217
Media/Analysts: Not Reported

Calysto Overview

Connect (X) 2022 was in full swing last week, live and in-person, at the Colorado Convention Center. This marks the second live event since the pandemic for this relatively young and vibrant conference. Popularity is building. Attendance was up 27% compared to Connect (X) 2021 held last fall in Orlando and was 13% beyond the 2019 pre-COVID turnout.

Connect (X) is all about the connectivity sector in North America, including networking, services and suppliers. The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) created Connect (X) in 2018 as the combination of two successful WIA shows, the annual Wireless Infrastructure Show and the HetNet Expo (HetNet stands for heterogeneous networks or modern mobile communications networks comprised of different cell types and different access technologies). Growth and interest in both these events set the stage for the launch of Connect (X) and its focus on a world where wireless infrastructure connects everything.

Connectivity is hot, hot, hot. After two years of lockdowns, distancing and remote working (remote everything really), who doesn’t realize how critical connectivity truly is? Not surprisingly, 5G and its promise of universal connectivity and speed continues to take center stage. Connect (X) showcased leaders in 5G infrastructure, innovative technologies and supporting partners and professional services.

At Connect (X), every segment of the industry – from cell towers to fiber networks to 5G technology – met, engaged and exchanged insights and ideas under one roof.

Energy ran high at the event, which for many was their first in-person conference since late 2019. Connect (X) provided an excellent forum for networking with industry colleagues and meeting with clients and partners. There was ample opportunity for forging new business relationships in the exhibition hall and in informal settings like the annual golf tournament, event parties and a charity concert.

Keynotes & Content

In a fireside chat-style keynote, Dish Network’s Dave Mayo said Dish is on target with its 5G rollout. The company intends to cover 20% of the U.S. population this June, stepping this up to 70% by June 2023. Meta’s director of engineering, Dan Rampton, rounded out the six keynotes with an urgent message about the need for a new digital infrastructure and new Internet exchange points (IXPs) to support the forthcoming metaverse. Future immersive experiences like virtual reality meetings and VR gaming will require very low latency, all while generating massive amounts of data.

New sessions in 2022 delved into business opportunities emerging out of current government infrastructure spending, as well as what fiber everywhere means for future network deployments and the future of cloud-native networks. Those interested in workforce development got insights and strategies for attracting and retaining new tech employees.

Seven main tracks were designed to meet a wide spectrum of roles within the connectivity sector: Business Models (Fiber, 5G, Satellite, Utilities, Capital, Finance, and Investors), Capital and Finance, Technology Evolution (Fiber, RAN, Edge, Network Virtualization, 5G, and more), Private Networks – Enterprises, Integrators & Property Owners, Community Connectivity, Policy & Regulation, Spectrum and Workforce – Supplier Diversity, Apprenticeship, and Training, Recruitment.

Connect (X) has content and experiences for C-level executives, investment professionals, infrastructure owners, engineers, private network customers, local government leaders and HR managers.

Show Buzz

Predictably, 5G topped the conversation at Connect (X). AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are all vying to be the U.S. 5G leader, each racing to bolster and build out their nationwide 5G network coverage over the next few years. Newer entrant Dish Network is also in the running.

What does the massive 5G buildout mean for digital infrastructure investments? A panel of top executives in the U.S. cell tower industry debated whether 5G, fiber networks, small cell solutions or data centers are the best bet in terms of real opportunity, profit and ROI. Billions of dollars are on the table. What is the next big growth opportunity? Will there be a slow-down in tower activity as wireless carriers get closer to finishing out 5G networks? What about financial impacts due to current inflation, supply chain issues and fears of recession? Are tower and digital infrastructure providers sheltered from these “macro trends?”

Interest and investment are mounting in Private 5G. Established wireless operators have huge amounts of licensed spectrum they are using to bolster their nationwide 5G networks, but they also hold millimeter-wave spectrum (mmWave) that could be ideal for indoor locations and Private 5G networks. On the Connect (X) show floor, network infrastructure providers like CommScope and Baicells showed off their small cell hardware, much of which can be used in private networks within businesses and school campuses. According to the Small Cell Forum (SCF), 68% of small cells will be deployed in the enterprise by 2026.

The WIA announced the departure of President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein, with a new president to be named in August. Adelstein is recognized for growing Connect (X) from a small trade show into a well-known national event for the entire connectivity industry. He will join digital infrastructure firm DigitalBridge as a managing director and head of global policy and public investment.

PR: Media & Analysts

Editors and analysts from Light Reading, SDxCentral and Fierce Wireless posted daily coverage. A good smattering of thought leadership articles covered the latest on digital infrastructure, 5G advancements and market outlooks, as well as trending technologies like 6G, Open RAN and Mobile Edge Computing. Digital Twinning could help cell tower customers evaluate the space and structural capabilities of a given tower remotely. See Articles of Interest below.

Additional supporting media sponsors included AGL Media Group, Connected Real Estate Magazine, Enterprise IoT Insights, Inbuilding Tech, RCR Wireless News and Via Satellite.

While there were some press announcements during the week of the show, Connect (X) organizers are planning to beef up PR coverage for upcoming events.

Up Next

Connect (X) 2023 will be held at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La., May 8-10, 2023.

Articles of Interest

Digital infrastructure gamblers begin placing their bets
Light Reading
Mike Dano
May 31, 2022

Amid ‘rip and replace’ funding debate, some rural wireless carriers move on
Light Reading
Mike Dano
May 27, 2022

Private networks drive small cells in big way
FierceWireless
Monica Alleven
May 26, 2022

Dish Delighted by Silicon Advancements
SDxCentral
Dan Meyer
May 26, 2022

Meta Asks for More Connectivity, Collaboration
SDxCentral
Julia King
May 26, 2022

AT&T Will Deploy Standalone 5G Core When Ecosystem Matures, SVP Says
SDxCentral
Nancy Liu
May 26, 2022

U.S. tower execs express optimism despite the economy
FierceWireless
Linda Hardesty
May 25, 2022

Meta’s engineering director outlines the metaverse latency problem
Light Reading
Mike Dano
May 25, 2022

The Politicalization of Climate Change in Business
SDxCentral
Emma Chervek
May 25, 2022

Hyperscalers Could Turbocharge 6G Evolution
SDxCentral
Dan Meyer
May 25, 2022

Private 5G Wireless Battle Brewing
SDxCentral
Dan Meyer
May 25, 2022

How ‘digital twins’ of cell towers could speed 5G
Light Reading
Mike Dano
May 25, 2022

Will Open RAN Have to Wait for 6G?
SDxCentral
Dan Meyer
May 24, 2022

Dish’s Mayo: So far, so good on meeting 5G buildout deadlines with $10B
FierceWireless
Monica Alleven
May 24, 2022

Verizon 5G SVP Talks Edge, Touts Public, Private MEC
SDxCentral
Emma Chervek
May 24, 2022

AT&T will activate 5G standalone core when devices are ready
FierceWireless
Linda Hardesty
May 24, 2022

Marek’s Take: The complex world of wireless price plans
FierceWireless
Sue Marek
May 24, 2022

Industry Spotlight: Building Out With Sitetracker CEO Giuseppe Incitti
Telecom Ramblings
Rob Powell
May 23, 2022

Top Moments on Twitter

#ConnectX22 and @ConnectX_USA

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To read Tradeshow Vibes from the Big 5G Event 2022, click HERE.

To read Tradeshow Vibes from this year’s International Telecoms Week (ITW) 2022, click HERE.

To read Tradeshow Vibes from this year’s Enterprise Connect 2022, click HERE.

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