White House Kicks Off 5G Tech Jobs and Research in Puerto Rico [Kickoff Presentation]

Video Transcript

KURT PFLUGER: Thank you everyone for joining the call today. This is a kick-off call for the Puerto Rico 5G Zone. The Puerto Rico 5G Zone is a state-of-the-art 5G laboratory that’s been set up by collaboration between XQ, which is a data security company. Celeres Capital from which I work is currently living […] 5G, and an advanced innovation and test lab, also known as the Indiana 5G Zone. So we really see a very interesting opportunity here to put Puerto Rico in a leadership position for 5G, and the all of the efficiencies that it can bring to the island in terms of advanced manufacturing, resilient energy and other verticals where 5G is an enabler. So the primary goal of the 5G zone is to enable entities both in government, industry, and academia to better understand those opportunities that are presented by 5G. And we see that as I mentioned, that Puerto Rico now put itself in position with this 5G lab to become a thought leader to create some advanced innovation and intellectual property, which we also think will stimulate new companies and new ideas that will be commercialized. So we think this is a really great opportunity to to help fortify the future in Puerto Rico. The initial push for the 5G zone is to have it located in Mayaguez, which is on the west coast of the island, which is where the University of Puerto Rico resides and the engineering department there. So we think that there are a lot of synergies that could tie together this 5G lab, and headquartering that in Mayaguez, along with all of the different efforts that are being done there on the engineering side. In addition to that we envision satellite lab locations where other parts of the island could have a small lab that would be able to remotely access the testbed that could be made available in the 5G zone. We’ve been very fortunate to have Sean Hendrix and the Indiana 5G Zone that have already kind of laid the groundwork in their efforts in Indiana for for this kind of setup. So that that’s been a very helpful boost for for this effort that we’re bringing to Puerto Rico.

GAIL NOLAN: Kurt, can I just interject a thought to put this into context from a Puerto Rico perspective? In the location that we’re talking about out in Mayaguez, we’re working with so Indiana has the first 5G cybersecurity focused Center of Excellence testbed in the US. Wisconsin has the first connected systems Institute around IoT for manufacturing. We’re also working with them so that the two facilities would be co-located and we would be the first place in the country where both of those things would work together. And I also want to put into context the individuals on the call. Christian who’s from Wovenware, Wovenware is a company that specializes in AI. In fact, they’re one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country, and had done a lot of really interesting AI technologies from a tracking perspective. So I’m hoping that kind of puts the individuals on the call and some of the concepts that we’re looking at, in the context as Puerto Rico being the first in the country, and then that important alignment to the pharmaceutical medical device and logistics industry being served by that data center.

KURT PFLUGER: That’s great. Yes, thank you Gail. And I think now, it’s an appropriate time to bring in Randy Clark, who’s the vice chair at the National Spectrum Consortium to give us a little bit of background in on 5G and where it resides here in Puerto Rico.

RANDY CLARK: Good afternoon. My name is Randy Clark. I am the elected vice chair of the National Spectrum Consortium. I also do business development work for the Department of Defense and national security agencies at Verizon Wireless. I’ve spent my career in technology starting as a Marine Corps communicator many years ago, in the first Gulf War. The National Spectrum Consortium is an Other Transactional Authority, so it’s an OTA. And OTAs are responsible for the rapid acquisition process to speed prototyping to production efforts for the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Our chairman, Sal D’Itri […] We also reap other benefits from prototyping, and that’s shortening the time to market for many new technology innovations especially on the […] Our consortium is charted to collaborate with the Department of Defense and other federal agents, the US industrial base, academia, non-traditional small businesses to help the acceleration of leap ahead technologies and 5G. In our primary focuses around spectrum agility, so how you operate through contested and congested spectral environments, this is a leading technology for the US globally. Also zero trust cyber security architectures, and dual use architectures and technologies. Like e-learning, edge compute, AR, VR, and IoT as examples. Also note that I am a native of Wisconsin and went to the University of Wisconsin, to that comment earlier. The underpinning, we’re wireless platform that is going to usher in the digital modernization and accelerate this nation’s economic development. At the same time, increasing the operational efficiency of our government. The National spectrum consortium is focused on high performance high security 5G network architectures that will meet the needs of the smart factory in the smart flightline by focusing on power resiliency, telecommunications, isolation, and zero trust. These three, what I refer to as blackout manufacturing requirements are fundamental to any smart instance of the future. So I’ll explain each one briefly. Of course, you can do a presentation on each one independently. However, power resiliency is required to ensure that we drive the critical operation and information technologies that run the smart factories and the smart cities, right? This on site, renewable energy and storage is a sustainable way to achieve this goal. Telecommunications isolation, you know, is enabled by the installation of a localized, soft switch core that allows us to locally switch and provision our smart assets without connectivity to the cloud or remote core. This is important when we lose T-1 connectivity. You know, we still have achieved independent site operations that’ll allow us to, to continue our mission. You know very similar to power, where when we move power from the grid, if we […] our IT operations with sustainable renewable energy and storage, we don’t need the grid. So these are important elements to any smart instance because it allows you to quote unquote do that blackout manufacturing right. In blackout environments, I can continue from a DOD perspective […] I can continue because of a self sustaining resilient design. The last of which is software based zero trust in which enables us to protect data entry that’s sent over untrusted hardware over any IP modality, globally. And we’re going to hear a little bit more about zero trust later on. Of course, all of these goods […] we have a real opportunity to leverage P4s, public public private partnerships, to engage in the funding of the infrastructure of the renewable energy sources to pay back the original investment and support the maintenance goals […] These in full truth, in our dual use methodology and we can start this by closer collaboration between federal and state 5G research labs and those within academia. The National Spectrum Consortium and our members play a key role in this conversation to ensure our continued […] arguably a trillion dollar 5G ecosystem. So, with those thoughts, I’m gonna turn it over to Rear Admiral Peter J. Brown, U.S. Coast Guard. Admiral Brown currently serves as President Trump’s Special Representative for Puerto Rico disaster recovery efforts. Admiral Brown sir, the mic is yours.

RADM PETER J. BROWN: Well, thank you very much. And thanks all for putting together this call. There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the electrical grid for Puerto Rico, and how its lack of reliability has resulted in a lot of companies becoming under duress. At the same time pharmaceutical or aerospace, electronics companies and power companies generating their own power to produce resiliency for operations when the system has failed them. A related story that I’ve heard multiple times in Puerto Rico is that the lack of consistent and reliable communications with power failures has also hampered business. So for example, electronics manufacturer, or test facility that relies on communication back with the mainland, although they may have an island of electricity, where the communications infrastructure existing in Puerto Rico had failed them, they were unable to continue business as normal in a time of duress. And so many of these companies have now also become, alternatively communication companies, investing in facilities and capabilities of their own many of them satellite base. And they could certainly benefit from the enhanced capability, reliability and resiliency of a next generation 5G network up in Puerto Rico. And that would reduce the barriers to entry for new businesses in Puerto Rico, as well as make more competitive those companies that are currently doing business in Puerto Rico that may have the opportunity to expand again, whether that’s in pharmaceuticals and our National Medical Supply Chain, whether it’s in entertainment, information management, the creative arts, whatever field of endeavor obviously. Rapid and reliable communication at high data rates is important to the world that we’re living in, will live in the future. So any project that can enhance capability, reliability and resilience across the communications infrastructure, is something that will be very appealing, both to government and non governmental functions in Puerto Rico. Last few things I’ll say, relate less directly to business customers, but more to the people of Puerto Rico. The two areas of endeavor where the people of Puerto Rico are underserved relative to their mainland counterparts, absolutely vital to quality of life, are education and tele-health. And, in both cases, lack of reliable and high speed internet access has hampered the ability of the government of Puerto Rico to deliver services to the people and, you know flip the script around, It’s hampered the ability of the most vulnerable and needy populations to get to the services that they most need, very specifically, education and health care. And so there’s great interest in building a new telecommunications, infrastructure and ecosystem, a term that was used a couple minutes ago, to better service the people, both in their business endeavors and in their quality of life.

GAIL NOLAN: Thank you Admiral Brown. Those are excellent points. And it just shows the breadth of the importance of this particular project. So I think that was there, there were two hopes and objectives in this phone call. Number one is the idea of just making you aware and making the White House Science Technology office aware of this important opportunity, but also there is this, this project is moving forward in their support from a public private perspective. But there is additional funding that would help to scale it up, and so we were hoping to with his team kind of brainstorm where there might be some opportunities to enhance that, the footprint of what it could mean for the island.

RADM PETER J. BROWN: Thank you, Gail. I am not aware of specific federal funding associated with this, at least not in the disaster recovery lane. But the governor of Puerto Rico has set aside, with F1B approval, a quantity of money. I believe that number that I most recently heard a couple months ago was $400 million to improve internet access and telecommunications overall for the island. I would have to find out, I don’t know if Inves, or DEDC, or another part of the government of Puerto Rico would have more details available on how the money is being metered out and what the criteria for accessing and using that money might be.

GAIL NOLAN: That’s fantastic. I’ll certainly explore that from an invest Puerto Rico perspective.

KURT PFLUGER: Sean Hendrix, director of the Indiana 5G Zone. Sean.

SEAN HENDRIX: Thanks, Kurt. And thanks, everyone for the opportunity to talk today. I guess I just want to say number one, I’m very excited. It was just a few short weeks ago that me and my team had the opportunity to engage with the Puerto Rico team and explore what I’m finding to be a very productive and meaningful partnership. It’s kind of, you know, here in Indiana, we started an initiative just over a year ago, with the goal to help government, industry, and academia collaborate and better understand the opportunities that are presented by 5G. Some of the previous speakers have talked about how 5G is evolving. But I’d also like to mention that there’s still a lot of unknowns, and there’s still a lot of work to be done. And so being able to bring together entities in a collaborative way so that we can enhance our thought leadership, drive the requirements, help understand the solutions related to 5G in a practical way, is a useful form of collaboration. In Indiana we took a State centric view initially in that when you look at 5G it’s a very large space. And so we tried to pick areas that we were traditionally good at, and used this technology or focus on the digital transformation of these physical industries. Specifically the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, smart cities, and national security, and public safety. These are areas that Indiana already plays it has an industrial base established but as we all understand 5G is really rapidly transforming us from kind of physical industries into digital industries. To give some color behind that, we also try to focus on the dual use nature of the technology. I mentioned, as I mentioned earlier, national security and public safety. And, you know, one may initially look at this and say, what’s that have to do with manufacturing, agriculture, cities and maybe even mobility. And while these applications are very different, the National Security application, say the city’s app city application. Really the underlying fundamental technologies, though, are very similar. So the ability to connect high bandwidth, low latency devices in a massive IoT environment. The ability then to do information processing at the edge, and then share that information that works fast in between other edges in the cloud. These techniques, technologies, methods, and strategies apply in all of the various use cases. So with the Indiana in the 5g zone, we began to recognize that really building a testbed that allows our partners to work in end-to-end fashion, so from device to the edge to the cloud, and really work on applications, was kinda the way we wanted to go to get towards our goal of practical 5G. As we’re starting to stand up the Indiana 5G Zone, we went operational just a couple weeks ago. Yet, we still continue to expand the test environment and refine our configurations, tools, and methods. As we’ve been pulling in and working with a number of industry partners, academic partners, and now a larger group of other public sector partners. What’s interesting is our charter comes from the Indian Economic Development Corporation. So from one point of view, we’re really an economic development entity, but not in the traditional sense of tax incentives and things like that. Our premise is that economic development and economic opportunity will come as a result of innovation. And innovation only comes as a result of collaborating with others in your neighborhood, so to speak. And so the opportunity to reach out and collaborate with Puerto Rico, to share our lessons learned about our testbed. But frankly, it’s also been an opportunity to the 5G applications from a different perspective. So we talked earlier in the call about pharmaceutical manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, electronics, etc. Indiana has some of these businesses, some of these manufacturing industries as well. So there’s similarities, but there’s also a number of differences in how we deal with the unique environments that we’re working in. Randy mentioned earlier about the concept of resilient power. So how we manage these assets and applications. So at the end of the day, these, you know, it’s necessary to partner because we can’t do it all by ourselves. The 5G pie is very large. And it takes this network of collaboration to help build a network, a system of testbeds that is really greater than the sum of the parts. I think what’s very interesting going forward is that in a few months from now when the Puerto Rico test set is active, we’re not just going to have a Puerto Rico testbed and an Indiana testbed. We’re actually going to have two testbeds that will be able to interact, talk, communicate, and run prototypes and experimentation with one another. So we’ll essentially have a larger macro testbed consisting in the two parts. That goes to really how we see a lot of the benefits of fostering and participating in these collaborations. And I truly want to say in conclusion, thanks to Kurt and the Puerto Rico team for inviting us in and giving us an opportunity to share our experience, but also being a great partner and helping grow our understanding of 5G by the work that’s happening in Puerto Rico.

GAIL NOLAN: Thank you so much, Sean. Is anyone from OSTT on this call?

ERIC BERGER: Yeah, you have Eric Berger here
Berger here.

GAIL NOLAN: I would appreciate so much your thoughts or, you know, any insight.

ERIC BERGER: Well, definitely this is a model that we really prefer. We talked about like the from the National Spectrum Consortium, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Actually building stuff and, you know, seeing what works. It creates companies because you find you think you can do this with the technology that actually doesn’t quite work but you actually discover something much better. We also like it because of the public-private nature, namely, it’s not just government handing out money and hoping something sticks. Where, you know, the NSF does that and they do it very well but at this stage in the development of the technology, to share a little bit of the risks and to encourage private industry to invest generally comes out with much better results. Something to think about influencing, I know you asked me what about money and why the NSC? DOD, RDT&E does have some budgets. So if you can think of projects or things that again have that dual use nature, there may be some funding there. That’s not like disaster related or regular, I guess, development related. Something that would help with the, you know, the global view, you know is, what’s special about Puerto Rico? Not so much necessarily, because actually, Puerto Rico does have some things that are geographically unique. For example, in the mid band, water presents quite a challenge, depending on the weather. And so, you know, projects around that, and that would be definitely a good DOD partnership to look at because it’s the Navy radars that, you know, have problems in the mid band here. I have to say, you know, Puerto Rico is a more contested environment. So that’s something that can be brought there. Certainly there’s a lot of work on repairing and revitalizing the manufacturing base in Puerto Rico. So, you know, and then what I thought I heard was, you know, one of the focuses of this partnership would be, possibly, you know, also manufacturing. So that is sensible. But you know, things like that can tie in pressures that makes it a better sale throughout the federal enterprise. Other than that I think I’m hearing good things. Over.

GAIL NOLAN: Great, thank you. And, to your point about the manufacturing side of the equation. It was very purposeful, that actually, I will actively say, I’m kind of the data person of this call. Wisconsin and Indiana always kind of trade back and forth on a yearly basis to have the highest concentration of manufacturing in the US. It kind of switched shifts back and forth between Wisconsin an Indiana. And so it was very purposeful that those were two best case and best practice examples that Puerto Rico looked at in putting together this center of excellence moving forward. And then mentioning that would be a big focus area. But I really appreciate your comments on, you know, the radar in the military perspective, in terms of the significance . So that’s something I think for this team to really think through.

ERIC BERGER: It’s not necessarily a be all end all. Think of things I, you know, not looking at it closely, maybe there’s something around coexistence with Arecibo or Backhaul or something like that. Things that leverage the uniqueness of the island.

GAIL NOLAN: Thank you. That’s wonderful. That’s great input.

KURT PFLUGER: In talking about 5G, obviously, without a secure 5G platform, you know, it’s problematic. So one of the companies that we have here today on the call is XQ. Is a Silicon Valley based company that’s developed a very unique platform for securing not only 5G but other other platforms. And so today, we have Brian Wane the CEO of XQ on with us.

BRIAN WANE: Thank you Kurt and thank you everyone for having us today. I’m Brian Wane, CEO of XQ. To put it simply, XQ enables the encryption and tracking of data as it moves across platforms. We’re an API based data protection platform that provides quantum safe packet encryption and tracking, or more simply, encryption as a service. So it’s special that this new security architecture where the data and encryption information move separately. We’re never together and we never have the data. So it makes it incredibly difficult to target, it’s very scalable and very secure. This allows all types of systems to talk together safely across existing infrastructure that couldn’t do so before. So right now 5G IoT data is wide open. We’re here to protect it easily and cost-effectively across systems. For example, data moving from a sensor to a cloud in a 5G network, or email moving from one account to another. Say you have a network of IoT devices. With a q&a device, the data is encrypted and can then travel across any open network to any other edge device, or server application, and can be decrypted. The two endpoints never have to know about each other, other than an address. That’s super powerful. So we can track a Gmail message across the internet, or even as it moves to Outlook, even when that message is decrypted or even it’s decrypted by say a hacker, in like, Russia or China. The benefit is protecting American and Puerto Rican jobs and IP. It also provides public safety for things like power grids and blackout manufacturing. The Puerto Rico 5G Zone will help encrypt, track, and manage 5G IoT data, as well as providing a base layer communication protection in apps like Gmail, Outlook and text. So we will give to companies a safe space to innovate and we will help them take those new products out into the world […] in partnership with everyone on this call and anyone that ends up joining the Puerto Rico 5G Zone. To give you an example of some of the customer integration projects that we’re already working with Indiana. There’s a smart manufacturing lab that Sean is putting together and the inaugural tenant is GE. We’re very excited about that. We’ll be part of the backbone there. There are several smart energy projects, micro grid for power resiliency, everything from your mobile generator that’s 5G and sensor enabled. To a lamppost with a battery as a 5G antenna on it. Smart resources extraction. So an oil well with 5G and sensors. Smart logistics, let’s say you’re the DOD or Amazon. Where is your inventory right now? With the Trusted Electronics lab, we’re helping them protect their their IP. But everything from secure truck contract transmissions for like mortgage companies, or trusted personal information intake for healthcare companies. These are the things are the sort of things that we’re helping with. And all this data needs to be kept safe to the public. So in closing, we’re super excited to be selected for this opportunity. And we look forward to working together with the Puerto Rico 5G Zone to increase what’s possible there.

KURT PFLUGER: Thank you, Brian. Our last speaker is actually from a Puerto Rican company that is a subcontractor to the DOB. I’d like to introduce to you Carlos Meléndez, the COO of Woveware.

CARLOS MELÉNDEZ: Thank you. Thank you, Kurt. Thank you, everyone. Wovenware is a local Puerto Rican based technology company. We got founded in 2003, actually, by Christian Gonzalez and myself, and we are an AI consultancy and software development company. Although we are based in Puerto Rico, the majority of our customers are actually in the mainland US. We have customers in Virginia, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, and a couple more states. Currently, we have more than 140 employees, all based where our office is. And we provide a platform that facilitates the complete AI development lifecycle, the artificial intelligence development lifecycle,. Which includes labeling data, creating custom model training and predictive analytics, integrating those models into production systems, and retraining them and making sure that they keep learning and performing to the specs. We have a TS/SCI facility clearance. As well as being an ADA company and a HUBZone certified company. And we work on computer grecians as a subcontractor, for a couple of agencies, including the NGA, NRO, and DOD. Some of the work that we have done has actually become either public datasets or have been very important to do certain DOD projects.

CHRISTIAN GONZALEZ: Christian Gonzalez here and a thing I want to add a little bit related to the 5G Zone. We’ve been doing a lot of work pushing AI computing to the edge. Specifically, since we’re working a lot with satellite imagery and computer vision problems, that requires a lot of processing power, even to doing Francis with with our division intelligence models. So we’re working on technology to move the inferencing to the edge. Enabling technologies like 5G are gonna help in this endeavor a lot. Especially for the warfighter that’s somewhere out there trying to get some geo intelligence, which are most of the projects that we’re working on with the NGA and NRO. So I just wanted to put that in there.

KURT PFLUGER: Great. Thank you, Christian. So that wraps up where we are in terms of hearing what’s the vision here for the 5G zone. And obviously, we have, you know, our next steps are for securing funding. We appreciate the feedback and suggestions there that may be useful. Additionally, we’ll be appointing a 5G, a PR 5G Zone director, and then securing the site location in Mayaguez. But all of this is very exciting. We have, as you’ve heard today on the call, we have an A team of folks surrounding this project, which I think will only add to the the success of this Puerto Rico 5G Zone. And I think we’re, we’re very fortunate to have all the individuals and groups that have chosen to participate and support this effort in Puerto Rico. And we appreciate Admiral Brown and, and Eric Berger, we appreciate your participation on the call today, along with Gail. Gail, thank you for joining us.

GAIL NOLAN: Thank you and as always, Admiral Brown, thank you so much for your support of Puerto Rico. And one, thank you so much for helping facilitate the call and and thank you everyone for a great conversation, it’s exciting for Puerto Rico.

EVERYONE: Thank you

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