🔥Upside Chat: Pete DeNagy, 5G/WiFi 6 Expert, President of IOT America & Former GM of Samsung Enterprise

🔥Upside Chat: Pete DeNagy, 5G/WiFi 6 Expert, President of IOT America & Former GM of Samsung Enterprise

This week we had the honor to interview Pete DeNagy, President of Acommence advisors, and founder of IOT America. Pete is also the former GM of Samsung enterprise.

📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on his background, his view on the top 5G/WIFI 6 use cases in sports stadiums, the biggest benefits he sees for teams to use 5G/WIFI 6. He also gave his view on how 5G/WIFI 6 can help teams better stay connected to their fans. Lastly we discussed 6G and the killer use cases there.

🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Pete:

  1. On how he started his career in pro sports: “So this happens to be my 38th year in communications mobile and IoT. I have a background in consulting. I worked previously for both Accenture and Capgemini. I’ve also worked in systems integration with EDS carriers. I worked with GTE, Harris and Global Crossing and of course as you had mentioned I was the General Manager of Enterprise for the United States Samsung. I actually helped write Samsung’s global strategy for enterprise mobility”.
  2. On XR (Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality) as a key 5G, WiFi-6 use case in sports stadiums: “From a use case perspective aside from connectivity, I think the great use case is the XR use case in sports. And what I mean by XR is that we have all heard of virtual reality and augmented reality. I think we’re going to actually see the melding of the two so that fans can go forward, look on the field and actually see augmentation in real time with statistics. So you’ll get the live action experience of being at the stadium, as well as all the graphical capabilities that you get from being at home. So if you watch an NFL game and you see the painted lines per se on the field on your TV set, of course they’re not there in reality, but they are an augmentation of reality that’s presented to you on the TV screen. Well with 5G or with WiFi-6 you’re now going to be able to use your phone or going to be able to use AR glasses or you’re actually going to be able to use XR glasses which have both virtual and augmented capabilities to go forward and get that exact same experience like you would get on your TV set. You’ll be able to see the real time statistics, the percentages, the analytics like you would in the home experience, yet have the robust luster of being at the game which is not something that you can recreate at home or in a restaurant”.
  3. On the need to have HIPPA compliance to enable live 5G enabled gambling with players’ live biometric data (HR, hydration..) in the future: “So gambling is a huge driver in all this. One of the concerns of course for the biometric statistics, you’re going to have to get player’s consent. Different nations have different rules and in the United States of course there are the HIPPA rules. So the HIPPA rules will actually be applicable on a player by player basis being able to present their individual biometric statistics in a public manner. Some players will opt in and some players will not”.
  4. On the new use cases that 5G/WiFi 6 will enhance starting with the customer experience (e.g. ordering, concierge services..) in stadiums: There is the customer intimacy aspect of 5G and WiFi-6. You will have the ability to go forward and provide IoT use cases in the stadium itself for the seating, for ordering, for concierge services, for attendance, for maintenance. Case in point.. You can do this today. You can actually put in sensors in the men’s and the women’s rest facilities per se to see if they need servicing, but one of the things also that you can do is you can track, you can have wearables that are mobile applications for the spectator so you can actually track their motion from within the stadium. What percentage of the time are they sitting? What percentage of the time are they at the bar? What percentage of the time are they in the concourse, where are they spending their dollars? Are they going to go to food concessions, to gift concessions, to clothing concessions? Are they doing activities and games with their children? These things are all available with 5G and WiFi-6. You can architect them directly onto their mobile devices and there are wearables. So I think it’s really important to look at that because at that point the fan experience is much more than just watching the game. The fan experience is actually going out to as they say in baseball, the ball park”.
  5. On his advice to pro teams and leagues looking to deploy 5G/WiFi 6: “That’s a tremendous question. So the first thing is I would look to architect a system that affords connectivity to whatever service provider is out there. So with 5G of course as we all know carriers bid on spectrum, on specific frequencies to deliver their signal. So they get licenses on regions, areas or nations to go deliver a signal. Therefore it’s really incumbent for the stadium owner to design the distributed antenna system in the stadium to go and support all of the carriers that actually will go forward and utilize that venue. So case in point Verizon could come in, in the United States and deploy a distributed antenna system or a microcell system for 5G and it shuts out T-Mobile and AT&T and that would be bad. So the stadium owner needs to take control of it. Secondarily for a stadium owner there is a trend for private LTE and 5G where actually they own the infrastructure and by owning the infrastructure they can actually deploy what’s called a neutral host and in the neutral host they basically provide the ubiquitous connectivity to all the carriers. And in essence they create a roaming agreement with all the carriers so they can actually share in the revenue stream for each cell call, each data connection. I think that’s really going to be important in that”.
  6. On the benefits of using WiFI 6: “WiFi-6 has some really nice incumbent benefits. One WiFi-6 affords giggy connectivity and secondly from the AP perspective you actually get a four full distance gain, or more. Right now a WiFi AP using WiFi-5 goes about 150 to 200 meters. A WiFi-6 AP has four times the connectivity, has better channel management, has better battery management and can go up to about 1,000 meters. So that works out really well. It also addresses IoT devices so you can signal out channels for better battery usage. One other thing that the WiFi-6 scenario provides is that WiFi-6 has the ability to do WiFi backhaul, which means that you can mesh the AP’s to in essence you provide the WiFi backhaul from the near end to a far end in a chain of AP’s. This means that you can more efficiently utilize the back bandwidth through that. One of the things that’s of course important in all of this is you need WiFi-6 and, or 5G endpoints and the vast majority of mobile devices carried by consumers today don’t have 5G on them and won’t have 5G on them or WiFi-6 for the very near future. From what I understand we’re going to start seeing commercially deployed WiFi-6 endpoints in the market towards the end of the year. They’re building them in. So you’re not going to see a lot of your consumers yet have 5G and, or WiFi-6 devices in their hands in any type of scale until the beginning of 2022”.
  7. On the preferred use cases for WiFi-6 Vs uses cases for 5G: “People like Ericsson and Nokia, Samsung, LG in Europe and Asia CTE and HUAWEI are deploying 5G and they’re all talking about private LTE. And owning the infrastructure and the cases therein. What I think you’re going to see is stadium owners forced to do both the WiFi-6 and 5G. So the WiFi-6 will be a deployment that will be less costly than an LTE or a 5G deployment. You’re not looking at a core or a virtualized core or a VRAM and an open RAM type of deployment as microcells. You’re just putting up AP, WiFi APs and you don’t have to put up as many of them. I mean you do have to and look at them from a density perspective and a peak performance perspective. But the downside of WiFi-6 is the fact that when you go forward and you address the connectivity to the AP even though you have four times the capacity that you had before, you still have the problems of running it out. However, the benefits of 5G and the benefits of WiFi-6 are actually pretty closely aligned when it comes to connectivity, with regard to the endpoint. And as a matter of fact there are a lot of initiatives that talk about integrating WiFi-6 and 5G where strategies are that WiFi-6 will end up doing the voiceover IP connectivity to the endpoint and then integrating to the 5G ran core scenario to do the backhaul. It’s very interesting. 5G of course provides some really good security capabilities. Some really good channel capabilities. The channel slicing is interesting in 5G. There are a lot of upsides for doing 5G as well. 5G is going to cost more money than WiFi-6”.
  8. On the likely emergence of 5G enabled sponsored data with premium content: “I think with 5G you’re going to see a lot of sponsored data with premium content coming into 5G enabled mobile devices whereas you have a data plan and you would have it capped, but with the sponsored data the data price would then be covered by the content issuer. So I think you’ll see a lot of those plans coming out as well. The other thing that you can do is you’ll also be able to, with 5G and WiFi-6 in the stadium itself, from an LBS perspective or a location perspective, push data in real time to the end user. You’re going to see those types of premium services as well and you’re going to do those services in conjunction with the carrier and of course money”.
  9. On why VR is a killer app in the world of social distancing with COVID-19 today: “VR is absolutely going to be, in a socially distant world, a killer app. One thing I didn’t mention I’m on the board of a VR company MindVR for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The problem with VR today is that VR is not a real time experience. You must cache the video, store the video and then replay the video and the audio. Otherwise if you do it in real time, your connectivity must be ubiquitous and at high speed without interruption. Otherwise you get the delay, the fade, the jitter and there are actually physical problems associated with VR”.
  10. On 6G and the killer use cases: “The good news is that there are a lot of thoughts being going into 6G right now. It’s all academic. Several universities, the University of Oulu also is working on it. They’re in Finland. So if you’re going to ask who’s going to do 6G first, I’m going to tell you it’s going to be either Sweden or Finland and the reason that I say Sweden or Finland is because in Finland Nokia has it headquarters there, and Sweden has Ericsson. So I think they are leading the research. But with the 6G deployments I think you are looking at a lot more contextual awareness. You’re looking at a lot more human machine interface. The target date for 6G is 2030. It’s 10 years away. 1G emerged in 1985, 2G was in 1993, 3G was in 2005, 4G was in 2011 and then so here we are, we’re in 2020 and we’re doing 5G. So it’s pretty much every 10 years”.
🔐The Sports Blockchain Market

🔐The Sports Blockchain Market

From activity and performance tools to..gaming and bets tools .

Over the past few years there has been a lot of activities in the sports blockchain market. The idea here is to use blockchain in sports to make stadiums safer, more secure, prevent frauds (e.g. tickets), better handle DRM issues, and more. We will provide more details on that in the following sections.

But first, how big is blockchain from an investment standpoint?

As we noted before, in terms of VC investment trends, as shown in the table below, according to Crunchbase, last year in the first five months into 2018, reported dollar volume invested in VC rounds raised by blockchain companies surpassed 2017’s totals. Back then the nearly $1.3B in global dollar volume was greater than the reported funding totals for the 18 months between July 1, 2016 and New Years Eve in 2017.

Source: Crunchbase

As shown in the table below, the most well funded blockchain startups include companies like Circle ($136M), Coinbase ($117M), 21Inc ($116M), Ripple ($94M) just to name a few.

Some blockchain startups also raised significant of money through IPOs. This is the case of Cayman Islands start-up Block.one which raised $4B, eclipsing the world’s biggest initial public offerings this year and more than doubling the next biggest offering of that type.

In the past few years we have seen a lot of activities in the investor community towards sports blockchain startups. Why? Simply because, as shown in the table below, blockchain technology can be used in the world of sports for a myriad of purposes such as activity & performance, management & organization, media/DRM & fans, gaming & betting.

Now let’s dig into the various subsegments of the sports blockchain market:

  1. Blockchain based sports activity and performance tools:

There is a growing number of blockchain startups focusing on this blockchain based sports activity and performance markets. Those include companies like DYNOLympoPlaytnessUfitySweatcoin, just to name a few.

For example, DYNO has built a blockchain based marketplace for user driven sports and metabolic data. DYNO started with their own analytical devices and will open the DYNO ecosystem to all third-party tracking and fitness devices.

Picture: Dyno

Playtness, another key player in this subsegment, is taking a different approach as it is tokenizing the world of fitness by creating an ecosystem for its members, powered by smart contracts. Using the Playtness platform and its built-in reward mechanisms, the fitness industry is able to interact and transact in a way that creates incentives for its users through the use of PT tokens.

Picture: Lympo

Lympo aspires to revolutionise the healthy lifestyle ecosystem through monetisation of user-generated data via blockchain to reward users by offering incentives and supplementing health insurance to inspire a healthy society.

Picture: Lympo

Companies like Ufity and Sweatcoin are other key players in this subsegment. They are essentially offering a fitness app where users can convert physical activities (steps, calories burnt..) to earn bitcoins and purchase various offers.

Picture: Sweatcoin

⬆️ The Upside: While we believe that the Blockchain based sports activity and performance market is showing great promise, we think that this segment is still in its infancy. In our opinion, the benefits and rewards provided by companies like Sweatcoin and Ufity are also not compelling enough which is why many users are dropping off after a while.

  1. Blockchain based management and organizational tools:

Another key interesting subsegment of the sports blockchain market is comprised of companies that are building Blockchain based management and organizational toolsKey players in this space include companies like GlobatalentInooviLFEPeerspointSports Technology GroupSportyCo.

For example, Inoovi built a platform powered by the famous Blockchain that prides itself as a way to support all next Football Players Champions transfers and supporters experiences. Two Brazlian football clubs, Atletico-PR and the Corinthians, have signed deals with Inoovi. Several European clubs (Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, and Shakhtar Donetsk) are in talks with Inoovi as well.

Picture: Inoovi, Atletico-PR

Globatalent is another player in the space. Unlike Inoovi, Globatalent is focusing on revenue rights. To enable this, it built a blockchain decentralization platform which allows clubs and players to attain funding by selling future revenue rights to fans worldwide. The investment process is automated with the help of Smart Contracts that use Blockchain Technology. This ensures token trading in a fast, secure way.

Picture: Globatalent

SportyCo is another key player in the space. They introduced a brand new industry of sports crowd micro-financing while providing athletes, clubs, and sports organizations with macro-funding on their respective end. Moreover, SportyCo is enabling a direct financial link between the participants on both respective ends. Blockchain-based, low in transaction costs, introducing smart contracts into the world of sport, as well as the use of DAO voting, will be the key elements.

It is worth pointing out that the startup is supported by star soccer players like Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Luis Figo, just to name a few.

Picture: Sportyco

Other companies like Peerspoint are using blockchain technology to ensure personal ownership and validation of sport data as well as allow access to a global ecosystem of peers and benefits. Their ecosystem delivers a sum of benefits attached to their LaaS: Players, Clubs, Coaches, Medical Staff, Volunteers, Leagues, Federations, Sponsors, Parents, Family, Friends, Fans, Intermediaries and more.

Lastly, Sports Technology Group (STG) future-proofs sports teams, organizations, and leagues by building their entire technology stack on blockchain technology. From internal operations to fan experiences and engagement, the ultimate goal is to ensure that data will be able to speak to each other, so that every future investment will work seamlessly together in real-time.

Picture: Sports Athlete Manager, a sports blockchain system powered by STG.

⬆️ The Upside: In our view, the Blockchain based management and organizational market is another interesting area. The challenge there is that many pro teams, leagues are using their own management and organizational tools. This is why we believe that for the key blockchain startups in this space it might be worth looking into partnering or licensing their technologies to the existing tech players in this place to gain great traction.

  1. Blockchain based media and fans tools:

The blockchain based media and fans tools is another interesting subsegment. The key players in this growing space are Fan360FanchainJetcoinScorumSportCoStargraphTokenStars, just to name a few.

For exampleFanChain provides a framework in which fans are rewarded with a token that can be used within the sports ecosystem to which they contribute, and creates a feedback loop that incentivizes the community to contribute to the social conversation that they rely on for an optimal sports experience. FanChain introduces the concept of “Mints,” which allow third-party entities to distribute FanChain tokens that are stamped with a specific sports team, league or event. FanChain also built SportsCastr, a live streaming video platform that lets anybody in the world choose the SportsCastr or be the SportsCastr. Over the years, the startup has gained strong traction. In fact, it is also worth pointing out that Super Bowl XLVIII Champion and four-time pro bowler Richard Sherman has joined the company as an official brand ambassador. It also received investment from the NFLPA, and teamed up with the WNBA Players Association.

Picture: SportsCastr, powered by FanChain.

Other startups like Fan360 have built a sports fan community platform which enables fans to follow their favourite sports star, club or brand and get rewarded with FAN token for every action (e.g. like, share, content contribution) on the platform. Fans collect them through a transparent bIockchain system, and can exchange them for special experience, merchandise, tickets or fiat money.

Picture: Fan360

Other startups like Scorum provides cryptocurrency rewards for both content creators and curators. Concretly, community members get paid for publishing posts, voting, commenting and uploading photos.

Other companies like Stargraph have leveraged blockchain to build an App that allows to receive authentic and personalized Stargraph autographs if you participate in major events such as concerts, matches, Formula1 and MotoGP races. Exclusive assets with real value backed by Blockchain technology.

Picture: Stargraph

Lastly, TokenStars, another key player in the space, has built a blockchain based celebrity management platform, providing advanced tools and incentives for deeper interaction between stars, fans, and advertisers. Their utility token can be used in most of the interaction activities powered by the TokenStars platform, including providing incentives to fans and external agents for finding promising talents (scouts), making betting bids, and so on.

⬆️ The Upside: In our view, the Blockchain based media and fans market is also in its early days. The key to success for many of the startups in this space will be to provide compelling rewards. This will make their offering sticky and increase the daily usage rate. Companies like FanChain are already taking the lead and gaining significant traction.

  1. Blockchain based games and bets platforms:

Over the years, gaming and betting has become another key component of the sports experience. This is another area where blockchain can have a key role. Blockchain startups like BetOnChartDreamTeamFansUniteFootballcoinRonaldinho Soccer CoinSocios, among others, intend to become top players there and disrupt the sports gaming and betting industry.

For example, BetOnChart built a blockchain platform combining highly profitable in-play sports betting with the dynamics of a live match. Modern technologies and the latest advancements in the field of AI allow us to recreate a football match in the form of a chart that moves up or down depending on the current field situation.

DreamTeam is another key player in this space. They essentially built an infrastructure platform and payment gateway for esports and gaming. As an all-in-one platform, DreamTeam will securely connect all gamers, teams, sponsors, advertisers and tournaments; enabling mutual economic transactions within one global esports ecosystem.

Footballcoin is a football manager game platform using blockchain technology and issuing an own cryptocurrency (XFC) with the mission is to bring the advantages of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to Football Manager and Fantasy Sports users. FansUnite is created by bettors, for bettors, and was founded with the mission to improve conditions for sports bettors everywhere. They aims at revolutionizing the sports betting industry by harnessing the power of blockchain technology to provide cheaper, more secure, verifiable and transparent betting.

Lastly Socios built a scalable, tokenized voting platform where fans can buy, trade & execute voting or ‘crowd managers’ rights in their favorite football teams. Powered by the chiliZ fintech platform & $CHZ token.

Bottom line: We believe that we are still in the early stage of the sports blockchain market. As we noted previously there is a great opportunity to use blockchain in sports to make stadiums safer, more secure, prevent frauds (e.g. tickets), better handle DRM issues, and more. However, like any new emerging technologies that aims at impacting the world of sports, it comes down to enabling teams, leagues to receive tangible value and ROIs. In our view, this will make or break the future of the sports blockchain space.

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