For WBA members and partners, Chris Bruce needs very little introduction. The former Chairman and Co-Chair of the organization has more than 25 years of experience in the Wi-Fi, mobility and telecoms space, and after several years at BT, he has recently moved onto the next chapter of his career at GlobalReach Technology. We had the opportunity to sit down with Chris and ask him a few questions about GlobalReach, his new position, and next week’s Wireless Global Congress event in London.
Can you talk about your new role with GlobalReach, and share some information about the company’s offerings?
I started as Managing Director at GlobalReach in September, and in a way, it feels like coming home to the Wi-Fi business. I’d previously had a great career at BT, but I’ve come to realize that I have a real passion for carrier Wi-Fi, and GlobalReach is a company that I’ve been familiar with for many years. It has some great experts and technology, and I don’t think there’s another company in the ecosystem that can do what GlobalReach does for operators in the Wi-Fi space. Essentially, our aim is to help operators deliver a great user experience in terms of connecting to Wi-Fi and having a great experience once connected.
Have their been any significant challenges during your transition at GlobalReach, and if so, how have you approached them?
Change can be exciting but it can also be challenging, and leaving a large company like BT after many years, you might expect that working for a smaller software company would be a very big change for me. But actually, it reminds me of my days at Openzone, which was a standalone smaller business unit at BT. From that point of view, the size of the company hasn’t been a challenge.
As a company, the biggest challenge that GlobalReach faces is the demand for its services. In my first few weeks here, I’ve had countless meetings with current and potential customers, and I believe it’s good for the ecosystem that there’s a growing and unsatisfied demand for connectivity as well as for carrier grade Wi-Fi services being available to end-users.
With 2018 soon coming to an end, what does GlobalReach have planned for 2019 and beyond?
2018 has been a great year for GlobalReach, and there’s a number of great things that we hope to build on moving forward. We deployed Wi-Fi as part of the LinkNYC kiosks initiative in Manhattan, and we’re seeing upwards of 20 million connections at these kiosks per week. This initiative will be rolled out in two more U.S. cities soon, and we’re expecting more to be added. In addition, we’ve deployed Wi-Fi for a major U.S. coffee shop chain in 8,000 stores across the country, and we’ve also deployed Wi-Fi in two airlines in the Middle East and Latin America.
Looking towards next year, we want to build on our strengths as a leader in authentication. We absolutely believe in and are driving frictionless, seamless and secure connections through Hotspot 2.0. And we want to give our customers – the carrier and the enterprise – the ability to differentiate their products, customize their services and have control of analytics so that they can engage users and improve services. We’re further expanding across the U.S., and we have deployments in continental Europe rolling out through Proximus and a partner in Germany. We’ve also made great strides in southeast Asia in our partnership with Telecom Malaysia. It’s a great growth story, and one that I think is very much aligned with the WBA.
GlobalReach has been an enthusiastic participant and sponsor of the Wireless Global Congress for many years. What are you looking forward to in particular at next week’s event in London?
For me personally, it feels great to be coming back – even though I’ve hardly been away! I had been representing BT on the WBA’s Board, which I had done for nearly 10 years as the Chair and Co-Chair. I stepped down from that position when I left BT, but it’s great to be back so soon as part of GlobalReach. Chris Spencer, our CTO, is very active in several WBA workgroups and in Mark Carter, who also joined this year, we have another active contributor to the WBA. We want to continue being a significant contributor to the WBA as we see this completely aligns with our mission to make Wi-Fi access simple, seamless and secure. We’re also participating in the Next Generation Hotspot deployment that will be live at the event for all attendees, and we think it’s a significant part of our role in the ecosystem to be a part of this exciting program. Ultimately, we’re looking forward to meeting existing and new customers and partners, and this is one of the things I love about the WBA and its events; it’s made up of companies of all sizes and offers an integrated approach to the ecosystem.