The Silicon Review
Traditionally, gathering information about the wireless RF spectrum required a trained engineer to sit in front of a spectrum analyzer staring at squiggly lines on a screen. But, some forward-thinking minds saw an opportunity to automate and simplify this process by combining their expertise in RF engineering with a machine learning engine and founded Digital Global Systems (DGS) in 2013.
Over time, the company patented several techniques to analyze and classify signals at the point of intercept, reducing the need to send large amounts of information to a data center over an expensive network connection for later analysis. Its edge processing capability initially provided automated alerts in near real-time for the telecom market, assisting with spectrum de-confliction and interference management.
As DGS added capabilities to its deep learning engine, it found that it was very good at detecting other anomalous signals, such as jammers and drones. And this has led to DGS’ current platform, which can optimize the RF environment and help with frequency coordination and wireless operations, as well as provide RF situational awareness by detecting signals that are not common to an environment and present a threat.
“Since we’re processing these signals in the node at the point of intercept, we provide near real-time actionable data to the user,” says Fernando Murias, Chairman, and CEO of Digital Global Systems.
Over the years, the company has gained tremendous popularity in the industry. In just the past 3 years DGS has been awarded 32 patents for the advancement of spectrum monitoring and RF data management.
Interview Snippet with the CEO of Digital Global Systems, Fernando Murias:
Q. What challenges did you face in the initial years of the company?
Given the explosive growth we saw coming in the wireless market, our biggest challenge was convincing the market of the need for continuous monitoring of the RF spectrum. Changing methodologies and using new technology can be uncomfortable unless there is a burning platform forcing the change. We were also a new company advocating a new approach with new technology. We filed and received 32 issued patents and strategically teamed with global marquee brands. This approach helped us gain credibility quickly.
In addition, the growing threat to critical assets posed by drones created the burning platform we needed to leverage for continuous RF monitoring.
Q. How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
Our first large-scale deployment was with a telecom carrier, assisting with their small cell planning. In this case, we’re capturing signals information away from the macro tower at the user level, and we’re able to provide extremely granular information about optimal small cell antenna placement that provides better coverage for users and lowers the deployment cost for the carrier.
We had executive buy-in from the CIO, so this helped position our solution across the company. Given that there’s an objective cost saving by reducing the number of antennas deployed, as well as operational improvements from successfully offloading traffic from the macro towers, we feel this is expandable to other carriers worldwide.
Q. Building a culture of sustainability inside an organization is very important to maintain a reputation in the global market. How is it true for your company?
At Digital Global Systems, our reputation is extremely important. We start by clearly defining to customers what we do, and more importantly, what we don’t do. Our engineers regularly debrief our sales teams to ensure they know, in detail, how features work. This helps prevent overselling our capabilities and lets us become better advisors to our customers. Our employees know that once we accept an engagement with a customer, we will do whatever it takes to be successful and our customers have come to know that as well.
Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?
Trust is gained over time. Employees who have been around me know that I will do exactly what I say I will do. And new employees, who might initially be skeptical, quickly learn this both from me and longer-term employees.
We at Digital Global Systems also have a culture of open communication, both within and across departments. So, people can talk to anybody about anything and it breaks down barriers and creates a more trusting environment.
Q. ‘Leaders cannot optimize results by themselves; they need employees’ support and assistance.’ How does your company interpret this saying?
We have a culture of leaders not asking things of their employees that they wouldn’t do themselves. Our employees see firsthand the long hours, including weekends and holidays that our leadership team works to satisfy our customers. We don’t require any employee to work these extra hours, but we often get a lot of volunteers. There is a sense of “we’re all part of the same team, working for the same goal” that’s exciting to watch.
Q. Is Digital Global Systems a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’? Do you formulate your own core values?
We are thought leaders, as we’re developing innovative technologies that solve customer business problems in new ways. This is represented by our ever-growing patent portfolio. We have regular meetings where sales will tell engineering about specific challenges that customers are experiencing. Engineering then huddles and comes back with technical solutions that are far in advance of current market capabilities.
The Future Vision
Looking into the future, Digital Global Systems is expected to have a strong impact on the global rollout of small cells and 5G, as well as mitigating the evolving threat to human life posed by drones used for illicit activities. The company’s solutions are highly scalable globally and will play an important role as IoT gains traction and continues to change how people live.
Meet the Leader
Fernando Murias is the Chairman and CEO of Digital Global Systems. Prior to DGS, hewas the Managing Partner of the Greater Washington Area for PwC with 35 years of experience in the Telecom and Government Contracting industries.