Asha Keddy: “We’ve seen how important it is to be able work and learn virtually and remotely”

We’ve seen how important it is to be able work and learn virtually and remotely. 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi have been instrumental in enabling broadband access for us, wherever we might be. And these technologies were instrumental in enabling children everywhere to have better and easier access to distance learning. Moving forward, one key benefit […]

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We’ve seen how important it is to be able work and learn virtually and remotely. 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi have been instrumental in enabling broadband access for us, wherever we might be. And these technologies were instrumental in enabling children everywhere to have better and easier access to distance learning. Moving forward, one key benefit of 5G and advanced Wi-Fi will be private wireless networks. These networks will leverage the same fundamental technologies and global economies of scale as the billions of laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices that we use to access the internet today. I suspect this model will continue to be used in the future. This same technology will make hybrid work models (a mix of work-from-home and office) much easier to manage.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingAsha R. Keddy. She serves as Corporate Vice President at Intel Corporation, responsible for next generation technology and standards. In this role, she is tasked with forging the new technologies, business use cases, and partnerships that are ushering in the era of 5G wireless and connected compute. With more 20 years of experience in the wireless, mobile broadband and computing , Ms. Keddy guides Intel’s efforts in developing future products involving the convergence of communications, computing and artificial intelligence, as well as defining future networks that will enable a range of industrial, enterprise and consumer applications. Ms. Keddy is also responsible for Intel’s contributions to industry standards including the company’s leadership in 3GPP, IEEE, and multiple industry fora. She speaks frequently on a broad array of topics related on the acceleration of future network transformation by 5G, AI, edge computing and the IoT, as well as diversity and inclusion in the high-tech workforce. Ms. Keddy holds multiple patents, a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai and a master’s degree in computer science from Clemson University.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I believe I’m one of those increasingly rare individuals that has built their career at a single organization. While I did lead software development teams earlier in my career, I’ve spent the majority of my time at Intel and the majority of that time focused on building the future of wireless communications technologies. In the context of my business unit, Next Generation and Standards, our vision is a world where computing intelligence is available wherever and whenever it’s needed. Without getting too technical, this means creating highly distributed computing architectures that are spread over great distances — literally the entire planet. This probably sounds impossible, but that is the kind of project scope that really sets my passions alight. Doing the impossible (or at least very improbable) is what I signed up for here at Intel.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of my favorite stories is a valuable lesson that I learned, mainly through a combination of naivety and stubbornness. Early in my career, in the beginning of real commercialization of Wi-Fi and wireless communications, and my team and I were working on some new features in Wi-Fi. Specifically, we were working on wireless testing and I didn’t like the options we had raised. Unbeknownst to me, our technical lead had a very specific process he wanted implemented, but since he was out, we decided to white-board some new ideas and a new approach to the problems we faced.

The result was an entirely new paradigm for how Wi-Fi was tested. It really put me on my wireless journey. It also taught me a couple things. First, senior folks don’t always have the best answer. And second, that you shouldn’t always take “no” for an answer.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Instead of a quote that I follow, I think of one that whose outcome I would like to avoid. To wit, when you’re working at the cutting edge of technology, as my business unit does daily, you’re really treading in unknown waters. As a result, I have a great deal of freedom to try new things, which maps perfectly with my personal approach to improvement and growth. I do not want to share Mr. Frost’s regrets in “The Road Not Taken” — we should be taking risks to discover new things. As if that results, in a setback, we need to be resilient enough to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off to move forward once again. This is just as important in life as it is in business — perhaps more so!

Of course, while I’m passionate about taking risks, we still need to measure success and be honest with ourselves about progress. That means we need to ID which solutions are, in fact, “moving the needle” and be prepared to pivot from approaches that are not contributing value.

Our business unit’s work in 5G is a great example. There is a great deal of joy in discovering new things, but we want to ensure they have long-term viability as well. That means focusing on what you’re good at, both as a leader and as an organization. If you lean on your strengths, you can mask and give yourself time to improve your weaknesses. I believe Intel’s technological strengths and scope have really shown through in our ability to provide leadership in the 5G arena.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Honestly, I’m very lucky to say there are almost too many to count. It really does take a village to build all of us. In my career, I’ve had both mentors and advocates. These are truly different roles. A good mentor will encourage you and help you focus. An advocate is just as important but is very valuable, particularly in an organization the size of Intel. But when I really look back to my foundation, I think of my grandmother. She only received the equivalent of a third grade education, but she taught me so much about how to live my life. Her struggles in the honor/shame society in which she was raised made her achievements all the more impressive.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

From a professional perspective, I think helping to develop the advanced communications technologies that we use today has been of immense benefit to society. The democratization of information, the ability to extend educational opportunities (particularly during the pandemic), enabling new healthcare applications, and creating new opportunities for economic development are all enabled by wireless communications.

I am passionate about increasing representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the workplace. I live and breathe this truth every day in both my professional and personal lives. That means having inclusiveness integrated into the way we do business, including hiring, promotions, etc.

My most recent example of working on this problem would be spearheading the UPWARD U.N.I.T.E.S. (Universities Networking with Intel for Tomorrow’s Engineering and Sciences) Women program with Santa Clara University (SCU). This is a new program to not only build a community of women in STEM but to create ongoing resources to increase diversity and inclusion in these critical fields.

The goal of this program is to help address these challenges by building a supportive community for women engineers and scientists that will enable them to lead more fulfilling and productive technical careers. This means building and strengthening the network program participants by bringing them together for mentorship, professional development and technical education. Ultimately, the aim is to build a supportive community and longevity for all current and future women in STEM fields.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

With 5G dominating the global conversation around wireless, it’s often easy to lose sight of future investment in innovation. After all, 5G is still just exiting “childhood” in terms of its ubiquity and impact on both consumers and businesses. However, I think the most exciting near-term application for 5G and advanced wireless communications is something known as a “private network,” which leverages the deterministic capabilities of new wireless technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi6.

Thanks to advances in wireless communications, but also to new bands of spectrum that have recently been made available to businesses, organizations are able to create private networks that deliver new capabilities. An easy way to think of it would be that these organizations have their own wireless networks using cellular technologies, but without the need for a large wireless operator’s public network. The organization in question — be it a hospital, factory, smart city, or business campus — would operate this network within the geographic confines of its property.

Within this network, that organization can leverage the deterministic properties of new wireless technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi6 for a completely new class of applications. By determinism, we mean that these wireless signals are highly reliable and are guaranteed to perform at a certain level, all the time, every time. These wireless technologies are being used now to communicate and guide robotics, Autonomous vehicles, healthcare communications and factory applications for physical safety, predictive maintenance, and product quality.

However, these are just the beginning. In a world without wires, new ways of doing old things are possible. Automated smart city infrastructure. Remote-controlled cranes and construction equipment. World-class surgeons performing delicate operations from hundreds of miles away.

How do you think this might change the world?

To be honest, it’s already changing it today and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I believe many of these applications will require fundamental rethinking of how we do business. Imagine a factory with equipment that doesn’t need any wires and can be reconfigured for almost any application overnight. That kind of flexibility changes global economics.

The most important part to realize is that this is just the beginning. Even as the world is just beginning to reap the benefits of 5G innovation, it is imperative that we, as an industry, continue to invest in, explore, and advance wireless technology as a whole. Already a critical element in the fabric of business and society, mobility’s importance will only continue to grow as we address issues of global importance, including sustainability, digital transformation, and the ability to augment human intelligence itself

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Like any tool, it’s all about how new communications technology is employed. We, as a society, need to ask ourselves the hard questions and anticipate how this could potentially be abused. That will require a focus on equality and transparency in mind as we move forward.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The tipping point for continuing advancement of wireless communications a whole was passed long ago, but for this new era of deterministic wireless solutions, I think a number of other megatrends needed to also advance. The Internet of Things, AI, and distributed computing architectures like the cloud and Edge Computing are all part of the organic growth of this new world.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

We’ve seen how important it is to be able work and learn virtually and remotely. 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi have been instrumental in enabling broadband access for us, wherever we might be. And these technologies were instrumental in enabling children everywhere to have better and easier access to distance learning. Moving forward, one key benefit of 5G and advanced Wi-Fi will be private wireless networks. These networks will leverage the same fundamental technologies and global economies of scale as the billions of laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices that we use to access the internet today. I suspect this model will continue to be used in the future. This same technology will make hybrid work models (a mix of work-from-home and office) much easier to manage.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would return to my earlier comments about championing diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. First off, let me note that much of the technology sector has been at the forefront of solving society’s most significant challenges and facilitating greater opportunity. As the world’s leading technologists and data scientists, we have a unique ability to help shape a better, more inclusive future. If we think about 5G for example, the end result of widely adopted advanced wireless technologies will be a fully connected, mobile and intelligent society. However, one of the most important ways we can bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people is by addressing the digital divide. And my corner of the technology industry has already begun to innovate on the business case for improving access to connectivity.

For example, there are a few key features of 5G that may make it more likely to be adopted more uniformly than previous generations– ultimately bringing the benefits of connectivity to more communities around the world. First, we know 5G architecture lowers the cost per bit. In other words, 1GB costs less to send over 5G than it does over 4G. This could have big implications for digital inclusion. In addition, 5G architecture gives rise to more flexible ways of deploying wireless network infrastructure. This can create new revenue opportunities for municipalities, enterprises, or even give rise to new business models for entrepreneurs. If we do our work well, 5G will not just be a product, it will be an accelerant to help communities do better, farmers, health care providers, educators, and households.

However, addressing the digital divide and ensuring equity is multifaceted; it requires collaboration to enable connectivity, access to devices, content, and education and training for all. So, in addition to technology innovation for improving access to connectivity, Intel is also working with governments and industry leaders to help connect the world’s most vulnerable. We do this through work with the U.N. Broadband Commission, and through our commitments to making technology fully inclusive and expanding digital readiness through our company RISE 2030 goals.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow me online via Twitter at @AshaKeddy and my writing at Intel Blogs

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


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