2019 Rising Star Winner - Boingo's Derek Peterson

Derek Peterson, CTO, Boingo Wireless

The FierceWireless editorial team has done it again. We’ve selected a slate of wireless executives who are on the rise. For 2019 we’re doling out the names of our winners, two per day, so that our readers have the time to enjoy reading their profiles. Next week, we’ll post our popular Rising Stars poll, giving everyone the opportunity to vote for their favorite top executive to watch in wireless. 

Boingo CTO Derek Peterson is winning this award for a second time; FierceWireless picked him as a rising star for the first time in 2015. Back then, Boingo was in transition, with growth in its distributed antenna system business offsetting declines in its retail Wi-Fi business. Four years later, Boingo considers itself the nation’s largest operator of indoor DAS networks with 35,000 nodes deployed across 69 venues. 

Peterson said he remains focused on leveraging the power of converged networks that take advantage of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum. He also advocates appropriate sharing of radio networks, and sharing the costs and benefits of wireless network deployment.

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“It’s been kind of exciting to see, over the last five years as we’ve been pushing this, to see people finally starting to recognize that a collaborative, convergence approach is really the right approach for all of us,” Peterson said. 

RELATED: Boingo hits milestone with 10 new DAS buildouts in Q2

Peterson learned about radio technology in the Air Force, where he built radios for critical communications during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He says the experience taught him that even in the modern age, miscommunication between individuals can lead to massive geo-political conflicts.

“My personal drive is to try to make the communication global so that we’re all working together, so we’re communicating and preventing conflicts, as well as making sure that as we build these networks we make them part of our lives instead of losing ourselves to them,” Peterson said. “I think our first life needs to be enhanced by our digital life.”

Peterson merged his first life with his digital life several years ago by having an NFC chip implanted into his hand and then swiping his hand instead of his badge to enter booths at an industry trade show. The chip is still there, and Peterson said he can use it to unlock doors and start his car. 

Going forward, Peterson said personal data protection is a major focus for him. He believes people should understand when, where and why their data is being shared, and he’s working across industries to create a framework for “meaningful and protected” data sharing.

“We really should be making people aware of how we’re using that data, why we’re using that data, and then enabling them to be able to see that,” Peterson said.

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