5G industry news Telecommunications Tech | Backhaul

Telecoms Trailblazers: A day in the life of Maria Lema

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 8 Feb 2023
  • Last modified 8 Feb 2023
The latest in the Telecom Trailblazers series.

Hello, I’m Maria Lema and I am a co-founder of Weaver Labs, a B2B tech start-up building an open marketplace of telecommunications assets. We pride ourselves on offering a decentralised infrastructure powered by owners of infrastructure, with an extensive focus on security and accelerating innovation through connectivity.

Currently, we are participating in REASON, a FONRC project funded by DCMS. It is developing a roadmap for open 6G networks. It plans to provide novel solutions to effectively integrate multi-technology access networks and advance their performance in line with the emerging 6G KPIs. We have also been involved with one of the 5G CREATE projects, which delivered the 5G private network for traffic control in July 2022; and the FRANC projects, focusing on cybersecurity and delivering application software for Open RAN. 

Weaver Labs was born out of the 5GTT programme. After I finished my PhD, I was responsible for technical operations in the 5G Tactile Internet Lab at Kings College London, one of the UK5G testbed DCMS projects in collaboration with The University of Bristol and Surrey. We learned how to test and commercialise 5G use cases, gaining experience in deploying and managing a network; it became obvious fairly quickly that technical advancements would help solve supply chain inefficiencies to deliver 5G for enterprises and consumers and so, I gathered some team members and decided to branch out and create an app. 

My role is to align the commercial, operational and technical activities of the company, building long-term strategy and business development to bring our product Cell-Stack to market. We are a small team with distinct roles, ranging from development and commercial to operational and marketing. I spend most of the working week sitting at my desk on calls, so I always end my day with some exercise, typically Crossfit. Even when I do “clock off” though, my mind is constantly churning, thinking about the ecosystem and how we can better adapt and improve to people’s needs.

1. What do you enjoy most about working in this space? 

The collaborative nature of it. There is a range of industries working in this space and telecoms are the backbone of so many cool applications.

2. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of work?

We were running an event at the Roman Amphitheatre in the basement of the Guildhall. We had spent months building a 4G Network for a remote concert experience. A week before the event, it hit me that we had to do the concert with 5G. That meant carrying a Massive MIMO Radio, a cloud RAN Rack and a 400Kg UE to the basement of a Roman Amphitheatre. But we made it work within just five days!

3. What excites you most about working in telecoms?

We are at a turning point for the industry and the UK is at the forefront, which is extremely exciting. We have a competitive advantage. 

4. What would you like people to know about your work?

This industry is rewarding. Things can easily go wrong when working with cutting-edge innovation. But I have so much confidence in my team that this doesn’t matter. We will get it done and it will work.

5. ​​Why is a vibrant, flourishing telecoms ecosystem important for the UK?

It is important from the perspective of innovation adoption but also to produce a new economy centred around software that we can export.

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