Interview with Professor William Webb

Professor William Webb chose as his PhD thesis, finished in 1992, the use of variable level modulation in radio networks to raise the amount of data that can be carried.  It is used widely in radio networks today.  He worked for UK wireless consultancies until he moved to Motorola’s world HQ in Chicago becoming director of strategy. He joined the newly formed Ofcom communications regulator in the UK in 2003 and ran a 35-person R&D group.  He often worked in mixed groups of engineers and economists where he developed his skills as a forecaster of technology developments.  He now runs his own consultancy used internationally to advise CEOs, government and advisory bodies on issues of wireless communications.  Today he took time out to talk to Richard Sharpe about his life and career so far.

Professor Webb says his three standout achievements are:

“the use of variable level modulation in a radio system, which allows radio transmitters to adapt to the radio environment and so send a lot more information than they would otherwise be able to do which has become an inherent part of almost every radio tech system that we use today”

“the introduction of a mix of economics and technology to the management of radio spectrum, that allows radio spectrum to be directed towards its most efficient use such as cellular radio transmissions in a way that just wasn’t possible beforehand”

“a technology and standard for “internet of things” called “Weightless” which would allow very efficient, very effective communications between of all sort of “things”, connected machines, but this standard is yet to find a way to widespread adoption”