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Jonathan  Pelson

Jonathan Pelson

Veteran Telecom Executive & Best-Selling Author of Wireless Wars

Jonathan Pelson

Veteran Telecom Executive & Best-Selling Author of Wireless Wars


Jon Pelson spent nearly twenty-five years working as an executive at some of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers and service providers, helping create and market breakthrough wireless products and solutions.

His roles included serving as Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Lucent Technologies and Chief Convergence Officer for British Telecom, where he created and drove the company’s global wireless strategy. During this time, Pelson traveled to China and watched that country’s fledgling telecommunications equipment companies grow and eventually seize the world lead. His observations on China’s use of home-grown business giants to advance geopolitical goals form the basis for his book, Wireless Wars: China's Dangerous Domination of 5G and How We're Fighting Back.

Pelson counsels technology companies on how to better compete with China and has advised leadership in the U.S. government and intelligence community on the impact of 5G competition from China. A frequent public speaker at industry events, Pelson has lectured at Duke University, William & Mary, and other colleges and trade associations. He has a degree in economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. Pelson lives with his family in Great Falls, Virginia.

Speech Topics

Taking the Lead Back from China

Technology firms have long found China to be a tough competitor, and issues like IP theft and government subsidies have made things even harder. But there are new models that create a path forward for companies trying to develop superior solutions. Companies who adopt a more agile and responsive model can find a path to success over centrally-directed tech giants in China.

In this talk, Pelson describes ways companies can take advantage of their flexibility and customer intimacy to bring solutions to market faster and more responsively than their deep-pocketed competitors in China.

Permissionless Innovation

The myth that China can’t innovate is dead; they are good at it and have overtaken many of their competitors in the West and across Asia. But free countries, and the companies based in them, can tap into an approach that can’t be replicated in authoritarian regimes. Permissionless innovation is the force that created giants like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and others.

In this talk, Pelson talks about taking advantage of this approach to achieve a new mindset and break from traditional planning and resources allocation processes. The solution requires cultural changes that may be difficult for companies in free societies, but are impossible for companies operating under government control.

Politics & Business

Most companies want to stay focused on the technology and financials of their sector, but for many companies, especially those involved in communications technology or other sectors competing with China, geopolitics has become part of the equation.

In this talk Pelson describes how the government is helping companies and what they can do to better compete. He also describes what geopolitical forces need to be taken into account while making business decisions and reviews how the intelligence community and law enforcement have inserted themselves into the process.

5G: Enabling the Next Wave

A new generation of companies are stepping up to deliver hardware and software solutions in support of 5G solutions, including Internet of Things applications. These companies aren’t the traditional telecom equipment makers, but a more diverse group that ranges from start-up radio makers to cloud giants entering the adjacent market.

Pelson describes what this ecosystem will look like and how companies can succeed in it.