Since October 2016 ComSoc colleagues from Guatemala and Mexico have been trying to organize a tour for one of our Distinguished Lecturers. In November 2016, by chance we met at the Regional Chapter Chairs Congress for Latin American Region, held in Medellin, Colombia. There, four of our chapters decided to request the visit of one of our finest speakers, professor Albert Banchs. From both sides of the Atlantic Ocean emails started to interchange. After several dozen electronic communications, a schedule was confirmed. He would visited Guatemala, El Salvador and two Mexican cities from March 26 to April 4.
From Guatemala, Albert Banchs arrived in El Salvador on March 28. I personally went to pick him up. Previously, I had warned I would be carrying a big IEEE poster with me. There I was, elbow to elbow, among taxi drivers who happen to be waiting for arriving travelers to take them to San Salvador’s hotels. In the taxi, on our way to San Salvador, during the long one hour trip from the airport to the city, there was a lot of time to talk. We found out that for three years, unknowingly, we were researchers at the same university, in the same faculty and in the same building. He was in the Department of Computer Networks and I, one floor above, was in the Department of Signal Theory and Communications. We never met each other and I have no recollection of having seen him before. However, we share many stories in common. The world is very small and this is how IEEE and its societies always put us together.
The first talk was given on March 29 at 10 o’clock in the morning at the Universidad Don Bosco. This private university is 15 kilometers east of San Salvador, and holds one of the best engineering schools in the country. Besides students from the host university, there were students from the Universidad de El Salvador where, recently, a new student ComSoc chapter was founded. The subject of the talk was “Offloading Cellular Traffic through Opportunistic Communications.” Professor Banchs explained some very disruptive technologies that would break with very established paradigms in the world of mobile communications. Opportunistic communication has to consider the random mobility of the network members, which makes it very unreliable, and a solution is challenging. Professor Banchs addressed optimization approaches. It was very interesting that one of its solutions is based on an adaptive control theory algorithm.
In the afternoon a second meeting was held. This time the audience was made up of industry professionals. More than 40 people attended the meeting. The subject of the talk was “A Global Vision of 5G Mobile Networks and the Network Slicing Technology.” At the end of the talk many questions were asked by the attendees. People from our local government regulator were very interested in learning about these new mobile communication technologies, as were local communication engineers. 4G deployment has just started very recently, so they wanted to know what the future would look like. At the end cocktails were offered by a local company called SETISA and the American manufacturer Keysight Technologies. On Thursday, March 30, Banchs departed to Mexico. His first destination was the city of Puebla. The Puebla ComSoc chapter organized the talk at Complejo Cultural Universitario. On Sunday, April 2, he made his last stop of the tour at Cuernavaca City, hosted by the Morelos ComSoc chapter. People were very happy with Albert Banchs. He is a great lecturer, a fine speaker, and a very special person.