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Braun Ready for the Next Thing

Harald Braun may stand down from a CEO post, as he did recently at Aviat Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AVNW), but the high-energy engine that drives this man keeps revving. (See Aviat Replaces CEO.)

Two weeks after Braun's resignation from a company he had fundamentally reshaped, the former Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) executive told Light Reading he's fielding a lot of calls, spending hours on his street bike, and driving his family crazy as he works from a home office. Braun also says he expects to be back in action within telecom.

"The first 48 hours, to see which people are calling you, it was very interesting," says Braun, who says he can't discuss Aviat or what precipitated his resignation. "There is definitely something out there."

Braun was actually in South Africa, at the World Cup, visiting a major Aviat client, and getting the opportunity to see his home country, Germany, play soccer, just before his resignation. He spent part of the first week afterward in Israel at a board meeting of BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), for whom he works as an adviser. (See Pohl, Braun Join BigBand Board.)

"The second week was a little bit -- let's step back, and think," he says. "What is the plan, what is the next step, what can you do next, what is it? I am starting to make a plan -- I will not sit here for a month and do nothing and calm down. "

That plan could include the area of telemetrics -- using telecom networks for smart grids and other machine-to-machine communications. Under Braun, Aviat began a major smart-grid push.

"There is a lot of money in that industry in terms of grants from the federal governments, not just in the US, and stimulus packages worldwide." Braun says. "I was just in Australia, and there is activity in smart grid going on there."

The combination of data communications with alternative energy is an area in which Braun remains interested -- and qualified.

"I'm getting a lot of calls, and I think some of the people are recognizing that data communications is everywhere and mobility is everywhere," he says. "A smart meter can be the access point to your home and do more than read data from your meter or your water meter."

And Braun remains a big-picture guy

"From my point of view and working for industry for a while and big companies and interacting with big companies -- you have this end-to-end kind of story in your mind," Braun says. "You have to be wondering what is the next big thing, how do we connect to LTE, how do we connect to the core, how do you best connect to a customer wirelessly. I never stopped on a portion of the whole chain. I'm always looking from the customer to the core. Some people are only satisfied with addressing a portion of it. I think that's short-term thinking."

He wasn't exactly disappointed with the German team's third-place finish, calling them a young group that still played well, and wasn't at all surprised that Spain won the World Cup.

"I had Brazil and Spain in the final, with Spain winning -- they are the best team," he said. "I just didn't count in the Dutch. "

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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