Key Takeaways from the Mobile World Congress 2019 MWC

Latest Takeaways from MWC 2019

 

Last week, Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) took place amid a bevy of excitement and activity.  This year’s theme was “Intelligent Connectivity,” which accurately describes what is happening in the market these days.   Not everything was celebratory, however.  The event was often overshadowed by geopolitical squabbles over network security and heightened scrutiny over financial viability regarding emerging technology investments, such as 5G.  5G quickly became the buzzword at MWC.  Despite the squabbling over the 5G hype, MWC 2019 served as an important milestone with 5G received the greatest share of exposure throughout the event.

Some of this year’s key takeaways from MWC include the following:

The New 5G, AI and IoT Trinity:

  • 5G, AI, and IoT forms a new partnership.  Last year at MWC, 5G was depicted as a strictly standalone technology.  This year, the technology has definitely matured, as it was promoted and discussed in combination with AI and IoT.  In addition, the AI hype witnessed last year also matured, defending AI as an important tool for managing networks efficiently by using machine learning.  IoT was discussed from a “connected sensor” perspective.  This makes more sense from a network management, use case, and financial consideration perspective.
  • Key Building Blocks for the 5G/AI and IoT Trinity. Several new product lines were introduced, including 5G handsets, which were demonstrated, including the LG V50 ThinO, Huawei Mate X, and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.  Other products included 5G base stations, and intelligent network management solutions such as Telefonica’s Kit IoT platform. While 5G handsets and base stations still struggle with performance and battery life issues, the issues are becoming less bothersome with enhanced development.
  • The 5G, AI, and IoT Trinity promises miracles for telcos, consumers, and businesses alike. The potential use cases for 5G remain plentiful. A number of vendors were showing off the potential of 5G as the answer to business and personal Internet woes. It is predicted that 5G will give rise to new ideas for connected devices and other exciting new assets.  The combination of software-defined networking (SDN), and network function virtualization (NFV) with 5G triggers shifts beyond traditional new technology rollouts.
  • The 5G, AI, and IoT Trinity Gospel still has a long road. This merge of technologies, alas, is still looking for additional converts.  Scepticism over the trinity merge was high, especially pertaining to the financial benefits. Financial returns from investments was viewed with great caution by most business user attendees we talked to.  In terms of consumers, the 5G handset pricing and size was a big turnoff, and it may be some time before talk about ROI is positive.This scepticism is similar to the hype a few years back that surrounded 3G and 4G, and this time the 5G fervor may be placing the cart before the horse.  MWC attendees conclude that, while the technology is still developing, it is a bit premature at this point to define the hype.  While it may not be economically viable today, additional technology solutions in the future may pay off with greater financial returns.  This will help 5G users.  The 5G rollout scenario will follow the depreciation cycle of 4G and other legacy standards.  In fact, 5G may be gradually introduced into the network infrastructure as 4G capex is gradually replaced.
  • The Future of 5G. 5G will gradually unfold its potential to enhance the customer experience by introducing super-fast mobile broadband; support IoT solutions with machine-type communications; and open new business opportunities through reliable and low latency communications.  MWC 2019 was an important soundboard for preparing the future success of 5G, despite the hype created.

 

Other Takeaways at MWC 2019:

  • Mobile and telecom industries developing their own place in our daily lives. Since 2011, smartphone ownership is up 40%, as mobile phones evolve and develop.  Tech advancements transform smartphones to duplicate home computer tasks and uses, often being more productive and with faster responses.  Technology continues to advance at light speed from year to year.
  • Heightened issues with security impact data protection. As our lives become increasingly digital, security becomes more important than ever.  Financial and medical records are now easily accessible through our smartphones, and meta information offers a glimpse into our daily routines as they become public for advertisers and scammers alike.
  • Stricter data protection regulations will only continue to affect our digital lives. As mobile devices become our window to the world, and internet becomes a greater part of our lives, mobile use has to play a role in GDPR compliance.  One example had to do with telecom providers.  Not only do they have to make data sets secure and anonymous, but they must provide customers with electronic copies of their records and the ability to request them. Personal information will continue to be part of the internet, and new privacy laws will continue to evolve their roles.  There will be tighter regulations around data sharing and data security.  Users demand to know how their information is shared and why, as well as whether they are accidentally oversharing or sharing unnecessary information that may compromise their privacy.


Conclusions

Expectations at MWC are always high for checking out new technologies.  Next year, we will report again about the continued development of 5G and how it fits into the “trinity” with AI and IoT.  If you were unable to attend, buy your tickets early for next year’s event.  It is well worth the price of admission to review trends as they move forward.  We all love new technology and its impact on every day life.  The 5G fervour will no doubt continue unabated.  Will it be financially sound?  It is anyone’s guess.