Industry experts give their views on what trends are likely to dominate MWC19

2 mins read

With Mobile World Congress less than a week away (25-28 February), what can visitors expect? Here, industry gives its views, predicting what will be this year’s biggest trends at the Barcelona based show.

“2018 was a pivotal moment for eSIM and consumer adoption,” said Manuel Zepeda, Division President, Caribbean and Latin America, Amdocs. “With Apple using eSIM technology in the iPhone X and a growing number of mobile operators across the globe supporting the technology, it’s only a matter of time before eSIM-only becomes the standard in devices.”

As such Zepeda believes MWC19 will comprise a series of discussions focused on how operators can offer this eSIM technology to the enterprise.

While Ingo Flomer, VP Business Development and Technology, Cobham Wireless, believes the main focus for this year will be IoT connectivity requirements.

“Whilst in the future, it’ll be 5G that facilitates the IIoT, this year we’ll see a demand from the IIoT sector for 4.5G,” he suggests.

He sees a demand for coverage systems that can support 4.5G today and 5G when the technology arrives. “Whilst a lot of the hype at MWC will be around 5G, there will also be a huge amount of discussion regarding how today’s technology can support critical IoT systems.”

Pio Suh, Managing Director, IPCom, agrees that 5G will steal the limelight; predicting handset launches and networks to dominate. He adds there will be a “big focus” on how 5G can unlock opportunities in vertical sectors too, including healthcare, smart cities and agriculture.

He elaborates, “At MWC we can expect to see some innovations come to fruition, and with them, the issues and complexity of how to license patent bearing devices of these 5G technologies. For example, major car manufacturers will need to research, negotiate and finally obtain necessary patent licenses for their connected cars.”

Steve Papa, CEO, Founder, Parallel Wireless concurs that 5G will rule at this year’s MWC. “Operators and vendors from across the globe will be competing to demonstrate they are leading the race for 5G commercialisation. We’ve already seen debate in the US market, as T-Mobile and Verizon have fired shots at AT&T for claiming that a service that they are marketing as 5G, is in-fact just supercharged 4G.

“Today, 5G is primarily concerned with radio access network (RAN) technology, as the 3GPP specifications for the core network have not yet been finalised. Being first to market with 5G is, therefore, about how quickly operators can introduce 5G radios into their networks and integrate them with legacy 2G, 3G and 4G infrastructure.”

He believes that speedy deployment of 5G will rely on virtualised RAN (vRAN) and open RAN (oRAN) technology.

While John English, Director of Marketing, Service Provider Solutions, NETSCOUT, sees security in 5G as the central topic.

“From our conversations with mobile operators, we know how seriously they’re taking security. In Barcelona this year, we will therefore see the operator community come together to discuss how to address critical security challenges. With 5G driving the adoption of virtualised network infrastructures such as containers and distributed cloud models, much of the conversation will focus on how carriers can secure and assure services in this increasingly complex environment.”

But Richard Baker, CEO, GeoSpock, believes it will be Smart cities that take centre stage at MWC.

“We will see plans and prototypes for smart city infrastructure demo-ed and mapped by exhibitors, with the Country/Territory pavilions and GSMA’s Innovation City offering stages for playing out ideas for connected environments. This will span everything from autonomous vehicles to utilities management in smart office blocks, showcasing the benefits smart cities can bring.

“However, for smart cities to evolve from the ideas stage to reality, there are significant data challenges that must be addressed. Much of the data needed to inform smart city planning currently exists in siloes.

“What’s needed is an approach which marries both macro-level and micro-level views of the urban environment: visibility of every element and end-point in a smart city, and the ability to map this onto expansive real-world environments, in real time.

“Operators’ attentions at MWC will also be focused on smart city developments, as they seek to enter new verticals and generate new revenue opportunities,” he concludes.