Operator Trends at Mobile World Congress 2018

Artificial Intelligence, IoT and 5G to Dominate Announcements


With the countdown to Mobile World Congress 2018 now in full swing, here I share some thoughts about what to expect from the event in the area of network operators and connectivity. To view CCS Insight's broader predictions for the show, click here.

Firstly, don't anticipate many major new themes to emerge in Barcelona. The leading areas of discussion will mostly be the same as in 2017, dominated by 5G, the Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. Despite this, there should be plenty of news about progress in these areas.

In 5G, there will be more noise than ever before. After the completion of the first formal standard in December 2017, it will seem as if everyone wants to put out a message about 5G. Cutting through the hype will prove an onerous task and I wonder if any CEO will be brave enough this year to speak out negatively about the technology.

But I'd like to look on the positive side. The Winter Olympics in South Korea — which finish the day before Mobile World Congress officially begins — may offer a much-needed glimpse into early consumer applications of 5G, as companies are using the games to showcase some of the potential that the technology holds. I'm also eager to hear more about plans for 5G as a fixed wireless solution, a path being trodden by US carriers Verizon and AT&T. Mobile World Congress also represents a great forum for engagement of mobile connectivity within vertical market sectors. This is a crucial opportunity for 5G, so hopefully we'll hear some announcements.

Last year, artificial intelligence was the only new leading topic of conversation among network operators. I expect that this time we'll see more developments in this area, with voice assistants and chat bots prevalent on many stands. Of particular interest will be an update from Telefonica on Aura, its cognitive platform and the operator's leading announcement at the show in 2017.

Few people would consider mobile operators as pioneers in artificial intelligence, so it'll be interesting to see how these companies position themselves. It could be that predicting faults to optimise network performance emerges as the main benefit in the long run.

Low-power wide area technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M will again feature strongly on exhibition stands. This year, early deployments should bring a dose of commercial reality to demonstrations at the show. But with connectivity still representing only a minority of the total value of an IoT project, it's time that debate focussed on how operators can better monetise their investment.

Among other topics, we could see fierce debate over Net neutrality. The Monday evening keynote session featuring the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, will be a hot ticket in the wake of his controversial policy to overturn previous regulation in the US. There's also a conference track on customer care. This is a theme that has been shamefully neglected in the past, but could offer huge rewards if operators get it right.

If I were to make one plea, it would be that European CEOs refrain from using the show as a platform to lambast authorities over burdensome regulation. This has become a tedious and repetitive message in recent years. With the eyes of the world on Barcelona, operators should be seizing the opportunity to advocate the potential of upgraded LTE technology and imminent 5G networks that will be central to reinventing our personal and working lives in the future.

Lastly, how network operators position themselves in the future could be an underlying theme. At the event in 2017, VimpelCom made a surprise move by launching an entirely new business model (see Veon Seeks New Template for Operator Business Models). It remains to be seen whether any of its rivals will be bold enough to present something equally disruptive this time around. One thing's for certain, the future relevance of a service provider is under scrutiny like never before.

See you soon, Barcelona!

Click on the graphic for a larger version.

This entry was posted on February 14th, 2018 and is filed under Mobile World Congress (MWC). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or you can leave a response.

Posted By Kester Mann On February 14th, 2018


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Recent study sparks fresh concerns about excessive phone use, as blue light from screens may be much more harmful t… https://t.co/WE3wD6iLcZ
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Congratulations Conor and Harvey. Brilliant effort from the lads, 49 mins and all in an really worthwhile cause.… https://t.co/brFfN33FjV
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
RT @nickmcquire: As we predicted last year & will show at #ccspredicts in a few weeks, it has turned up a notch again in 2018 with implicat…
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
Great briefing yesterday from @qualcomm's @wellingmax on the need for energy-efficient AI with edge computing. The… https://t.co/yDAQihdrQ6
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Crypto mining has been a consistent thorn in Nvidia's side. When demand was up it upset core customers. Now it's do… https://t.co/OiBh3hdHbf
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@caro_milanesi Ah yes :) My mum grows zucchini and stuffs flowers with rice- delicious!! Do you grow your own zucch… https://t.co/RT0Y4ki5GK
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
As we predicted last year & will show at #ccspredicts in a few weeks, it has turned up a notch again in 2018 with i… https://t.co/tMkOFK10Gw
Follow Nicholas
Angela Ashenden
Chuckling watching Five Star’s System Addict on old #TOTP2.. in some ways it’s quite prophetic, if you can get past… https://t.co/TlPHjx9eSx
Follow Angela
Kester Mann
DT in an apparent swipe at United Internet, which is considering bidding in the upcoming German 5G auction and then… https://t.co/ZYDCoyXWaW
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
For the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is offering £300 trade in discount in addition to 0% finance to the owners of Note 8… https://t.co/Cbi631p6lT
Follow George
Laura Simeonova
RT @benwood: P20 devices testament to Huawei's ambition in smartphone market. Consistently improving design, capabilities and appeal of its…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
Opt-out donation plan 'will not increase donors' - why you should let your family know your wishes https://t.co/H9ef8R41Cs
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Serious Concerns about Blue Light from Screens Researchers Say Extended Exposure Could Accelerate Blindness... Read more
Blog Post
Starry Internet, the Sequel Start-Up Launches Its Wireless Internet Service across the U... Read more
Blog Post
India's Ola Announces UK Push Ride-Hailing Company Looks for a Gateway to Europe Last wee... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Angela Ashenden Joins CCS Insight to Lead Business Collaboration Research Enterprise Research Coverage Continues to Expand ... Read more
More news