MWC 2016: Size Matters

Cityscape of Barcelona

When there are 100,000 people gathering in one place, you know something big is happening.

That’s exactly what happened at the largest gathering of the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona last week. Players from every “walks of the mobile life”, that’s the the mobile ecosystem, were there: network service operators, technology providers, app developers, and industry verticals at the forefront of adopting and developing new business models that leverage the mobile infrastructure to unleash growth. These industries include the automobile, airline, and transportation industries. After all, who’s not affected by mobile? And with the increased adoption of the smartphone (half of all mobile phones shipped 2015 were smartphones), and the ubiquitous high-speed mobile broadband network, mobile has surely taken the centre stage in our lives.

Smart city, smart home. Nothing shows the impact of mobile more than seeing the way we have changed living our lives — we have more connected devices at home, on the go, at work, and during leisure activities. Mobility and high-speed connections have intertwined to make our work more productive and make our lives far more enriching. Productivity increases when information is at our fingertips: fast broadband connections, mobility, and search engines put our life and work on steroids. This is life in the fast lane.

The size of the event not only manifested itself in physical forms like exhibits, demonstrations, even cars and airplanes parked inside the exhibition halls, what’s far more telling is the impact of mobile innovation, the size of the people and events “the things on display cast impacts on. It is global in magnitude.

Leading cities in the world are deploying or trialing services connecting their city infrastructure onto a broadband network and their mobile network to enhance security, surveillance, health care delivery, education, and value-added services to citizens.

As you would expected at MWC, there was lots of talks about Internet of Things (IoT). Everything connected, mobile payments, remote medical diagnostics, asset tracking and monitoring, management of service delivery, the pervasive nature of mobile — all coupled with faster speeds that create new industries and spawn new ventures and services.

Just a year ago we were talking about 4G LTE deployments and challenges in certain parts of the world that are still lagging behind in upgrading from 2G and 3G networks to LTE. Now, 5G is no longer a novel idea — it’s real. Both mobile operators and app developers have started exploring the services that will be unleashed by this super-fast mobile network, which will truly bring forth the IoT reality.

While mobile operators are focused on improving throughput and solving latency issues, industries are bringing the services to life with wearables and virtual/augmented reality. At first glance, it may seem just entertaining, but new business models are developing and these concepts will soon become real and commonplace.

For those of us on the side of the ecosystem that provide enabling technology, our focus continues to be on what can be done to help operators improve their customers’ experiences, which ultimately helps drive service adoption and creates the velocity of change. That includes automatic mobile connections, single subscriber sign on, secure access to services and data, all while keeping mobile within a private and trusted environment.

Indeed, mobile has created its own velocity. Together, we are driving the changes.

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