What is Happening at Mobile World Congress 2017

Ian Poole
Mobile World Congress 2017 MWC 17
Editor Ian Poole looks at some of the underlying trends and developments that are being seen at Mobile World Congress 2017

Mobile World Congress is the annual even of the mobile industry. Held each year now in Barcelona Spain it draws a huge crowd each year. In 2017 over 110 000 visitors are expected.

As with any conference and exhibition such as Mobile World Congress there is plenty of marketing hype. The main thing is to dig below this to see what is really happening now and the developments that will make the visions of the future happen. What will succeed and what will fall by the wayside.

One of the major trends being seen here is the relentless move towards 5G. With the real standardisation process starting at the beginning of March 2017, we will see 5G beginning to take shape. All the research and development studies will start to be transformed into the reality of 5G. Soon hard decisions about the waveforms used fort he RAN along with the way forwards for the core network will need to be made, shaping the future of 5G.

With the standardisation process for 5G starting shortly after Mobile World Congress 2017, announcement save been made indicating that some operators want to bring the release date forwards. Originally the date that was being touted as the launch date was 2020. However with the winter Olympics taking place in Korea in 2019, there is pressure to bring the date forwards. Others also are bring pressure to bear to have early releases. With this in mind 3GPP will be releasing an early release to enable these early lunches of the basic standard forwards. Originally 2019 was specified for this early release, but now 2018 is being requested.

Initially the focus will be on improved mobile broadband, with other areas like M2M communications and to some extent low latency high data rate communications following on afterwards.

With work only just starting on standardising 5G, care will need to be taken that mistakes are not made purely to launch the standard earlier. We all know the issue of no standardised voice service being included in LTE and the later release of VoLTE only after the first services had been deployed.

If insufficient time is allowed to develop 5G then this could result in serious errors being made – we all know the development axiom that they is never enough time to do the job properly once, but always enough time to have to rework it.

Apart from the development of 5G, other areas like the Internet of Things are moving forwards. Although someone commented that the full business case is not yet there yet. That said the industry is learning to make god business cases fort he low data rate remote nodes. Everything from smart meters to other forms of remote monitoring are starting to come together. However to make this come true, operators need to provide business packages that enable this to work.

In addition to the technical developments, many new consumer products were launched. This year was more of a further advance rather than the introduction of totally new innovations with items like phones. Most of the major manufacturers had major phone launches, although Samsung were the exception. They are taking the cautious approach taking longer to test and verify their new offerings after the disastrous launch of the Note 7 which was banned in many areas including virtually all aircraft after many burst into flames.

Mobile World Congress 2017 has certainly been a very interesting time. Many new innovations and a significant move forwards in terms of 5G.

See more in our video interview with Mike Short of Telefonica

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