29 Jan 2018

Mobile World Congress 2018: what will we see?

Mobile World Congress take place at the end of February, and Editor, Ian Poole takes a look at what we might expect to see.

Mobile World Congress 2018 will take place in Barcelona Spain between 26nd February to 1st March 2018. This year the summary line is: Creating a Better Future.”

With everything that has been happening in the mobile telecommunications industry this year, the 2018 MWC promises to be a particularly interesting event.

Last year, Mobile World Congress was seen as a major success by the organisers, GSMA with nearly 110 000 visitors attending the event.

So what can we expect to see at Mobile World Congress 2018. With the amount of innovation that is being undertaken, along with the major drives for developing 5G and IoT, not to mention the ever increasing presence of mobile technology in ever day life as a result of many new applications, there will be plenty to see and digest at MWC 2018.

MWC 20178 speakers

One of the major attractions at Mobile World Congress is the Conference. As usual the GSMA who organises the event has arranged an impressive line-up of speakers who will provide some enlightening insights into the way the industry is moving.

Some of the speakers include: Sunil Bharti, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, Gavin Patterson, CEO BT Group; Borje Ekholm, President & CEO Ericsson; Matts Granryd, Director General GSMA; Cher Wang, Chairwoman, HTC; Christopher Young, CEO McAfee; Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, Preseident & CEO NTT DoCoMo; Jim Whitehurst, President & CEO Red Hat; Rajeev Misra, CEO SoftBank Vision Fund; Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive Vodafone; Dr Jim Yong Kim, President World Bank, and many more . . .

The line-up of speakers is aprticaulrly impressive and will be gauaranteed to provide a wealth of insight into all aspects of the industry.

Technology developments

One area that will be of significant interest to many is the technology developments and the trends that can be seen at MWC 2018. All the major players within the industry will be at MWC 2018 and as a result, it will be possible to gain a good insight about what is happening within the industry, although seeing as many companies as you want is always a tall order!

Talking to some industry insiders, this year will see some further developments in a variety of areas. Some of the hot topics will include:

  • 5G

  • IoT

  • Smart / connected cities & cities

  • Autonomous vehicles

  • Network infrastructure developments

  • New handsets

  • Innovative apps

5G development

5G is now coming to fruition. As the standards are now starting to be firmed up and initial releases become available, it will be interesting to see some of the first offereings of what is happening within the 5G arena.

Now that the initial 5G NR (New Radio) standard has been released, there will undoubtedly be a lot of activity in this area. Many companies are likely to have initial launches and it will be interesting to see what they are demonstrating. Qualcomm will certainly be one company to keep an eye on as they are bound to have some interesting technology.

Internet of Things, IoT

The Internet of Things is becoming a much larger player in the mobile communications scene. With huge numbers forecast for the number of end nodes that will be needed by 2020, there will be a steep rise in usage as this is not far away. With a variety of options to choose from including LTE Cat M1, LTE Cat NB1 as well as other standards like LoRa, SIGFOX and a number of others, it will be interesting to see the direction that the majority of the industry is taking.

Wearable technology at Mobile World Congress

At MWC 2018, there will undoubtedly be many new developments addressing this sector.

Smart cities & homes

Moving on from just the Internet of Things, smart cities and homes will have a major presence at MWC 2018. With the Internet of Things starting to take off, there will undoubtedly be a major level of interest in these areas. Control of all aspects of both cities and homes will become increasingly attractive as the bearers like LTE-M and 5G as well as many other systems become more commonplace and better established.

Security remains a major issue. With an increasing number of reports of major hacks of various sites, it is obvious that as we place increased reliance on smart control, this will be an attractive target for hackers: individuals, companies and countries. There could be rich pickings there for the unscrupulous and illegal.

As a result, it is likely that the focus on security will increase steadily and we are likely to see evidence of this from security companies as well as companies that design processors, other hardware and software in general. Security needs to be built in at the concept stage of a product and not at the end.

Apart from security, many new applications will be seen along with whole systems. As part of the GSMA pavilion, one of the focus areas will be on connected living. This should bring out many new examples of the way the industry is moving.

Connected vehicles

Current build new vehicles have far more electronics within them nowadays - collision avoidance, and self-parking features are now commonplace on higher end models. For the future completely autonomous vehicles are being developed.

The increasing level of electronics within automotive industry is becoming a major driver for the electronics industry as a whole. Part of this will be the drive for wireless connection. In order to develop fully autonomous vehicles it will be necessary to communicate not only with the road infrastructure to be able to understand the road topology, but also other vehicles so that it is possible to jointly understand what the other is doing and in that way for both vehicles to navigate effectively and safely.

This autonomous vehicle communication is one of the major drivers (no pun intended) for 5G. Low latency and wideband communication will be required to ensure this can all be achieved. Seeing how this is all coming in to place will be a major area to investigate at MWC 2018.

Network infrastructure

There is a huge amount of work that is taking place within the network arena. As a result, this will be an area of major interest at MWC 2018. Everything from SDN and NFV right though to small cells and the front-haul associated with the organisation of many cells.

The NGMN are holding a meeting at which they are bound to launch new initiatives and map out the plans for 5G. As 5G will require much lower levels of latency, it will be interesting to see what hey have to say.

New handsets

Mobile World Congress has always been the launch-pad for many new devices. This year should be no exception. Samsung, Sony, HTC, ZTE and many others are likely to launch their next offerings at MWC 2018.

ZTE eye recognition security at Mobile World Congress 2015

Last year much of the focus of new phones from the major manufacturers revolved around virtual reality. What will we see this year?

Innovative Apps

The App market is huge and continuing to grow. Often Apps provide more of the same or they do the same things in a better way.

It will be interesting to see whether there are any really innovative applications. What can be new within this arena that has not already been thought of?


As ever Mobile World Congress will be the major networking event for the mobile telecommunications industry. It is far more than a conference with a huge number of excellent speakers and insights into the business and technology behind the industry. It is also far more than just the exhibition with the huge number of exhibitors all showing where the industry is going. MWC is the main event for the whole industry and will enable people to network, make deals, find out what is happening and generally learn about every aspect of the mobile telecommunications – in many respect the must be there event for mobile communications.

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About the author

Ian Poole is the editor of Radio-Electronics.com. Having studied at University College London to gain his degree he went on to undertake a career in electronic development working for companies including Racal. He became the hardware development manager at Racal Instruments where he was in charge of the hardware development activities within the company. Later moving in to freelance work as a consultant he also developed Radio-Electronics.com to become one of the leading publications for professional electronics engineers. He is also a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and is the author of over 20 books.

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