Monthly Archives: February 2019

Mobile World Congress – Day Four

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So the final day of Mobile World Congress 2019. A last chance to explore – and try to make it to Hall 8.1. It’s a long way from Hall 1…

Away from that, much buzz was created late yesterday and continued into today with discussion around the first ever tele-mentored surgery over a 5G connection. This was performed between the Fira Gran Via and Hospital Clinic de Barcelona with, reassuringly, the full consent of the patient.

A medical expert advised the surgeon during the live operation, with Vodafone providing the 5G connection in partnership with Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Mobile World Capital and online education portal, the Advances in Surgery Channel.

Although interestingly elsewhere at MWC, a panel discussion featuring a representative from McKinsey among others, highlighted a lack of capabilities within the mobile sector to capitalise on opportunities within the (digital) health sector.

I had a chance to wander round today and I have to say my personal highlight was learning all about liquid repellent nanotechnology. Basically you can drop your phone in the bath or swimming pool and it will still work afterwards. The aim of P2i, the company behind the technology, “is to bring liquid protection to the mass market.”

As I wandered round some other halls I saw similar variations of the same technology, with a fish tank type object housing 10 iPhones in various stages of immersion. Each had a clock showing how long the device had been submerged. Not that anyone would leave their phone in the water of course, but as a gimmick it was certainly attracting attention.

I’ve been thinking about how this year’s event compares to last year’s, and the main conclusion I have drawn is that if anything the technology, gadgets and gizmos on display just continue to get more, well, whacky! The bar has very much been raised for MWC 2020.

Mobile World Congress – Day Three

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We’re now three quarters of the way through Mobile World Congress 2019 and the themes of social good and diversity have been evident throughout the week so far. This included a keynote session delivered by UN deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed who highlighted that work is needed to increase gender diversity across the mobile industry.

She also issued a note of caution, pointing out that while new technologies increase convenience for a large proportion of the population, they also risk further widening the digital divide and so the need for inclusive innovations is paramount.

Meanwhile, Telefonica O2’s chief digital and strategy officer, Jo Bertram told those in attendance at 4YFN, the startup event at MWC 2019, that the operator is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce. She highlighted the initiatives O2 runs to promote a workforce reflective of society today, including apprenticeship and graduate schemes.

Elsewhere, the winners of the 2019 GLOMO Awards have also been announced, with TV and Radio presenter, Remel London and BBC Africa Business Editor, Larry Madowo presenting the awards. John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd, emphasised that the GLOMOs celebrate and showcase the companies and individuals driving innovation across the mobile industry.

For a full breakdown of all of the winners, visit the website, but some of those successful include:

  • Ericsson – Best Mobile Network Infrastructure
  • Nokia – 5G Leadership Award
  • Huawei – Best Smartphone – The Judges’ Choice
  • Accenture – Best Mobile VR or AR

In further awards news, the 4YFN Startup of the Year Award, which is focused on accelerating business development, was announced live earlier this afternoon in Hall 8 in front of packed audience, with NanoLock Security taking home the prize. The company provides the industry’s only lightweight, low-cost security and management solution for connected edge devices.

So three days down and one to go. Tomorrow we can likely expect the GSMA to reveal details around attendance numbers and a comparison to last year’s event. It certainly feels busier, but the numbers will not lie!

Mobile World Congress 2019 – Day Two

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Much of the talk on day two of Mobile World Congress 2019 has been centred on security, and specifically network security for 5G.

Conversations have followed on from a keynote session given late on day one by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for digital economy and society, addressing what she described as unrest amongst the mobile industry on potential legislation related to 5G rollout and wider national security. She sought to reassure attendees that the European Commission is taking all of the industry’s concerns very seriously and is committed to finding a solution as a priority.

Despite these concerns however, operators are continuing to press ahead, with T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray, announcing today that the company would build a 5G network in 30 US cities this year. Ray revealed that the operator’s first 5G sites could run on mmWave spectrum even though the company has previously touted a 600MHz rollout.

But others within the industry are less convinced. BT’s Consumer CEO Marc Allera, told delegates today that the deployment of commercial 5G will not go to plan, and flexibility is key to operators as EE, which Allera also heads up, prepares to launch 5G across 16 UK cities this summer.

Elsewhere away from 5G but still very much focused on security, Kevin Riley, Ribbon Communication’s CTO delivered a very well received presentation during the afternoon focusing on migrating and securing real-time communications on AWS.

Kevin discussed how attitudes to the cloud have changed dramatically in the last few years from a sense of fear about putting digital assets and critical data into public cloud infrastructure to the view of public cloud being more secure than many private cloud offerings. This is highlighted by the growth of AWS, which today accounts for over a third (35%) of the public cloud market.

He also talked about the growing sophistication of attacks today, including highlighting the work of bad actors who stole the records of millions of Home Depot customers a few years ago by infiltrating an IoT enabled air conditioning unit on the roof one of the company’s stores!

That’s now half of MWC 2019 complete and we’re looking forward to seeing what day three brings tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Mobile World Congress 2019 – Day One

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The theme for Mobile World Congress 2019 is Intelligent Connectivity, and it was no surprise to see 5G dominate much of the headlines on day one of the show. A study released by the GSMA forecasts that the fifth generation of mobile communications will account for 15% of all global mobile traffic by 2025, with around half of these connections expected to be in the US and a further 30% in China and Europe.

The financial impact for the global economy is also expected to be enormous, with the GSMA report estimating 5G to contribute $2.2 trillion over the next 15 years. Sectors including manufacturing, professional and financial services as well as utilities are expected to see the most financial benefit from the new technology.

But in his company’s press conference today, Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm issued a plea to authorities to address the issues he said are holding back 5G in Europe. Ekholm stated high spectrum fees, uncertain spectrum duration and heavy regulation are all putting Europe at risk of falling far behind Asia and North America in the 5G race.

There has also been much talk of IoT connectivity at MWC so far, with the GSMA study also predicting that global IoT revenue will quadruple to $1.1 trillion by 2025 as the number of global IoT connections triples to 25 billion in the same period. Meanwhile during a panel session on the eve of the show, the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Summit, the overriding message was that the IoT ecosystem is now mature enough to cope with mobile IoT services entering the market.

Of course it wouldn’t be MWC without the unveiling of the latest and greatest handsets, and this year’s event has not disappointed with the show kicking off with a number of manufacturers revealing their visions for the next generation of smartphones.

Huawei revealed its new foldable 5G device, the Mate X, with the promise of availability for consumers by the middle of the year at a price point of €2,299. The CEO of the company’s Consumer Unit, Richard Yu, emphasised that the device would support both non-standalone and standalone 5G, meaning it’s “not only for today’s 5G, but for the future 5G.”

Samsung had of course already released details of the Galaxy Fold at its own Unpacked events in San Francisco and London in the run up to MWC, but it did unveil a pair of new phones to its midrange Galaxy A series in Barcelona – the Galaxy A50 and the A30.

LG meanwhile showcased its V50 ThinQ, its first 5G smartphone, which comes with an optional accessory called Dual Screen. The company said this is its own spin on the foldable device trend and that while it had no plans to release a foldable screen this year, it will at some point in the near future as this is what it believes everyone will be using soon.

With day one drawing to a close amidst a planned metro strike, it’s a rush to the exit doors before regrouping and retuning for day two and everything that MWC 2019 has in store tomorrow.