Connectivity, 5G among themes at MWC Barcelona

MWCMobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona, the world’s largest mobile event, recently took place at Fira Gran Via. The conference, which brings together the latest innovations and leading-edge technology, welcomed more than 109,000 visitors from more than 198 countries and territories and 2,400 companies that explored the hottest topics currently influencing the industry. According to the MWC Barcelona website, more than 55 percent of this year’s attendees held senior level positions, including more than 7,900 CEOs. MWC comprised dozens of partner-led programs, GSMA seminars, summits and more.

This year’s MWC event theme was “Intelligent Connectivity”—a term used to describe the combination of flexible, high-speed 5G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Within Intelligent Connectivity, eight core themes were developed: Connectivity, AI, Industry 4.0, Immersive Content, Disruptive Innovation, Digital Wellness, Digital Trust and The Future.

“Intelligent connectivity marks the beginning of a new era defined by highly contextualized and personalized experiences, delivered when and where you want them. This is the future of our industry and our world,” the MWC Barcelona website said.

Among the event highlights was Mobile World Live TV, which provided telecommunications content throughout MWC and conducted the first 5G live broadcasting trial. Samsung’s 5G network supported the broadcasts, which enabled seamless transmission without latency during the five-day event. Meanwhile, the GSMA introduced its facial recognition service, Biometric Recognition Easy Entry Zone (BREEZ). Participants enjoyed contactless entry, meaning they did not have to show their ID or have their badge scanned to get into the event at venue points and restricted areas.

The third annual Women4Tech program was held to give a platform for attendees focused on reducing the gender gap and championing diversity in the mobile industry. The GSMA Women4Tech Summit gathered senior leaders to discuss trending topics and to help create equality within the industry. “Inside Track” was a new addition to the summit; it offered attendees the chance to gain insight into their professional skills from a Fortune 500 expert.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Fritzsche, Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst, attended MWC and stated she and her team noticed three key themes that she believed would impact different verticals within her sector, reports Inside Towers.  Fritzsche believed the hype surrounding 5G looked to be reaching a point of, “too much euphoria.”

“As VZ indicated last week, the real 5G revenue opportunity likely will not be seen until the 2020-2021 timeframe,” Fritzsche told Inside Towers. “We continue to believe the early 5G winners will be the ‘arms dealers’ that supply the infrastructure. There seems to be a particular focus on the Edge infrastructure theme with mobile edge computing capabilities. In our view, those names leveraged to this theme should be well positioned in the initial stages of the 5G build out.”

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 “Most believe 5G will offer improved speeds, coverage, lower costs, etc. In our view, the key point is that 5G will change how the average consumer and enterprise uses connectivity,” she told Inside Towers. “In a 4G world (and every ‘G’ that came before it), connectivity drove the use case. In 5G, it essentially will be the opposite, where the use case will drive the amount of connectivity and manner in which that connectivity is used.”

According to Fritzsche, the companies best positioned are the ones that possess more of the infrastructure. She believes that as 5G infrastructure’s reach expands, the companies that offer “network solutions” to operators and can check multiple infrastructure “boxes” like fiber, small cell and macro will be ahead of the game. Fritzsche mentioned ExteNet and CCI as examples.

Fritzsche also reported that Sprint used MWC to announce it would deploy four, live 5G mobile markets by May and a total of nine cities in the first half of 2019, covering more than 1,000 square miles.

“(Sprint Chief Technology Officer) Dr. John Saw offered very specific maps as to where its coverage in each of these markets would extend to, which we note was far more detailed than those received from any other U.S. operator,” Fritzsche said.

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