In many ways #MWC22 was a special event. Uncertainty around COVID-19 developments made it less clear who would be able to attend in Barcelona, no record numbers expected, but would we see some return to the ‘old days’?
With close to 60.000 attendees (source GSMA) between February 28th and March 3d, it certainly created the right energy levels again. For me personally, after joining Kaleido Intelligence as Head of Consultancy, it was a great way to reconnect with industry contacts. In a new role that also enabled me to debut as moderator for SmartCom Summit next to host Rob Kurver. During a 2 hour live broadcasted Special on Future Connectivity, we had an opportunity to discuss the latest trends with thought leaders from Enreach, Simfony (iBasis), KPN and Mavenir.
MWC22 showing a mobile market in transformation
Since 2006, Barcelona has been the Mobile Capital of the World and when looking back I realized the massive changes since that time. Nokia sold a third of all mobile devices and challengers like RIM Blackberry were showcasing their latest models. Technical evolution of devices and network dominated the show for years with Mobile Operators in a central position feeling ownership on customers. That has changed, MWC22 was also special as it clearly showed how mobile has been transformed and integrated in a much bigger digital market.
What remains from the ‘old days’ is that MWC is a landmark show where innovations become mainstream topics. That’s no guarantee for success but it is the best place to see what’s driving change. With the digital transformation the diversity has increased and focus is now much more on value and the customer experience (CX).
Creating value from 5G
Of course technical evolution remains in the spotlights with ongoing focus on 5G as essential ecosystem. Evolutions like Open Radio Access (ORAN), network slicing and the creation of (virtual) private networks are not all at the same level of development but it shows flexibility is being created to add value from different partners and to support solution requirements. Just think of the many IoT solutions ranging from autonomous vehicles that need extreme low latency to simple tracking and monitoring devices where battery life is important and data usage low. Also Metaverse will need 5G and although many companies were showcasing nice looking VR/AR samples the challenge will be in finding real purpose.
Three key trends
- Cloud turned mainstream in 2022 as benefits of network virtualization are clear. Whether using public clouds or hybrid solutions, flexibility and efficiency increase. Vertical integration from Hyperscalers (AWS, Google, Azure) has a massive impact on the industry with collaboration at the Edge where service providers connect to offer their solutions and with an ongoing focus on security and data sovereignty.
- ORAN is not on every agenda yet as many networks will continue to run a majority of their mobile broadband on 4G core for years, but momentum is there as the industry realizes that open standards will improve time to market and limit vendor dependency. Connecting to partners and solution providers is easier in an open system with focus on collaboration.
- Sustainability. ESG was already high on the agendas but this year it was very visible with fully dedicated stands from companies like SK Telecom and Vodafone. Of course financial reasons play a role too in saving energy but core message stands out that the mobile industry can contribute to sustainability goals with new technology improving efficiency in the supply chain, smart (IoT) solutions that limit need to travel and networks being optimized. The ambition to action was widespread.
During the 2 hour SmartCom live sessions at the Dutch Pavilion these trends were further discussed with focus on the role of service providers and how their cloud based solutions can add additional value. How innovation is stimulated with collaboration on white label (CPaaS) solutions and how IoT contributes to sustainability with improved connectivity when using eSIM. Diversity has absolutely increased and Customer eXperience is what matters.
So overall we see a clear focus on value with an awareness that customers want to buy solutions (instead of technology) and that collaboration is crucial to keep up with the latest developments.
Of course many other topics were addressed with for instance satellite solutions getting more attention as viable back-up and solution in remote areas. The war in Ukrain shows the need for such alternatives with in general much solidarity from within the industry to support Ukrain and its people suffering from war by offering free calls and roaming as example.
Collaboration can have many faces
My focus in 2022 is on connectivity, the starting point to enable sustainable cloud based (IoT) solutions and only possible through collaboration. Are you globally connected? Let’s do a check together and discuss: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author
The global market for mobile communication is where much of Gilbert’s 20+ years’ experience in international (data) communication has been focused at. Often described as an evangelist by motivating change, introducing new ideas and creating partnerships.
At KPN and iBasis he has been a driving force in building relationships with dozens of mobile network operators and solution providers globally. Focused on innovation, leading a Business Development team to enable roaming and data connectivity with interoperability between technologies.
In 2022 Gilbert joined Kaleido Intelligence, a specialist consulting and market research firm across the roaming & connectivity sector and known for its Vendor Hub source of roaming vendors worldwide.
In a world of digital transformation with Telco moving to Cloud with a new open 5G ecosystem enabling devices (IoT) and collaboration tools to be globally connected it is important to understand technology and to oversee the bigger picture. Hybrid models emerge with arbitrage telco solutions as important enablers for global coverage. A new revenue potential for networks to guarantee Cloud and IoT access in a secure and sustainable way.