For the first 30 years of its life, mobile communications felt like a standalone industry with its own technology, services, vendors, and service providers.
A select group of telecoms vendors created the technology road-map and vision; a relatively small number of investors and operators captured the most lucrative licenses to build and operate mobile networks; and a few European, US, and Asian vendors controlled the mobile phone sector.
The Mobile World Congress, which takes place in Barcelona this week, will highlight just how quickly the technology and services landscape is starting to change.
It will mark a further shift in the evolution of mobile communications from a sector in its own right to a service and a capability which other companies in other sectors – banking, enterprise technology and software, and digital media to name just a few – can use to deliver improved services to their own customers.
The hot topics at MWC will come mostly from the world of IT. Cloud, data analytics, and SDN will all feature prominently on the exhibition floor.
Enterprise services and applications become a dominant theme. And most of the “future-gazing” on display will be around the Internet of Things.
Top 10 themes for MWC
Internet of Things
Roles, value chains, and business models are so ill-defined in the Internet of Things that we do not expect to see a large number of launches at MWC this year of specific IoT products.
Rather, we expect vendors to position their new products and technologies – be they in the radio access network, SDN and NFV, or in the enterprise cloud-service space – as being “IoT-ready” or “IoT-enabling”.
The key considerations in this regard will be: a) the ability to support a huge growth in the number of connections; and b) a significant reduction in the cost of supporting connectivity, be it in the device or in billing and operations support systems.
All of the large network infrastructure vendors – along with a whole host of large IT vendors and early-stage companies – will be showcasing SDN and NFV solutions.
With so many different visions of network virtualisation on display, the visiting mobile operator CTO teams are going to have their work cut out making judgments about – and comparisons between – the different solutions on offer.
Cloud will be everywhere at MWC – it will enable the vast majority of the new network technologies and services that are on display in the exhibition area.
But the bigger question is how telecoms operators can add value to the cloud services market rather than merely reselling public cloud services in a race to the bottom.