March 10, 2015
Barcelona, Spain – The annual telecom bonanza known as the Mobile World Congress again broke records with organizers estimating the event attracted 93,000 visitors from 200 countries.
It featured more than 2,000 exhibiting companies housed in 100,000 net square metres of exhibition and hospitality space.
Held from March 2-5, among the industry observers were 17 senior analysts from the research firm Ovum, there to identify and discuss the latest industry trends with its clients and partners. Prior to the show Mark Newman, Ovum’s chief research officer, sent out a prediction of what could be expected.
Hot topics, he said, 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 are a dominant theme and most of the future-gazing on display will be around the Internet of Things.”
Newman went on to say that 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 telecom vendors created the technology roadmap 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, U.S., and Asian vendors controlled the mobile phone sector.
“The Mobile World Congress 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.”
All of his predictions came to pass for there was that and more at eight different halls located in the Fira Gran Vira conference facility.
On the opening day, Stefano Pileri, CEO of Italtel, warned that operators wanting to stay afloat in the rapidly changing telecom market will need to massively transform their infrastructure in terms of guaranteed bandwidth, communications security, low latency rate and minimum cost for increased capacity.
Speaking as part of the Network Evolution in Practice session Pileri said the rise of Internet of Things (IoT), exponential growth of IP traffic, reduction in the profitability of telecommunications services and the increase in the number of devices have all contributed to the need for this transformation.
Over the course of his speech, Pileri said three main elements will drive this transformation: simplification, virtualization and automation, with networks needing to take a minimal architecture which Italtel calls ‘ABC’: Access, Backbone and Cloud. This approach will also allow the integration of concepts such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).
“Operators will see a range of benefits with this simplified structure,” said Pileri. “These include reduced Total Cost of Ownership of around 40%, reduced consumption and reduced operations and maintenance. In addition, operators can reduce the time to market for new services and, most importantly, expose network services with standard interfaces to many third-party specialist applications, taking up the role of service enablers.”
Pileri went on to suggest two possible architectures to guide the network transformation: A cutting-edge “Central Cloud” architecture and “Edge Cloud” architecture, with each type defined by a different use of resources and performance requirements.
According to ERP vendor SAP, to remain competitive in today’s “hyperconnected, saturated markets, telcos must leverage their massive stores of data in order to achieve deeper customer engagement and streamlined omnichannel commerce, gain insight into network usage and drive-cost-efficient operations.
“According to an IDC study, the amount of data in the world is set to grow 10-fold in the next 10 years to 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes.”
Ericsson president and CEO Hans Vestberg reflected on the pace of change in the industry at the company’s opening-day media and analyst briefing: “We predict four key changes during 2015: more people will watch streamed, on-demand video than broadcast TV on a weekly basis; video will generate half of the mobile data traffic; LTE subscriber growth will exceed 80% and world mobile broadband coverage will be above 70%.
“These are all massive forces of change and open up new opportunities both in the ICT industry and in other industries.
“There is a new logic being applied across industries. We can see a definite shift from physical products to digital services. New business models are emerging, along with new ways of solving old problems that create new efficiencies. True customer intimacy can be created using digital tools. All in all, you can see that ICT drives transformation that is really changing the game.”
Meanwhile, Nokia Networks showed the possibilities of mobile connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT) with live demonstrations that included 5G radio equipment on new millimeter and centimeter wave bands as well as new frame structures to achieve single-digit millisecond latency.
According to the Helsinki-based networking company this allows for the immediate, synchronous eye-hand feedback that enables remote control over robots working in construction and maintenance.
It added that with IoT, critical new security capabilities will be needed at the device and network levels
“The transition to IoT means we will soon live in a world with between 10 and 100 times more Internet-connected devices than there are connected humans. Real time IoT will require even more reliable communication links, lower transmission delays (latencies) and extreme throughput to serve the data transmitted by hundreds of billions of sensors and machines.
“The Internet of Things, a driver for what we call the Programmable World, opens tremendous potential to expand the human possibilities of technology,” said Kathrin Buvac, vice president of strategy at Nokia. “Within the next 10 years, we will see 50 billion things connected, enabling industries to become more efficient and helping people to improve their daily lives.”
Other product launches included:
Brian Anderson, vice president of marketing with Sierra Wireless, said every year the conference “gets bigger and this year is no exception. All the things you can do with a smartphone are exploding. When you think that five years ago they really didn’t exist and now there is over a billion of them.”
Germain Lamonde, founder, president and CEO of EXFO said that with 90,000+ top wireless decision makers, executives, and “movers and shakers” it a gathering of “who’s-who in the industry on a global scale.
“We have been exhibiting here for the last five years. EXFO historically was more involved in the fixed-line, but eight years ago we made a strategic decision to get into wireless. Today, it represents one-third of our business.”
Further coverage of the Mobile World Congress will be posted online at a later date.