MWC 2015: The Trends of MWC Were Telegraphed at CES

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • CES 2015 was dominated by high-profile telecom trends – IoT, Connected Cars, 4K Video – along with a growing number of potentially connected devices (EG, robots and drones)
  • Mobile World Congress 2015 should see a focus on the technologies needed to execute on the trends of CES, including LTE-A and 5G

With less than a month to go before MWC 2015 kicks off, we will soon start to see reports and analyses of what will likely be the show’s big themes. It turns out that nobody really likes a surprise. Or maybe they just want to come to Barcelona prepared so that they can plan early to hit all the important booths, exhibits and keynotes. In any case, if you’re one of those people who wants to start outlining your MWC wrap-up reports even before the show begins, you’ve got a few options for predicting its dominant themes. You could just assume that the major themes of 2015 are likely to be extensions of what we saw in 2014. That’s probably a safe bet. With vendors trying to get their MWC messaging out long before the noise of the show (see ) you can just see what gets announced over the next few weeks. Or, you can look to themes that emerged at CES and extrapolate from there.

Let’s think about this last option.

In a column for Fierce Wireless earlier this month, I argued that CES is becoming more and more like MWC. The logic is that if you look at the themes that dominated CES this year – Internet of Things, connected cars, digital health, video – they all have clear telecom implications and pull in technologies that are usually thought of as the remit of MWC messaging. On the one hand, those technologies run the gamut from video distribution platforms to IoT device management, analytics and security solutions. Simple enough, right? Sure. And we’ll doubtless see lots of this stuff at MWC. Yet, as much as service providers might want to get away from the image of being access providers, the fact remains that this is still a big part of what they do. Against the backdrop of CES messaging around connected devices, connected cars, connected healthcare and 4K video, this can only mean one thing – lots of MWC messaging around LTE-A and 5G. You know, the types of mobile broadband networks needed to fulfill all of those connected dreams?

On the one hand, this may not seem too surprising. We all know that vendors will come to Barcelona ready to talk LTE-Advanced and 5G. And yet, there are some implications to consider.

  • Access Matters / Backhaul Matters. It’s easy to dismiss access platforms as less important (or less cool) than the solutions deployed to deliver services over that access, especially as operators look to position themselves as much more than dumb pipe providers. This is a mistake. While not all connected devices will be connected over cellular networks, most will be connected over some sort of operator controlled network, if only from a backhaul perspective.
  • Access vs. Platforms. The idea that any operator can focus on access OR service platforms is a fallacy. When pulled together, they tell a much more compelling IoT story. That’s just what many operators have done when building their M2M offers and it’s what every operator needs to be thinking about as they evolve those offers.
  • 5G Gets A Little More Real. Yes, 5G was one of the “hot topics” of Mobile World Congress 2014. Back then, though, there were still lots of questions about 5G use cases. A year later, the idea that 5G (whatever it is) will be necessary to deliver on all of the potential future IoT and streaming video use cases is beginning to take hold. This means that 5G at MWC 2015 will be a more meaningful topic than it was at 2014, with vendors messaging their 5G expertise and definitions louder than ever before. Perhaps just as importantly, MWC 2015 should see more concrete messaging around what some vendors are calling “4.5G” – the evolution from today’s LTE-A to tomorrow’s 5G networks.

About Peter Jarich
Peter is Vice President for the Current Analysis Consumer and Infrastructure services. Peter and his analyst team monitor and evaluate activities in the markets for Consumer Services and Devices, Digital Media, Fixed Access, IP Services, Mobile Access, and Transport and Routing Infrastructure, Telecom Vendor Services, and overall coverage of the Mobile Ecosystem.

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