MWC16: IoT Roundup – Everywhere and Nowhere in Barcelona

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile World Congress saw plenty of discussion and activity around IoT, including technology demos, technology trials, and solution enhancements.
  • Anyone looking for significant movement on NB-IoT at Mobile World Congress was likely to be disappointed, and LPWA players are taking advantage of that.

Long before Mobile World Congress 2016 kicked into gear, it was clear that two themes would dominate it – 5G and IoT. The 5G message was straightforward: vendors and operators are beginning to focus on commercialization, with fixed use cases being an early example. On the IoT front, there was no shortage of “noise,” but discerning one clear theme was difficult. Nokia’s pledge of $350 million to an IoT-focused investment fund was an impressive commitment to the space. Beyond that, however, we had NB-IoT movement and market development, but no major NB-IoT breakthroughs, no significant new LPWAN endorsements, nothing to suggest that carriers were conclusively gaining ground in “moving up the stack” to deliver more than IoT connectivity.

Instead, there were a number of smaller industry advancements on each front, telegraphing a handful of themes.

While we might expect Mobile World Congress to set the year’s tone for many technologies and markets, it shouldn’t be surprising that the IoT story wasn’t dominated by one message. NB-IoT standards aren’t finalized. Carriers are trying to prove that they can deliver more than access into IoT solutions, but most have yet to prove their capabilities. In the middle of this, LPWAN startups are scrambling to establish a lasting foothold in the market. Key market dynamics are still unfolding and only time will tell how they play out.

For those who feel something of a letdown when Mobile World Congress comes to a close, this should be good news. It means that there will be plenty of IoT market and technology development to talk about during the rest of the year and at MWC 2017!

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