There was – of course – a lot of stuff about LTE at MWC this year, and a lot of stuff about WiFi off-load. I haven’t yet figured out how those two co-exist… Build a very expensive LTE network but then off-load all the traffic? It’ll come to me I’m sure.
What I did find fascinating was looking at small cell technology. The Small Cell Forum’s – ex Femtocell forum – stand was very popular and also very informative. Gold star to them. They reported on an Informa forecast that there are now more 3G micro nodeBs than macro and by 2016, 90% of all base stations deployed will be micro/pico or femto, and this is by no means just for indoor coverage/capacity. Have all mobile operators got a strategy for small cells? I can see it being a big part of what they do in the next decade if they start planning now.
Telefónica, Alcatel-Lucent and Samsung announced their collective LTE-readiness and a live demonstration network. In the 2.6GHz band it provided download speeds of 100 Mbit/s and upload between 40 and 60Mbit/s. It’s using Alcatel-Lucent’s self-organising LightRadio technology which mixes conventional macro network base stations with an underlay of small cells for indoor coverage. The Alcatel-Lucent’s LightRadio solution won the Best Infrastructure Technology Award in the Global Mobile Awards. This is a clear indication that LTE has arrived and emerged into commercial readiness far faster than 3G did. It’s probably too soon for many Operators but this particular genie isn’t going back into any bottle.
Nokia launched the 808 PureView – a mobile phone that comes complete with a 41 megapixel camera! Imagine the file size!! Don’t worry; Nokia have come up with a magic compression trick as well. The 808 won best device launched at MWC and runs on, wait for it……Symbiam. Is their clock running backwards?
MS have put Skype and Skype video on Windows Phone OS – no surprise there but it also means Voice OTT is just round the corner. For operators still reeling from the impact of OTT messenger clients this isn’t the news they wanted to hear.
Rich Communication Suit e 5.0 is now called Joyn. Lapel badges available. We saw a commercial launch in Spain during congress but it seems not all Operators joined in due to – whisper it softly – interoperability issues. Interoperability issues? On RCSe, the interoperable platform? Oh dear!!
The Cloud is omnipresent – even under the clear blue skies of this year’s MWC. Some predict the Cloud will be raining on MNOs’ parade but some MNOs themselves hailed it as their saviour. Seems that OTT was the elephant in the congress hall.
The EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neely Kroes, is still playing the same old broken record, claiming that reducing roaming charges and termination rates are still the big issue for the industry. Vittorio Colao, made a call for the EU to: “Get on board and help create jobs by supporting mobile in Europe”. Kroes then issued a statement. Specifically called a “message to Vittorio and Vodafone”, she said that she is: “Calling Vodafone’s bluff”, “Takes the side of the Vodafone customer” and “Doesn’t respond well to threats.”
Meanwhile, thousands of jobs were lost in the Mobile Industry in Europe last year. I can remember a time when the EU was at the forefront of creating a mobile industry in Europe and with it investment, jobs and wealth. They seem like bygone days now.
I said to someone at the GSMA that it’s a pity that there isn’t a start-up and small vendor package for congress. He said, “There is – an exhibition pass and the coffee bars!” OK I take the point but has congress become too focussed on the number of CEOs attending and lost a bit of the buzz on the floor that used to make it so exciting? AIthough, I did come across one enterprising outfit that used the forecourt area to create a street art exhibition tool. Very clever, very funny, zero cost, very original.
It has been my honour to act as chair of the judges for the Global Mobile Awards (shameless plug). This year I got to present the technology awards and got to meet the host, comedian Tim Minchin, who was brilliant.
This was the last year at the Fira de Barcelona and although it’s a bit decrepit, I will miss it. It had a certain charm and the location was excellent. Starting in 2013, the Mobile World Congress will be held at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via, a move which will provide approximately 50 per cent more space and will accommodate continued strong growth and demand for the event. The 2013 Mobile World Congress will be held 25-28 February, 2013. I think that the location might turn out to be a bit of an issue. A bit off the beaten track and certainly way off the Metro lines, the new centre looks bland and boring but is, perhaps, a fitting venue for MNOs in this decade!
This year’s MWC also saw the passing of power within the GSMA from Rob Conway to Anne Bouverot, and what should read into the job title change from CEO to Director General? Rob spent 12 years at the GSMA and was instrumental in modernising the association which represents all the world’s mobile operators using the GSM family of technologies. Rob was brought in when the Chair of the GSMA rested with the new world and had a mandate to move the GSMA on from a quasi-standards body to an effective trade association able to represent the industry at senior levels and to lobby regulators, ministers and governments around the world on things like spectrum and taxation. Rob also gave the GSMA an effective commercial arm – responsible today for MWC amongst other things – and launched the Development fund, Connected living programme and Mobile NFC initiative. But in these changing times and with the Chair of the association reverting back to Europe it seems the emphasis now seems to be to get the GSMA back to its roots, with a focus on member services and dealing with the issues of interworking and interoperability of new services between operators. So is it a case of out with the new and in with the old?
See you there in 2013.