In this article I want to share my experience of visiting the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona 2022. I will start with a brief overview of the event, followed by the focus areas and trends presented in this year’s edition. At the end I would also like to share a conclusion and some recommendations.
MWC Barcelona (formerly but still commonly referred to as Mobile World Congress) is an annual trade show organized by GSMA, dedicated primarily to the mobile communications industry. The event is held in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via, usually in February or early March. It is attended primarily by device manufacturers, network equipment providers, representatives of wireless carriers, and the press, among others. Its annual attendance is generally around 100,000 people, while mobile phone manufacturers often use the conference to unveil upcoming devices. The theme this year was “Connectivity Unleashed”. The main consideration for this theme was the huge potential in the industry right now and how technology had advanced over the last three years. With areas like 5G, Big Data, AI and IOT being considerably more mainstream than they were pre-pandemic, Connectivity Unleashed was the perfect umbrella for this event.
One of the main topics was the implementation of 5G. 2022 is forecast to be a great year for 5G, with mobile connections set to break the 1 billion mark as deployments accelerate and devices become more affordable. Many companies were showing of their latest 5G equipment and were available to discuss implementation strategies. There was also concluded that the rise of 5G does not spell the end of 4G, because in developing markets, 4G still remains to be a key opportunity for operators. This can also be the case for Suriname in this perspective.
There was also a great focus on the development of key vertical industries. Connectivity is about to become a commodity, so telecom operators must look for ways to create more revenue streams. This is a major transformation. One of the main goals for telecom operators is to transform to digital service providers. There were a lot of companies in this area showing many opportunities to operators in which they can extend their connectivity and digitization initiatives. A lot of monetization opportunities were presented in several sectors including Fintech, the Internet of Everything, and industrial IOT. Some very eye-catching demonstrations were connected industrial machinery and some well developed robots. A zone was dedicated to innovations in vertical segments. This zone was a platform for showcasing and discussing some of the most advanced connected offerings in sectors including manufacturing, fintech and smart mobility.
For telecom operators several zones were dedicated to companies discussing and presenting strategies for mobile network transformation. They were covering the basics. Stating that at a very fundamental level, delivering a solid mobile experience relies on providing capacity where it’s needed. They explained why coverage, speed and network performance are metrics that customers prize. And these metrics ill only grow in importance as access to applications becomes a very critical part of customers work and home lives. What also was addressed, is the growing demand in consumer data for IOT purposes. This plays into the broad interest in growing revenues. Some important discussions were about strategy drivers for digital network transformation. Within these discussions operators could identify and define their primary goals for their network transformation.
I want to conclude this article with stating that this industry will expand a lot in the next few years. Since 5G is set to transform almost every industry, the mobile user ecosystem will grow and be more diverse. Similarly, with virtualization and cloudification, also infrastructure will be impacted. Many new applications will start to emerge. For Suriname it will be important for operators to transform quickly to digital service providers and collaborate with innovative software/applications developers to get a fare share of the pie.
Furgell Pinas, Boardmember ICT-Association Suriname