Mobile World Congress: daily update

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 — The Mobile World Congress: the place to be for the top players in the mobile industry. Each year they gather to talk about experiences, tricks, trends, tech and make predictions for the future. A few Telenet employees are in Barcelona to join the conference and will report to us on a daily basis. 

Day 3: the story of the last day

Our 3rd day in Barcelona with a spicy program: a meeting with a few network operators and the search for more innovation. 5G, the Internet of Things and Virtual Reality are a few topics we’ve already discussed; today we stumbled on a few new buzzwords.

It all started with a meeting with cable operator Charter Communications. We talked about our Mobile Virtual Network Operator and Mobile Network Operator experiences, which led to some interesting insights. A great way to start the day!

The buzzword that takes the cake is “core network virtualization”. Ericsson demonstrated a few creative ideas to organize this process and showed us which areas you need to pay attention to. It’s not the ‘if’ that matters but the ‘when’ and ‘how’ is the most important thing. Preparation is key, so we’ll better start on time then!

The common thread in all this? Connectivity; the connection between objects and apps. There are interesting time ahead of the tech industry!

Looking back at these past few days

Our most important takeaways:

1. Network Virtualization

Augmented Reality is big – just think about the success story of Pokémon Go last summer. Be prepared for a lot more products which will use this technology.

2. Smart, smart, smart

Narrow band Internet of Things will soon be common in houses (think about gas, electricity and water meters,…) and smart cities (available parking spots, waste disposal,…). It doesn’t stop there, for example; insurance companies can determine your insurance policy based on your actual driving skills.

3. 5G

When visiting ZTE, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia we already experienced a few pre-5G features demonstrations which are the precursors of the new mobile internet service that they will launch in 2020. At ZTE we saw a demo on Massive Multiple Inputs Multiple Outputs (MMIMO). Multiple users can benefit from fast data speeds whilst being at the same place. How fast you ask? We saw speeds exceeding 300Mbps!

4. Better coverage

More and more public places are being closed in to a network of fast internet whilst being included within a mobile network too. The purpose is to fit in these radios so that they won’t be noticed in an urban environment.

5. Virtual Reality

VR remains to be the next big things; in games, professional life or simply for practical applications. Brand such as Facebook and Google plan to offer a massive amount of new products and services through the use of virtual reality.

Sebastian Dehaene

Day 2 : Weight scales and teddy bears

Five innovations were really worth it for me at day 2 of the Mobile World Congress. One of them is the smart weight scale of Nokia. After the takeover of Whitney last year, the first independent health-division will be integrated within Nokia. In this way the brand wants to offer more than smartphones, with a lot of attention to connectivity between devices. This means also between a weight scale which sends all information directly to your smartphone.

Also in the area of smartwatches I expect a fast evolution the coming years. The battery life has always been an issue, but not for long.

A jacket that tracks you while you are wearing it. Yes? Yes! Via GPS, but also heart rate and physical condition is being tracked. The jacket also has an SOS-functionality which sends out a signal as soon as things go wrong. Perfectly for touring or mountaineering.

The fourth innovation is my favourite: A teddy bear with a camera integrated in its eyes. It allows you to make video calls. Very useful to talk with your kids from a distance. Also the bear is perfect to keep an eye on them too, without them knowing it.

Finally the Xperia Touch of Sony transforms ‘everything’ in a touch screen. You can project on doors, walls, floors, screens, … and control the interface. Show something to friends, colleagues or family? Check! Gaming? Oh yeah. The Xperia Touch also has a splendid 13MP-camera, two speakers and a microphone, ideally for video calls too.

Day 1: everything becomes ‘smart’

The congress takes place between 27 February and 2 March. With more than 100,000 visitors, it is the world’s largest gathering within the mobile industry. This year’s focus became clear when the president of the GSMA declared in his speech that everything will become ‘smart’. Smart cities, smart homes, smart cars,… you name it, it will become smart. The one thing we need to make this all happen? 5G of course! We need fast internet to make sure that all of these smart objects can be connected to each other to work together.

Another lasting opportunity is the Internet of Things. CEO of Softbank Group, Masayoshi Son, predicts that his computer will be smarter than the human brain 30 years from now. Smart robots, connected cars and drones will be present everywhere. Son’s presentation reminds me of a really expensive science fiction movie…

An opportunity never travels alone – all these new developments come with challenges too. Safety is the most important one. We need to protect our data and prevent hackers from taking over our smart objects. Can you imagine that someone with bad intentions would take over your self-driving vehicle…?

During this first day, we haven’t bumped into any really ‘new’ technologies or devices. The one thing we saw that came close to that description is Samsung’s S8 – which will be launched on 29 March. Most of the big brands focus on wearables nowadays, the new headphones from LG for example look truly amazing. Samsung, Huawei and LG will launch their new smartwatches in the coming days. Stay tuned for more! – Chantal Van de Looverbosch (Senior Premium Service Manager)

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