The number of technology conferences has been rising steadily. There seems to be a direct correlation to the rise in the new digital technologies. These conferences are a melting pot where experts and organizations come together to brainstorm about the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities. Even as such conferences are springing up everywhere, the Mobile World Conference, more popularly known as MWC, remains the go-to place for some of the most innovative companies on the planet. MWC takes place in Barcelona in February each year. The event is a test of the stamina of the attendees with so much going on. It is also a test of their abilities to grasp all that is shared.
This year too, over 2000 organizations and 100000 attendees flocked to Barcelona in the last week of February. The who’s who of the IT industry were present there with their next generation offerings. Companies like AT &T, China Mobile, GSMA Intelligence, G+D Mobile security, Huawei, Mobile IoT Innovators, Sierra Wireless, and Quectel were present with the other well-known names like Hitachi, Intel, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, and salesforce. While the focus, as expected, was on mobility and new trends in that space, it’s fair to say that at MWC 2019, the Internet of Things (IoT) also had a starring role.
No topic related to IoT was left untouched. The areas of discussion covered the whole 9 yards of IoT including security, mobile data, drones, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and analytics. Knowledge bases for policy and regulation too featured prominently in the conference.
It has been said often enough that there will be around 25 billion connected devices by 2025. Of the regions, APAC will be leading the pack accounting for 11 billion, followed by the USA and Europe with their tally of 6 and 5 billion devices respectively. Connected Industry and automobiles with 12 billion devices each are set to be the biggest sectors. Smart homes seem set to be another major market segment.
Another major statistical takeaway was that the mobile IoT network deployment has been increasing with time. In fact, mobile IoT dominated many of the IoT-led discussions. In focus -the experience with mobile IoT so far as also the future opportunity that is now visible. The success of the global deployments of mobile IoT networks featured too. Mobile IoT coupled with the powerful interoperable high-speed 5G networks coming up everywhere has given rise to the vision of a smarter AI. This could be leveraged by a range of industries from agriculture to connected transport.
It seems clear that mobile operators will keep playing a pivotal role in this new era of intelligent connectivity. Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Analyst for IoT & GSMA Intelligence, went on record to say that “As the number of connected consumer devices and industrial machines grow rapidly, the IoT ecosystem will evolve to become a trillion-dollar market over the course of the next decade.” That’s a lot of market opportunity!
Attendees at the conference were carefully looking at rollouts of the promise of 5G networks, the Expansion of LTE along with deployment of fiber, and developments in the field of virtualization. Even as the possibility of banning Huawei loomed large, it was overshadowed by the palpable excitement of the attendees about the possibility of 5G reaching 40% of the world population.
Even as early as the next quarter of this year, mobile IoT (or LPWA, low power wide area networks) will reach out to 93 % of the IoT ecosystem. There have been 93 launches by 50 different operators in 49 markets in the recent past, fueling the growth further. The industry’s first 5G-enabled sim was launched by Gemalto at MWC. Other network providers like Aviat, Extreme, and Polystar too showcased their capability in providing networks and new routers. Other companies like Xilinx, Quectel, and NTT Data to showcased how they were expanding and extending their offering to keep pace with the fast evolving IoT landscape.
A special mention for Pelion’s IoT arm, which brought their attention to buffing up its security offerings. Security concerns have been a major roadblock in the perception battle when it comes to IoT. This solution showcased the work that is going into ensuring that that data flowing into the IoT ecosystem or out of it was safe. Pelion’s tie-up with China Unicom and Vodafone could help further their work to alleviate security concerns.
Another announcement which caused a lot of excitement among the attendees was the 100 km IoT range extender with an IoT accelerator. This beast of a solution was launched by Ericsson in partnership with Telstra. Another big name, Vodafone was more focused on making IoT solutions affordable for SMEs. They, with Pelion IoT, have tried to simplify deployment and potentially slash the investment by a whopping 50%.
In fact, it seemed like everybody had an IoT story that they wanted to tell at MWC 2019. Attendees could not escape the feeling that IoT, despite all its challenges, is very real and is here to stay. And it could be that MWC 2019 was its first big bash!